Tuesday, April 21, 2009

STFU, Coren

I try to keep the language clean around here. While we're a milblog, and soldiers tend to be...ahem...colourful in their choice of words, I refrain from a good deal of that language because our readership isn't entirely military and I don't want to drive the civilians away with what is most charitably described as "soldierly language."

But in the case of Michael Coren's latest brain fart, I have but one thing to say to him: fuck off.

Last week a young girl dressed up as a soldier died in the increasingly futile and pointless war in Afghanistan. She was 21 years old, had been in the country for two weeks on her first tour of duty and probably weighed a little over 100 pounds.

Please know that I mean no disrespect to Karine Blais or to her family and I grieve for her and them. But what on earth was she doing in such a place and in such a job?

"Dressed up as a soldier?" And then you say you mean no disrespect? Are you f'ing kidding me?

You want to know what she was "doing in such a place and in such a job?" She was doing what she chose to do, what she was qualified to do, and what she has the right to do: serving her nation.

Everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - who signs on the dotted line to join the CF is taught about the concept of "unlimited liability." As an eighteen year old recruit, I had to come to terms with the idea that I could be ordered to walk into certain death. I filled out a will, as did all my fellow recruits. There was no sugar-coating of the idea. Perhaps I was simply young and foolish, but as an officer cadet, I was honestly more concerned about having to order my subordinates to their certain deaths. But that didn't mean I didn't think carefully about it and come to terms with the potential consequences of my choice.

Trooper Blais wouldn't have been able to get to where she was without understanding that. To say she shouldn't have been allowed to serve, or that she was simply "dressed up as a soldier" is profoundly insulting to her. And my reaction to that insult is visceral, as I'm one of those who believe that Canadians who have made the conscious and considered decision to serve should be spared such insults.

I'm not the only one who feels this way: many at Army.ca have been weighing in:

ArmyVern (a female WO):
The world has moved on and we 'girls dressed up as soldiers' have come a long way. We earned it and here we are.

Your opinions are lovely (if very outdated and chauvenistic), but I'll not give up a career that I love and am good at - to satisfy the likes of you.

Do we test males and females differently in the CF? Yes, the ExPres test, perhaps, but last time I checked, the BFT is the same for both genders and that is the fitness requirement for a tour.

And best of all, kilekaldar:

I have just finished a 7 month tour with an Infantry Coy in Zhari, where I patrolled on foot on a regular basis alongside female medics and on a few occasion a female MP. They did the same job, carried the same kit and weapons, marched the same distances, took the same enemy fire and in all ran the same risks as the men. I never saw them flinch, display fear or weakness, and did their work with the same dedication and level of competence as the men present.

I witnessed, on the occasion of a recent deadly IED blast that took the lives of two Canadians, a female medic who was also caught in the explosion be the first to jump up from the ground and administer aid, organise triage and performe her duties in a superb manner despite her injuries from her close proximity to the blast, and knowing well the two deceased soldiers.

After having been in combat alongside Canadian female soldiers, I have determined for direct experience that the women of today make as good soldiers as men.

You, sir, obviously have no direct combat experience with women, and should keep your condescending, ignorant, archaic opinions that have no basis on facts or reality to yourself and resist the temptation to insult the efforts of Canadian women in uniform.

Neanderthals like Coren infuriate me, because their form of sexism is the nannying, condescending, glass-ceiling sort of sexism under the guise of protecting and caring for women that is so debilitating to our society. It completely dismisses the one criterion that should matter most: performance.

If a woman wants to be in the combat arms, she needs to be able to hit the same performance requirements as her male counterparts, including the physical ones. Period. Sacrificing performance for political correctness is anathema to the military ethos.

But if she can do the job, she should be able to serve. Period. Discriminating against individuals on the basis of anything other than performance is also anathema to the military ethos.

Asswipes like Coren have a right to their backwards, benighted, ignorant opinions. There's no way around that. But personally, I'd like to thank the men and women like Trooper Karine Blais of the 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada, and across the entire Canadian Forces for protecting that right with their very lives.

Update: I have been extremely busy with work, family, and endeavours supporting the CF that go beyond blogging. This moronic column just came to my attention a few hours ago. So bite me, Dawg.

