|Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Davis in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington|
When A Man Should Stand And FightOne of my favorite movies is Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. It's a story of a young idealist played by Jimmy Stewart whose appointment to the Senate has him face to face with the big boys of Congress. He finds himself standing alone, and almost being run out of DC. But with the help of his lady assistant played by Jean Arthur, he's able to do battle with the crooked politicians on Capitol Hill. The movie is, of course, idealistic in it's storytelling, but I'm a cheerleader for the against-all-odd's beliefs that good principals along with moral character counts for something today. Or at least it should. Those of us who want a better government and better laws know that it takes men, and today women, who will fight for those values that we believe in. We need to fight on, especially when the fight gets rough.
I watched Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a recent interview on MSNBC with Karen Finney, speak about her resolve to fight on for the passage of her bill: MJIA in the Senate. It appears that her fight is not very popular with some of her colleagues, as well with some of the media. She might appear stubborn, pushy, naive, even a boat-rocker, but if this issue has touched you in any way, you can't but admire the senator's tenacity and resolve to get it passed.
Senator Gillibrand's strategy is one of Bi-partisanship on this issue. A good strategy in my book, because a rapist doesn't care about your politics or many other things. This is not a crime against liberals, or conservatives, but against women, and some men, who are perceived as being weak. Rape is a weapon used to humiliate, and destroy a person's self esteem.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand won’t take no for an answer. The New York Democrat, widely credited with shining a harsh spotlight in the past year on sexual abuse in the U.S. military, is standing by a proposed radical change to the system of prosecuting such cases that goes far beyond other compromise measures advocated by other Democrats and has invited strong pushback from military leaders. -By Meredith Clark MSNBC
Kirsten Gillibrand takes a "Mr. Smith" stance on Sexual Assault
Selling Out From CompromiseYou cannot listen to the stories of the survivors of this crime, and not feel a challenge to act in some way. The Senator remarked that after hearing some of the victims stories, of not just the rape itself, but how these women and men were disregarded by their commanders, their cases never pursued, and how they themselves were cast out into a gray society, with little hope, sometimes homeless, with no benefits, or a chance to get help for their shattered lives, was what moved her to draft this bill.
"---And that's exactly what motivated me to do something about this issue. When I heard the stories of and men and women who are so brave who will literally give their lives for our country, to be not only be brutally assaulted and raped but then to have their commander turn their back on them--- that was the violation of trust--- that was the breach of trust that devastate these men and women, because they look at the military not just as a career but as a family--- as a unit--- as a group of people--- that they all share the same mission, to defend this country and defend our values. ---And when that is breached because a commander says to you that 'it's your own fault that you were raped' ---it's destroyed--- and that breach of trust is why justice is impossible for so many of our survivors."
The Foolish From The WisePerhaps it does take a Mrs. G going to Washington to dig her heels in and swim against the odds to make something happen. She refuses to accept a gray solution to a black and white issue. Many of us no doubt were hoping for a slam dunk passage of the MJIA by the end of December of last year. But the Senator knows that her passion can't overrule her common political sense on this important piece of proposed legislation. No doubt some of the top military brass have been courting various Senators about what it would mean if such a bill became a law. So Gillibrand must get the 60 votes needed to insure its success, or she could be staring a filibuster session in the face, which would almost kill her bill for certain. So she must use this time to persuade the Senators from both sides of the isle to join her in the fight.
No one really knows what's happening behind the walls of the various military institutions as this blog goes out to you. I believe that some commanders on various levels want true reform. Perhaps they are even taking steps to make that happen. But if what has been reported from the Pentagon on Sexism being routine in the military is accurate, a hard-nose zero-tolerance approach needs to be instituted at the entrance level of all of the military academies.
"Defense officials said on Thursday that students at the academies see sexual assault and crude behavior as an almost accepted part of their academy experience. Victims also feel peer pressure not to report incidents. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., the superintended at West Point, told AP that training needed to encourage cadets to find the moral courage to stand up to such behavior." -Sexism Is Routine In Military Academies, Says Pentagon Time January 10,2014If sexism is being accepted at the academy level as being routine, then that's where the real problem begins. The military shouldn't just encourage cadets to stand up to and police their own peers, the leaders themselves need to take a bare-knuckled approach in how they run their institutions. The words from nine of our NATO Allies, Lt. Gen. David Morrison, chief of staff of the Australian Defense Force still rings in my ears.
|Lt. General Davis Morrison gives a "no shaded gray" speech|
"No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian Army. I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values, and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."The Lt. General basically said, if you can't respect the men and women serving with you, "then get out!" (See my previous blog for the entire speech). I am stoked when hear a leader take a hard stand such as that. Do you think the men and women serving under his command would be afraid to report an incident of rape? So Pentagon, as much as your report is appreciate for it's transparency, what are you going to do about the way things are? Perhaps you should elevate your leadership from one that encourages your men to take a moral stance, to one that says; "if you don't conform to the values of this institution, then there's the door!" That's a real black and white speech, no gray area for misinterpretation. I don't apologize for praising our Aussie commander, instead of our American commanders. Show me something worth cheering about, and I will blog it in sky-writing. I don't mind being wrong for the right reasons. But it would stand to reason that an ounce of academy expulsions, are worth a ton of MST victims, to coin a phrase.
We maybe about 2 weeks away from this congressional cage-match with the Senator. If we've done our part by making our voices known to our Representatives and Congress folks, then we've done almost all we can do. It will be up to Congress to take a black-and-white stand on this issue. This is where the phrase "Support our troops" should really mean something.
As a tribute to so many of our sexual assault survivors, plus the fallen invisible warriors, and their families, I have produced a music video to your valiant efforts in combating this scourge and blight on our American Military. Also this is in dedication the Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her team who continue to take a stand. Thank you Mrs. G for going to Washington.
My special video in honor of Invisible Warriors
Have a great day. Write or email a service person this week. Let them know you're thinking about them.
Special Thanks to: HawkEye @TheScoopHere_NV and Barbara Jackson @Nyota_nura on Twitter for passing on articles and sources
MSNBC Blog- Gillibrand’s tireless fight against military sex assault
Time Magazine- Sexism Is Routine In Military Academies, Says Pentagon Time January 10,2014