View from the Trenches: Open Letter to the SARC

Screen-Shot-2015-05-14-at-9.33.52-AMI’m a senior electrician and operations manager. In both roles, my major function is to lead, and to get people to do their best, as well as to get the job done: on time and on budget. In other words its up to me to get the best my people can do, whether they are white, brown, black, or purple; male, female, or other. I just don’t care.

Are you a competent electrician, able to do all of the duties of the position? That’s my only question. Granted there are parts of the job that require physical strength, there are parts that require a certain type of intelligence. If I need five hundred feet of trench hand dug in wet clay, I’m unlikely to (if I can help it!) send a five foot two, 98 pound electrician (whatever their gender) to do it. To me that’s common sense. But it happens, it also happens that I end up doing it myself, I don’t like it either, but that’s life. The mission is the thing. And my mission is to get the electrical done, come hell or high water.

One of the places I learned that was in Air Force ROTC way back in the age of steam airplanes, and I learned it from men who had driven airplanes from England to places like Schweinfurt, and from islands like Saipan to Tokyo. They understood the costs of the mission very well and accepted it. That mission (unlike mine), projecting through air power the overwhelming force of the United States, cost them the loss of many of their friends. They, and their friends, willingly paid it. They were warriors.

And we are lucky, we still have warriors but, it seems to me that the Air Force has forgotten their mission, and become a touchy-feely, don’t hurt me outfit. If so, it has become a flawed weapon, not to be trusted, and that is the point of this article.

I start with the original poster’s explanation of the author because it is right to do so.

Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. I’m publishing her letter here not just because it captures in visceral form a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly from airmen who are frustrated by increasingly tone-deaf and overwrought approaches to this issue, but also because I believe her input raises (or renews) two important questions. First, what is the current Sexual Assault Prevention program doing for the Air Force? Second, what is it doing tothe Air Force? Kayce’s input explores these questions in a powerful way. Enjoy and respond. -Q.

★       ★       ★       ★       ★

Dear SARC,

I got up this morning as an Airman in the United States Air Force. I got up and I put on my uniform, I pulled back my hair, I looked in the mirror and an Airman looked back. A strong, confident military professional stared out of my bathroom mirror, and I met her eyes with pride. Then I came to your briefing. I came to your briefing and I listened to you talk to me, at times it seemed directly to me, about sexual assault. You talked about a lot of things, about rivers and bridges, you talked about saving people and victimization. In fact you talked for almost a full ninety minutes, and you disgusted me.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way. […]

When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.

Read it all: One Airman’s View: Open Letter to the SARC : John Q. Public.

There is nothing to add to that, except to thank God for women, no warriors, like Kayce.

Lead her

Follow her

—or—

Get the hell out of her way!

McLintock

I’ll be honest with you, I’m still bouncing around the clouds that Jess both got out of the hospital yesterday, and that I had some small contact with her.

Cut me some slack here, it’s only a week since we thought we were going to lose her. Frankly, I never opened my reader yesterday, and it’s likely I won’t today either.

So in honor of a miracle, lets just enjoy one of Jess’ (and mine as well) favorite movies.

 

Starting Another Year

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlbo...

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, are encircled by both the Garter and the collar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it very important to thank Jess for her wonderful article yesterday. She said many nice things about me, some of which are true. :-) Where she is really right, is the strain of writing a blog. I decided quite early that it was reasonable to post at least once a day, and while I have never really reconsidered, doing my 4-15 hundred words 7 times a week and 52 weeks a years has often been a strain. Part of that is the unrelieved gloom of the political situation. and part of that is my memory of a better America, where a man worried about his honor. The good thing is that I have found it still exists, you just don’t see it on TV. And not just us old Americans either. One of the lessons that Jessica brings us is that the generations coming after us, and indeed in England as well as America, are very much like we are. We definitely need to increase the tribe, but that can be done. We are not starting completely over.

And, never doubt that she is an integral part of this blog, her by-line hasn’t appeared much in the last few months, and there are reasons for that, I understand and agree with them, but without her, this blog would have gone under several times, when she has rescued me from the ‘Slough of Despond’. It will likely happen again. So, if you like what I write, remember what I told a distinguished contributor from her wonderful blog, All Along the Watchtower yesterday, ” A lot of it, which won’t surprise you, is Jess, more behind the scenes than I would prefer. Muse, partner, supporter, and more, I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.”

One of my hobbies (time-wasters, if you prefer) has become the real estate listings in the £ Daily Mail. No, I’m not seriously shopping but when you live in a world that was settled slightly over a hundred years ago, it is fun to look at houses that are a bit older. Like this one.