Upperdate: More from an old bud on Facebook...

As someone in the ramp-up to go over I did the BFT and watched women carry the same kit and shovel the same gravel as I did, not to mention the fact that it was probably 40%+ of their body weight. Maybe little Mikey should give it a whirl himself? I'll loan him some gear if he wants!!

The soldiers aren't the ones with the problem, here.

Up-yours-date: Pecunium tears Coren a new rectum or six - *applause!* - but it's really the comments thread that will make you stand and cheer. "Sell tickets" was a ROTFLMAO moment. And Sgt Atkinson's slap-down was priceless. BZ, folks. Well smote.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt the likes of Coren or Dawg would not have the cajones to say something like that to the face of a young Canadian female soldier, especially one from the Combat Arms.

Might be the last tenor words they voiced for a long time and it would be very difficult for them to remove their heads from up their arses with a couple of broken arms.

7:38 p.m., April 21, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Dawg said...

Hold on here--I'm on the same side, for once. Fred, you can visit my place and see for yourself, and then offer an apology. Damian is referring to what he takes to be my impatience.

Good post, Damian. I was merely wondering out loud why the progressives who oppose the war were first in line to rip Coren a new one, which was, I think, a reasonable question. I did, however, thanks to Mark Collins, post a pretty good comment from milnet.ca at my place.

7:44 p.m., April 21, 2009  
Blogger Chris & Sarah said...

"Can we really imagine for a moment that if a group of Taliban tribesmen rushed a trench or an encampment this poor young woman could fight them off, could deal with the thrusts of their long knives and heavy clubs?"

Maybe, maybe not, but I'm damned sure she could have kicked his sorry ass.

7:50 p.m., April 21, 2009  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

My small contribution, with Damian mentioned in dispatches. Damian kicks ass:


8:43 p.m., April 21, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Quick link to Mr Glavin's post.

Love that popinjay. BZ.


8:52 p.m., April 21, 2009  
Blogger Renee said...

I wrote him a letter.

8:43 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Raphael Alexander weighs in:

"Suddenly The Feminists Care About Afghanistan, For Wrong Reasons"


8:55 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger holdfast said...

Mark, I love your site and writing, but I have I have to take issue with your statement that "Sacrificing performance for political correctness is anathema to the military ethos" - I mean, it is true in theory, but not really in practice. My experience was with the reserves out west, along with time spend with 1 CER and 3 and 2 PPCLI. The infantry was very simple - they maintained high physical and other performance standards throughout, and thus there simply were no women in the line companies - not a one. In the other combat arms (including mine, the engineers, things were a little different. The Regs would not allow a completely deficient female to stay in a field troop, but there were some borderline cases who probably would not have made it if they had a Y chromosome - there were also some truly excellent female troops who deserved to be there in every way. The Reserves were a lot more forgiving - there were quite a few females who simply could not pull their wight (and in some cases, that was quite a bit of weight). There were others I worked with (including the model for the peacekeeper on the $10 bill) who were fantastic in every respect and totally deserved to be there.

Unfortunately, political correctness really does rear its head in these situations.

9:45 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger holdfast said...

Oh, and Coren is still totally a douche-nozzle for what he wrote.

9:46 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/22/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

10:04 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Holdfast: Actually not "my" site--Damian Brooks founded it, and wrote this post (he writes rather better than I). Others contribute too.


10:06 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Holdfast, if an individual woman can't cut it, she should get washed out or reclassed just like the guys who can't cut it.

If women had to do a separate BFT, I'd be yelling about that, but they don't.

The ones who are over there deserve to be over there, and should be allowed to be over there serving as they're qualified to do.

10:28 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

...and Mark is being unduly modest about his writing.

10:31 a.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger holdfast said...

Babbling - of course they "should" but the reality is often very different, and you should know that. It is completely unfair, because like all forms of affirmative action, it unfairly casts a pall over those that ARE qualified to be there, but there it is. You know how politics works - and you know that there is politics in the military - the equity brigade is concerned about equal outcomes, not equal opportunities, and COs are only human and have been known to cave to these pressures.

