global politics, relationally

The Secret the US Keeps from Its Soldiers

| 1 Comment

Soldiers in Fort Gordon, Georgia were given “inappropriate” information, information that might compromise their ability to defend the national security of the United States. The slideshow that contained this information was unauthorized. About 400 soldiers saw a presentation that fell outside of the standards of the US military. It was a deviation. Unit instructors will be subject to further training to make sure that there are not “further instances” of providing inappropriate information. Sharing it “sent the wrong signal.”

What is this deviant information, the dissemination of which needs to be stopped and the sharing of which needs to be prevented in the future? The existence of white privilege. The soldiers were told that some people had the “luxury of obliviousness” to race relations, because “race privilege gives whites little reason to pay attention to African Americans or how white privilege affects them.” It was explained to them that “to be white in American means not having to think about it.”

In other words, for a military that cannot even count how many wars it is fighting, the fact that the soldiers in it might give the impression that white people have privilege – there’s the real danger.

Several problems, in no particular order: 1) there is white privilege, in the US and in the military; 2) white privilege is much more dangerous than (gasp!) soldiers knowing about it; 3) hiding race problems don’t make them not exist; 4) since when is it ok for the military to direct social information?; 5) if talking about white privilege is not approved diversity training, what does the justified training look like?; 6) given race relations issues and suggestions of race bias in military tactics, one wonders if “we are all on the same team” is even a serious attempt to address them; 7) if the “Army reflects the diversity of American society,” does that mean that “American society,” does that mean that women are 14.6% of the American population (actually 50.8%)?; 8) if I keep going, I’ll never get any of the writing done that I need to …

tldr: The big bad US military is afraid of its trainees knowing white privilege is a thing.