Jewish World Review March 28, 2002/ 24 Adar II, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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Sending the women to save the suits | What can you say about the men in a society that sends women to fight its wars?

The temptation is to call them cowards. That might be too harsh (or it might not be). Whatever and whoever they are, they ought to feel shame and mortification when they look upon the photographs of Shoshana Johnson, a 30-year-old single mother of a 2-year-old daughter, languishing in an Iraqi prison. We can only hope that what is probably happening to her, at the hands of men who are taught by their degraded culture and abased religion to regard women as throwaway vessels of their perversions, is not happening to her.

The capture of the courageous Miss Johnson, and the news that another brave young woman, Jessica Lynch, is dead has some of the aging radical feminists beside themselves with pride and joy. Equal-opportunity death on the battlefield is the latest triumph of the feminist revolution. Body bags are the latest fashion, like something from the salons of Paris. (Just so the bags are for other women. Besides, the female casualties will be mostly poor whites and ghetto blacks, anyway.)

Miss Johnson's predicament, and the predicament of a little girl who may not see her mother again, is "heartbreaking," concedes JWR's Anne Applebaum, "but it is not entirely unique. [Miss] Johnson's child is one of tens of thousands who have been left behind while their mothers - or their mothers and fathers - go off to war. Is there anything wrong with that?"

Miss Applebaum thinks not. She cites no less authority than an assistant secretary of the Navy in the Clinton (naturally) administration as proof that Miss Johnson should be grateful for what is happening to her: "After the long struggle for acceptance, higher-ranking women in particular loathe the idea of treating mothers and fathers differently."

Of course, the feminists demand that women be treated differently once they're in uniform. Claudia Kennedy - a general, no less - broke down in tears when one of her colleagues pinched her bottom. When she recovered her composure, she pursued the pincher until she got him cashiered from the Army. Shoshana Johnson would gladly settle for a hard pinch this morning.

The spoiled-brat feminists have no understanding of what combat is about and no interest in finding out. Miss Applebaum likens soldiering to lawyering, and suggests that lady soldiers should get the kind of maternity leave available in any white-shoe law firm. They should have the right to take off to raise their children and return to military service a year later, or five years later, and maybe soldier a couple of days a week. "The military now needs to catch up to the civilian world," she writes. If you can wrestle with a writ and confront a tort without trembling, surely you can aim a mortar or fire a rocket-propelled grenade.

But it's not the spoiled-brat feminists who are to blame. It's the male policy-makers, both Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, for whom people are not flesh and blood who suffer actual pain and death, but are merely statistics to be moved around on a spreadsheet.

When a female colonel was captured during the first Gulf War a decade ago, she was subjected to what the Pentagon, after hemming and hawing, finally conceded were "sexual indecencies." Nobody at the Pentagon would talk about it because the fact of the "indecencies" went athwart the policies demanded by the feminists safe at home. The policy-makers, many of them chicken-hawks who were too frightened or too proud to wear their country's uniform, couldn't bear up under feminist pressure. An administration headed by a draft dodger, and a credibly accused rapist at that, could hardly be expected to regard "sexual indecencies" as anything more than a little frat-house fun.

The generals knew better, as they know better today. In the heat of the debate over women in combat a decade ago, when this newspaper was making points that almost no one else would, a very senior Pentagon general sidled up to me at a Washington reception and, looking over his shoulder to see that nobody was looking, whispered in my ear: "Keep it up. Keep it up. You're right. I just wish we could say so." Then he scuttled to refuge behind the buffet, in hot pursuit of an iced shrimp.

The editorialists at the New York Times, veterans of hip-to-hip combat in the salons of Manhattan, hailed the capture of Shoshana Johnson as the smashing of the "glass ceiling" over the battlefield. Women armed with sophisticated weapons, the New York Times said proudly, might even "outperform" men. This is no doubt on rare occasions true. A gun in the hands of a child, or even a 60-year-old newspaper editor, can be lethal.

Men can coarsen and toughen women for the battlefield, making them accomplished killers. But what kind of sorry excuse for a man would want to do that to the bearers of his children?

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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