Example, it takes a full troop of engineers to assemble an MGB (medium girder bridge) - it is like going to the gym and lifting weights ALL DAY. On average, 2/3 of the females in any troop I worked with were unable to lift panels on a constant basis - they had to be given the "light" tasks which were usually reserved for the lightly injured or others who had been pushing really hard and needed a break. The net result was that the people who could do the job did more of it - which completely sucked. Now I am sure that these females (barely) passed the physical tests they were required to take, but that doesn't mean they were physically capable of being sappers.

12:10 p.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

On average, 2/3 of the females in any troop I worked with were unable to lift panels on a constant basis - they had to be given the "light" tasks which were usually reserved for the lightly injured or others who had been pushing really hard and needed a break. The net result was that the people who could do the job did more of it - which completely sucked.That's an argument against failed leadership and double standards, Holdfast. It's not a particularly good argument against barring women from doing the job - especially since it eliminates the 1/3 you said could legitimately hack it.

I think we're roughly in agreement here: those who can LEGITIMATELY do the job should be allowed to, and those who can't should be washed out or reclassed to a job they actually can do...just like the guys who can't hack it.

12:16 p.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Cameron Campbell said...

Mark? Fred?

Bad from all around. Well done. Bravo.

Damian... Dawg was a bit out of line, but his point about no response from the right side of aisle was spot on.

2:43 p.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Cameron Campbell said...

You know, this is exactly why I stopped commenting on this site... those of us on the left can never, ever be supportive enough, be enthusiastic enough, never bow down in slavish praise of all things military enough to ever be anything more than, at best, suspect and, at worst, some how against Western Civilization and perhaps on the side of the terrorists.

Mark, Damian and BB, you've done a mostly good job about moderating that sort of crap, but the under current is always there: don't support the mission in Afghanistan? You must hate the troops.

Hell, in my case, I do support the mission but when I've suggested that there might be lessons to be learned from other countries I've been jumped.

Dawg, in my memory, has never been anything but supportive of the CF troops, if not the mission.

Anyway... whatever.. I've got some terrorist supporting to go and do (or whatever people on the left are meant to be doing in the fantasies of people like Fred) so I'll leave you to it...

3:27 p.m., April 22, 2009  
Blogger Mike said...

Good post Damian. Good to see that people across the political spectrum are not putting up with Coren's nonsense and calling him on it.

Its a real pity when certain folks miss that point.

7:37 a.m., April 23, 2009  
Blogger Cameron Campbell said...

I agree Mike, it really is too bad about Mark and Raphael (not his real name)

2:48 p.m., April 23, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just to let you know... it's not just Canadian soldiers who are offended by the pathetic little turd (I'd have said weasel, worm, etc., but find I've an excess of contempt).

I wrote about it, and got more than a few responses from other US soldiers; the relative of soldiers and Marines.

I confess to being less restrained in my language; for a moment.


7:27 p.m., April 23, 2009  
Blogger John of Argghhh! said...

Let Coren embed, and walk with the troops, and, hopefully, fight with them.

Well, fight with them might happen, in a bad way... so, "be present when they fight."

Just to make sure no one is confused.

1:03 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger sobersubmrnr said...

I guess I'm a neanderthal. Coren's "dressed up as a soldier" comment was uncalled for and disrespectful to that soldier's memory, but I have to agree with much of what he wrote, if not the way he said it. If women can meet the exact same standards as men then that's one thing, but usually they don't, so the PC Police allow them to slide by.

In the civilian world, one can try to be fair. But in combat, there is no such thing as 'fair.' Men are wired to protect women and in a firefight, they do just that. The Israelis figured that out in 1948. Women are also much more prone to injury than men due to their lighter bone structures, among other things. A study by the British Army showed that. A US Army study showed that it takes several months of constant body building for women to gain the same upper body strength as their male counterparts. That strength matters in combat. A lot.

There is no place for PC on the battlefield and allowing women in combat units is just asking to get them and the male troops around them killed. Canada and other nations that allow women in the combat arms haven't suffered a lot of tragedies involving women yet because there aren't that many women on the ground (Canada) or they don't see very much combat (European armies). That could change.

