fbpx
Salvo 06.10.2024 10 minutes

Whose Flag?

American flag and the Gay Pride flag overlapping on a distressed concrete wall

Service members should salute America, not Pride Month, this June.

For most of my life, June signified the arrival of summer and opened wedding season. In recent years, a small but boisterous group of activists have claimed it as Pride Month, replacing the traditional focus with honoring an ever-changing flag that represents the worship of a postmodern Baal. As society has surrendered to this iteration of humanistic religious practice, the military complex has followed suit.

The American military that could not be defeated by global nuclear powers was conquered by a band of people dedicated to sexual disorder. Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in 2010, the Department of Defense (DOD) capitulated to the revolutionary cause of Pride Month with nearly the speed of Kabul’s fall to the Taliban. In doing so, it usurped the concept of selfless service to others with the celebration of self for the sexually divergent.

The Pentagon, and all branches of the military, publish internal public affairs guidance documents laying out exactly how military leaders from top to bottom are expected to celebrate LGBTQ values in speech and action. This now includes sending honor guards in full military dress to formally kick off pride parades. The American flag and military colors have long shown up in battles throughout American history. Now they wave in cultural battle—on the side of those who want the nation deconstructed.

Most U.S. military bases host special pride events throughout the year courtesy of taxpayers. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a man who became a 4-star general in the straight Army, has made kicking off Pride Month part of the liturgical calendar. At this year’s Pentagon pride celebration, Rear Admiral Mike Brown shared how breaking up his family to follow homosexual desires allows him to better serve the nation. Lost on those attending is that a man who will break a solemn oath taken before God in marriage will not think twice about violating an oath taken to the Constitution. Yet the DOD repeatedly touts the generally undefined accomplishments allegedly carried out solely by homosexual, bisexual, and transgender members of the military in keeping America safe from its straight enemies abroad.

One thing is clear: the U.S. military’s advocacy for sexual revolution is weakening the force, a reality that no American can afford to accept. It has led to increased stress and anxiety among the troops, decreased team cohesion, and an erosion of trust—outcomes that have played a predominant role in the worst military recruitment crisis since the last peacetime draft ended in 1973.

How far the military has bowed to the LGBTQ movement depends on which base you’re on and under whose command you serve. Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, which was my last duty station, is home to the Army’s Combined Arms Center headquarters, which oversees all the schools across the Army. The base is also home to Army University, the Army Staff Management College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the School of Advanced Military Studies. As Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler often says, the closer you get to a university campus, the farther you get from morality. As a base that brands itself the Army’s intellectual center, and one staffed almost entirely by mid-grade and higher officers, it trends culturally to the left of what you’re likely to find at bases that house combat arms units.

It was at Fort Leavenworth that a supervisor told me in 2021 (outside of Pride Month) that my asking for a preemptive conversation about where to draw the ethical line between my Christian faith and expectations of further enabling transgender ideology in the ranks constituted bigotry. My supervisor ultimately backed down, but it was clear that the expectation for officers was to do what we were told without question, especially on matters of sexual progressivism.

Another instance of pushing the LGBTQ agenda at Fort Leavenworth occurred during an equal opportunity event on November 14, 2023. During one presentation, attendees were told that speech which was critical of the LGBTQ movement could be punished under the guise of “dignity and respect.” The speaker went on to say that commanders would be held accountable if they failed to enforce this new totalitarianism. The Army’s official motto is “This we’ll defend”—only it seems that sexually progressive ideology has priority in what is to be defended.

Here are but a few additional examples that show that celebrating pride has become a departmental priority across the military.

U.S. Army Col. Dan Blackmon advertised a since-closed online store selling 434th Field Artillery Brigade-branded gay pride shirts as a way of making the unit appear inclusive and himself a visible “ally” to the cause.*

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Will Renier, then spokesman for Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, posting his order for 434th Field Artillery Brigade pride shirts on X.

Maryland National Guard Colonel Brian T. Connelly posted photos of himself cavorting sexually with other military men while wearing a fetish pup mask. Though public attention came due to this deranged officer’s posting of his sexual escapades online, it’s been rumored that those who worked in proximity to Connelly were aware of his behavior long before his behavior was made public.

Last year, the DOD mandated the use of gender-neutral pronouns in writing awards. In a twist of irony, this forced a delay in processing Gen. Mark Milley’s retirement award because it referred to Milley as a man rather than “they.” The Pentagon reversed itself in response to a deluge of unwanted PR and congressional scrutiny.

Both West Point and the Air Force Academy offer gender-neutral bathrooms. Add to that, the Navy has selected a drag queen to be its official digital ambassador.

U.S. Space Force Col. Bree Fram is a man masquerading as a woman. He has made a point of using his status as a senior officer on the speaking and writing circuit to advocate for further left-wing ideological change across the military. Because Fram’s advocacy work aligns with the current administration, he has full institutional support to continue this activism while on duty and in uniform. In contrast, military officers who advocate for a return to military policy that honors traditional values face harassment and punitive inquiries by uniformed political commissars—more commonly known as equal opportunity (EO) advisors.

