Jason Stanford, 10/6/2014 [Archive]

Let Women Serve in Combat

By Jason Stanford

There was joke that made the rounds when Bill Clinton was trying to figure out how to allow gays in the military without upsetting morale. "Gays in the military," the joke went. "Next thing you know they'll want to be interior decorators!" Of course, gays have always served in our military. Now, after long last, they can serve openly, and as it turns out it is no big whoop.

Next up is the Great National Freakout about women serving in combat. On his way out the door, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opened all military jobs to women, beginning a long process of the armed services appealing to keep certain jobs exclusively male. A great many women can't wait to serve in combat positions. Good lord, next thing you know they'll want to vote.

Of course, I understand why this idea makes people feel uncomfortable. I'm a dad. I speak stupid fluently, though I'm not sure I speak it as well as Fox News' Eric Bolling, who reacted to the sight of a female UAE fighter pilot with giggling misogyny.

"Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?" he offered. "The problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn't park it."

As a columnist, I'm offended by his failed attempt at open-mic humor, but the Truman National Security Project—of which I'm a member—released an open letter signed by a dozens of severely PO'd veterans who were offended by more than just a blundered attempt at low humor.

Apparently 1,000 Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, flew combat missions during World War II. As the Truman Project letter noted, "Seeing as U.S. Army Air Forces Commander 'Hap' Arnold said 'Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men,' we can probably guess he thought their parking was adequate."

See, now that's funny.

The sad part of that story is that they were told that not only would they not receive compensation but they weren't allowed to tell anyone that they flew combat missions against fascists because it might offend sensitivities. War really is hell. Guys might get their feelings hurt!

Women have been finding ways to defend our country since the Revolutionary War, when Deborah Sampson served George Washington army for more than a year disguised as a man. But still we somehow think we're supposed to protect these women from serving in combat.

Other countries have gotten over this. Women serve in combat positions in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Eritrea, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Sweden. South Korea, Pakistan, Serbia, South Africa, and it the good ol' UAE now allow women to serve as fighter pilots. Even Russia has a long tradition of allowing women to fight. Hear that, America? Women are freer in Russia.

Want more proof? Half of all Viking warriors were women. Hope that didn't upset Viking morale. Gosh. Also, golly.

We've gotten used to women doing jobs formerly reserved for big, strong men. Now big, strong women can be cops, fire fighters, astronauts, and pretty much anything they want to in America. Heck, there's a girl on my son's middle school football team. In Texas! And she's a lineman! If a girl can knock a guy on his hind end on a Texas football field, we can all learn to say linewoman and get over ourselves.

The only thing we have to fear is the inevitable sexist backlash against women encroaching on male territory. Think about this, fellas: They said blacks couldn't measure up and would upset morale. Hogwash.

They said gays were weak and would upset morale. Balderdash. Now they're saying women can't do enough pull-ups and will upset morale. Right. Maybe the problem is the precious little baby bunny feelings we always have to look out for.

The land of the free ought to be a home for the brave. We have an all-volunteer military, and women are volunteering. Women have been fighting for our country since before we were a country. How about we let them do whatever jobs they qualify for? They might have boobs under their shirts, but that's our flag on their uniforms, too, and that's no joke.


©Copyright 2014 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner. You can email him at stanford@oppresearch.com and follow him on Twitter @JasStanford.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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