(Also posted at the Castle)

3:12 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger AFSister said...

I couldn't agree more, Damian.

And my reply to Sober, also cross-posted at The Castle:
Sober- you're off-target.
There have been plenty of women who have proven their worth on the battlefield, including a 19 year old medic from Kentucky awarded a Silver Star for her bravery under fire while caring for wounded.

Women are not built like men, this is true- and the men in my life are happy about that fact, I might add. ;-)

But that doesn't mean that they're any less capable in battle. There are different PT requirements for men vs. women, and I know that several have made comments about women in certain MOS's not carrying their weight (literally and figuratively). Personally, I don't care what your sex- or sexual orientation is. If you can handle the job, ALL of the job, your sex should not hold you back. If your job requires you to carry a 100 lb ruck, and you can't handle it.. either bulk up and buck up, or find a new MOS.

3:50 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger sobersubmrnr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:09 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger sobersubmrnr said...

No, I'm not off target. The incident with the female medic was an isolated one. And if you go and dig a bit deeper into that story, you will find that while she provided treatment under fire, the men around her were helping her move those patients. If you want to know what being a combat medic is like in a really bad fight, do some research into the Navy corpsmen on Iwo Jima.

"If your job requires you to carry a 100 lb ruck, and you can't handle it.. either bulk up and buck up, or find a new MOS."That's exactly what does not happen.

4:10 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I also cross-posted this at The Castle:

Up in Canada, everybody deploying to Afghanistan has to pass the BFT (Battle Fitness Test), which has one standard for both males and females. So the Trooper in question wasn't graded on a different standard than the men.

Now, if you don't think the BFT is a high enough standard for physical attributes in combat, you're free to make that argument. But that's different than the one being made, which is that the women just can't keep up with the standard. Those that deploy can and do.

On another note, I have a friend who has commanded artillery sub-units in the CF, where pure physical brute strength is probably of a higher value than to any other trade. He's told me that if women in his command could meet the minimum physical standard, he regarded it as no different than men in his command who were strong as an ox, but could barely meet the running standard. Or those who could barely qualify on their marksmanship, or any other aspect of soldiering. His words: "Everyone brings something different to the team - you work on their weaknesses and take advantage of their strengths. And I commanded a number of women who brought a lot more than muscle to the table."

4:10 p.m., April 24, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

sobersubmrnr: Where you are off base is the assumption you make that women, as a rule can't, and men, as a rule can.

I'm slight. Even allowing for greater muscle density per pound, I'm all of 118 right now. At my heaviest, I was about 136 (aged 26, the end of basic training).

No one would quibble if I wanted to be in the infantry. I might fail out, but no one is going to give me especial grief if I try and fail. Odds are I won't fail (I've humped an extra 82 lbs, for 16K. I've humped 125 for about 3K, that last was a real bitch; mostly because the load wasn't balanced well).

When I was in Iraq we had a troop who was all of 98 lbs. (she was short). She had no problem with her M-203. The vest for that weighs in at about 60 lbs. She wore it over her battle rattle and could drop one of those grenades in the hip pocket of your choice.

I've seen medics, even the big guys get help moving the wounded. They do that because it's easier on the wounded; and easier on them. Wearing themselves out being he-men is stupid, because there will be more casualties.

Maybe the unit cohesion breaking sort of sexism you are expressing here is acceptable in a submarine, where the doctrine keeps you from having to deal with, and depend on females in the crew, but me.... no I can't afford it.

Just as I will deal with the foibles, flaws and weaknesses in the male troops I work with/lead I will deal with the females.

We are all in the same uniform, playing for the same team. None of is a paragon, and that's fine with me.

8:48 p.m., April 25, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Just as I will deal with the foibles, flaws and weaknesses in the male troops I work with/lead I will deal with the females.Well said, Pecunium.

And on that point, I find some of the people arguing against females in formerly male units forget that guys have hormones too. How many stupid, useless, and pointlessly dangerous confrontations have you seen because a bunch of guys were ramping up the aggression off each other's testosterone level? I know I've seen - and been part of - my fair share.

10:31 a.m., April 26, 2009  

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