The Army publicized a male major who now goes by Rachel Jones as a positive example of “inclusiveness.” The story, published as an official Army public affairs product on army.mil, tells us that “coming out” to live “authentically” literally saved this officer’s life. Even though such fiction has become a normal ploy in military marketing, it was nevertheless a stark departure from the Army’s usual priority of highlighting fitness culture, given that Maj. Jones does not meet Army bodyweight standards.

Army policy mandates that overweight soldiers are not eligible for favorable personnel actions. But claim a transgendered identity and you’re ready for primetime marketing as the face of the Army. Despite the platitudes about how so-called transgender military members increase America’s defenses, the DOD is stonewalling a Freedom of Information Act request on the topic. Apparently, the process to trans military members is something that senior defense officials don’t want subjected to public review.

To openly voice disagreement with the so-called sexual liberation movement puts military members at odds with the regime. At the 2023 DOD Pride Celebration, former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros said that disagreement with the sexual depravity in vogue with our current elite is “hate for hate’s sake.” He was echoed at that event by Space Force Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, who used language harkening to conditions of civil war to argue that states enacting policies that respect traditional morality are in a condition of rebellion against the defense complex and its vision of “democracy.”

Pride gets more focus across the military than any other topic. There is one Veterans Day and one Memorial Day. In contrast, pride gets all of June and is celebrated every day in military EO offices. Most military members are offered more opportunities to attend pride-focused events than opportunities to train at a rifle range. The stock of rainbow-themed swag increases on military installations as supplies of training ammunition remain hard to come by. The DOD claims that celebrating the diversity of sexual behavior is about advocating for basic human rights. But in fact these are synthetic rights for cultural revolutionaries that trample upon constitutional and natural rights for honorable citizens.

The military brass can pretend that its subservience to the pride movement is routine and benign. But reality begs to differ. In recent dissertation interviews with veterans who left military service within the last decade, I observed a clear theme: military members who hold traditional views of morality are fearful of sharing their views, even when off base and among friends. They also shared that the increasingly open political posturing of progressive military officials increased suspicion and decreased trust and cohesion in the ranks.

In just a decade, the current crop of top defense policymakers have undone centuries of tradition and esprit de corps across the force. Veterans have experienced this change and are in large numbers discouraging their own children from joining. The Army’s recent abandonment of lesbian-themed recruiting pitches for returning to a marketing strategy that highlights teamwork and a warrior mindset betrays the feigned ignorance of political appointees running the DOD. There is an obvious gulf between what they say and what they know to be true.

Corporate business decisions to go all in on pride are driven far more by the pursuit of financial profit than actual belief in the righteousness of the Sexual Revolution. For example, BMW changes its logo each June only in Western countries. A growing number of companies eager to join in are finding that flying that flag is actually a business risk. Bud Light and Target are recent high profile examples.

In contrast, the DOD flashes the virtue signal beacon loudly for reasons of immediate political subservience to the cultural elite, even as doing so undermines public confidence and recruiting. An organization that specializes in considering the consequences of decisions should know better. Yet the desire for career enhancement overcomes reality in the minds of military officers.

The majority of those in the DOD who wave the flag are not truly committed to the cause. After all, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hasn’t volunteered for gender reassignment surgery. Yet they lack moral courage to stand for truth, and are content to be seen as swimming dutifully with the cultural current. Surrendering to a cultural lie, we must ask what else they would surrender to.

The image of the American soldier as a selfless servant to the nation was cemented through aggressive propaganda efforts during the era of world wars. High public trust ratings over the last three decades made the military an institution to be targeted by progressives in their social crusade. By forcing the military to embrace a left-wing policy agenda, progressive politicians can pitch revolutionary policy changes to the public by saying, “Look, the military believes this is a good thing, so should you.” This was a tactic the Obama Administration seized upon during its move to normalize the LGBTQ agenda across the nation.

If ruling elites are not stopped from misusing the military in this way, it will become the armed enforcers of elite desire, as has been the historical norm for militaries throughout history. If the LGBTQ agenda finds a permanent home in the military, we will have a nuclear armed force that views the traditional doctrine of sexual morality as an enemy to the state.

Conservatives have been far too willing to cede cultural territory in an attempt to placate Marxist revolutionaries, as Chamberlain placated the Nazi regime by ceding the Sudetenland in 1938. His declaration of “peace for our time” proved a foolish assertion. War came for Britain, and cultural war over what will become of the West is upon us now.

It’s time for the U.S. military to dump the pride theme in favor of focusing on what matters for military preparedness. Only one flag, the American flag, should be flown and saluted by our military.

*This has been corrected. The 434th Field Artillery Brigade-branded gay pride shirts were not worn during official unit physical fitness training events.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading
Threat of nuclear war.  Missile system on the background of sunset sky

Hollowed Out 

The U.S. military has deteriorated to the point where it might not be able to win even one major battle, much less two simultaneously. 

to the newsletter