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Click to embiggen

It’s in the village of Painswick in Gloucestershire, and it’s called Castle Halle. The description says it is the third castle on the site which records say was occupied by Saxon Thane Ernsige before the Conquest. It passed into the control of the Lords Talbot, and the final Talbot, John of Shrewsbury  demolished the castle in about 1442 and there are some traces remaining. Sir Henry Winston lived here until his death in 1618 and presumably raised his daughter, Sara, here. Sara made a pretty good marriage, marrying Sir Winston Churchill whose son, John Churchill, later the First Duke of Marlborough, who became Queen Anne’s great general, and whose family eventually brought us another Sir Winston, and intermarried into the Spencer’s as well, thus being ancestors of Princess Diana as well.

I don’t care what you say, you just can’t buy a house with a history like that like that in Nebraska :-) I would bet ours are a bit more energy-efficient though.

But, hey, it’s Sunday and we try most weekends to have a movie. So let’s start the fourth year right, with a John Wayne flick. How about War of the Wildcats, and while we watch it, maybe we should think about having an oil boom somewhere besides North Dakota and Texas.

Enjoy

Saturday Matinee

We’ve had an interesting week, looking at the basics of why we do what we do, in the way that we do. So, let’s relax a bit today.

We deserve it, I think. After all we made it through another week, with all the problems it (and they) dumped into our lap.

So let’s enjoy the movie, and hope we don’t end up reenacting it, for real.

Americans Aren’t Better Than Everyone Else, But Our Ideals Are

188374_10150136440405747_803215746_6646993_415462_nFirst, an apology. There have been things going on in my personal life that have seriously distracted me, and while that is really not an excuse, it will have to do as the reason that my content has not been as good as usual the last couple of weeks. Hopefully it will stabilize soon, and it will get better here.

We, as Americans often wonder at the reactions we engender from the rest of the world. Is it jealousy, envy, dislike, or hatred, and does it even matter what it is. But, typically we like to be liked, and wonder why when we aren’t. D.C McAllister over at The Federalist has an article up that explains it, and American Exceptionalism as well as any I’ve ever read. Enjoy.

In 1983, when I was 16 years old, I lived in Germany—it was West Germany then—as an American foreign exchange student. It was a politically tense time. Germans turned a critical and often suspicious eye toward America while President Ronald Reagan negotiated nuclear-arms reduction with the Soviets. The United States had deployed medium-range nuclear missiles to Germany in the Cold War and many Germans wanted them removed.

Reagan, however, wasn’t going to budge unless the Soviets agreed to reduce their armaments. It was a zero-zero arrangement, and the Soviets weren’t very cooperative. Many German youth took to the streets to protest American nuclear policy—protests fueled by nuclear fallout propaganda films and a general distrust of Reagan, who was rightly seen as an “America first” president. This was the environment I stepped into as a teenager from a conservative military town in the American South.

It wasn’t long before I got my first taste of anti-Americanism. I had just arrived in Frankfurt and was walking through the train station to head north to a small village near the Elbe river. The corridors were lined with young people, wearing grunge clothes covered in graffiti, their hair spiked and painted black. I walked awkwardly through them in my American jeans, tennis shoes, and plaid shirt, my hair in a ponytail, dragging my American Tourister luggage behind me.

As I waited to purchase my ticket, a man sauntered up to me, sucking on a crumply rolled cigarette and smelling like a wet ashtray. I turned to him and smiled, saying “Hi,” and trying to uphold the stereotype of the outgoing and friendly American. [read more]

via Americans Aren’t Better Than Everyone Else, But Our Ideals Are.

As i mentioned Thursday this week was the thirty-fifth anniversary of John Wayne’s death. Few actors have personified the American ideal of manhood better, and so let’s remember and enjoy one of his films, how about Big Jake this time.

 

Friday Matinee

Well, gang, western civilization is still slipping down that slippery slope to hell in a handbasket but, today we’re going to ignore it.

My dearest friend and coauthor is going on holiday and what better way to tell her to have a wonderful time than to start her off with an old favorite. Besides us ‘comfortable’ older men have to stick together around these young and beautiful women.

And so for you (and the rest of us), Jess how about Rio Lobo.

And to tell you the truth, I need a break as well. So posting for a week or so will be light to nonexistent, depending how well I can keep myself entertained.

And Jess, you’ll be missed, so for all of us, have a wonderful time, dearest friend :-) xx

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