On the same day that I offered to the S.C. Senate a resolution that would formally ask our congressional delegation to take action to mitigate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s lifting of a 1994 ban on women in combat roles, this paper chose to offer an editorial in support of Secretary Panetta’s action. Certainly that is the privilege of the press in a land that still values the First Amendment to the Constitution. Interestingly enough, in making the case for this monumental change, the following sentenced was used:
“Other nations have long demonstrated that women were suitable for combat.”
This statement gives an open window to a greatly flawed philosophy – flawed in two ways, or perhaps, “on two fronts.” However, before I address that, I should re-emphasize that the context in which this resolution was offered was one of acknowledging the significant contributions of women in the military history of this country. Moreover, it was recounted that there have been exceptional acts of bravery and heroism by women serving in battle, from the days of the Revolution until today. God forbid that we should forget the 130 mothers, sisters and daughters that have made the ultimate sacrifice during our years of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Specifically, as I addressed my colleagues, my focal point was that of a Revolutionary-era teenage girl named Laodicia Langston, or “Daring Dicey” as she would become known. In a Whig family, living amongst Tories (loyalists), she learned that “Bloody Bill” Cunningham was planning an assault on the local band of patriots that included her brothers. She started out during the night, traveling four miles and crossing a swollen river to warn them of the impending attack. Nearly drowning, but, nonetheless successful, she warned them and they were able to redeploy and avoid slaughter by the British.
Which brings me to my opening statement – like her family, Dicey was an American and unconcerned by what “other nations” might do or think. At what point, did we depart from that perspective to think of ourselves as nothing more than “world citizens”?
The other element of this flawed philosophy is stating that women are “suitable for combat.” Mere suitability is a poor standard, not as it addresses the military, but as it addresses women. There is a fine line between creating opportunity for women and removing them from the position of respect that is a hallmark of a civilized people. We are in danger of crossing that line.
Lest we forget how important this idea is, keep in mind that the current enemies of the U.S. live in a barbaric society. This is seen so clearly in the manner in which they treat women.
As a matter of full disclosure, know that I have two daughters. What of the daughters they might have one day? Will they be fair game for a draft? Where does this end?
We need to have a debate about this critical matter. Our Congress needs to address this matter; it should not end with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. Our mothers, sisters and daughters are more than subjects for a mere social experiment.