Updated on March 13, 2020
Veterans, Conservatism, and Modern Academia
If you’re a conservative – and especially if you’re a conservative student – you know that higher education is packed with liberalism and leftist ideologies. It’s everywhere. It’s pervasive. And it’s doing a disservice to society. It’s not just conservatives that have problems when they leave the service and make a commitment to achieve or complete a college degree.
Just prior to retiring from the Army, I decided to go back to school. It wasn’t entirely of my own desire. As I was transitioning, I conducted many very promising interviews with companies interested in my skills as a counterintelligence special agent. Because my main function was the protection of our country’s most sensitive and classified information, I interviewed with several companies to safeguard their trade secrets, manage their security operations, or work in project management. The interviews went well and would everything was pointing to a quick and easy transition into civilian life, except…
As the corporate recruiter and I would wind down the interviews, the conversation always ended up somewhere around, “so, what was your undergrad degree in?” Up to that moment, I was “exactly what we’re looking for” and “someone who possessed the skills we desperately need.” When I responded that I didn’t have a college degree, it was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The good mood turned to sadness and disappointment. “I’m sorry, but this position requires at least a bachelors degree.” Inevitably, it didn’t matter if my degree was in gender studies, as long as I had that piece of paper. After nearly a dozen promising interviews that ALL ended the same way, I decided to just give up my job search and get that damn piece of paper. Never mind that I was fully qualified for the job, had been working in that selective and skilled line of work for over 16 years, and that I could start immediately – I didn’t have have that little piece of paper that miraculously made me employable in my field.
As I began my educational journey, I quickly learned that being a conservative in academia was a perilous minefield of calculated risk and strategic leaks of ideology. After my first arrest in 2013 that propelled me into gun rights activism, I took an active part in the legislative process. Since I got out of the Army on terminal leave in October 2014, I was able to lobby and push for open and campus carry legislation during the 2015 legislative session. On one hand, I was taking government and history classes with professors that worked with me so that I could attend important hearings and not be penalized for missing classes.
My undergraduate college had an attendance policy that allowed professors to dock students’ grades if they missed too many classes. As I said, most of my professors didn’t do that because I was getting real world experience in my the field that was conducive to my pre-law associates degree. Unfortunately, one professor was a complete leftist: my sociology professor. We butted heads often, but I always did my work and scored high on all my assignments and exams. She thought that learning about poor people and social brainwashing, I mean, engineering was more important than learning about the legislative process. I missed more than my allotted number of days and at the end of the semester, I got my first “C.” It was really a “B,” but because of my absences, I was penalized.
I was required to attend a bunch of seminars with guest speakers in pursuit of my bachelors of history degree. I never once attended a seminar or guest speaker that was a conservative or libertarian. Not once. They didn’t exist. I was lucky enough that at least half of my professors were conservatives or libertarians. It kind of helped that I was also able to craft my courseload to ensure that I had the same professors through most of my undergraduate because in the classes where my professors were hardcore leftists, I felt like I had to work twice as hard on my projects and papers because I knew they weren’t going to agree with the graders’ political philosophies and I had to ensure that my arguments were rock solid and supported.
As hard as being a conservative/libertarian is the higher education world, it’s pales in comparison to being a veteran in a world of snowflake young people who were raised under the mindset that there are no losers and everyone deserves a trophy. Everyone exists to make them feel good about themselves and if you have thin skin and get easily offended, it’s everyone else’s fault that these kids can’t manage their emotions and deal with adversity.
While I spent my entire career in military intelligence (first SIGINT, then CI), I was a Tactical MI Soldier. It wasn’t until I became a First Sergeant that I went to my first strategic unit. For all but two years of my career, I was assigned to infantry, cavalry, and tier one units. Anyone that has ever been around such troops knows that these environs aren’t exactly the most politically correct places in the world (don’t worry, the social justice warriors are trying to change this).
Combat arms units have some of the most colorful language known to man. And when you get to the more specialized units, like Ranger and SF, it gets better (or worse, based on your perspective). I’m still convinced to this day that it takes a special kind of mental disorder to be a Ranger. I remember during my Primary Leadership Development Course at Ft. Lewis one of my classmates hollering for everyone to look in the hallway. As I peeked out, this naked Ranger who was leaving the showers had tucked his junk between his legs so it protruded from behind. As he hopped backwards bent over he shouted, “Look, I’m marmaduke!” I have no idea what they means and it was the last thing I ever wanted to see, but it was hilarious and others tried to outperform him for the rest of the cycle.
Combat arms Soldiers don’t have filters; they tell it like it is. If someone doesn’t like you, he says so. He doesn’t mince words. If you’re acting retarded or like a douchebag, he told you that you were retarded or a douchebag (or something worse). You quickly learned to develop a thick skin and take everything with a grain of salt. Even when the intent was to offend you, you either shrugged it off or duked it out…then got back to work. “Suck it up, buttercup” is the motto of most combat arms (and really most) troops.
However, I’ve learned that this mentality doesn’t translate well into the world of academia. See, these kids want to feel special. They NEED to feel special. Some require that everyone else bend to their reality or else. They’ve mastered the complaint and grievance processes. It’s all fun and games…until they don’t want to play anymore or until you’re not in their circle. The very same behavior that was engaged in and tolerated suddenly becomes offensive when you aren’t “one of them.”
If you have a disagreement in academia, unlike in the military, you automatically engage in total war by immediately jumping to processes that could potentially cause long-term harm to a person’s success in education and the professional world. In the military, we were encouraged or even forced to settle disputes at the lowest level possible. You didn’t go to the sergeant before trying to settle your differences with your fellow Soldier. You didn’t go to the platoon sergeant until you gave the squad leader a chance to solve the problem. And you damn sure didn’t go to the Battalion or Brigade Sergeant Major or commander without giving your First Sergeant a chance to solve the issue. While most leaders had an open door policy, they wouldn’t give you the time of day if you didn’t try to solve the problem at the lowest level possible first (unless the problem had to do with an intermediate leader, of course).
Not so in academia. Most students are so weak-spined and fragile that their first intentions is to the run to the place where they can do the most damage in retaliation for being offended or slighted in any way.
These kids aren’t used to the frank talk and harsh reality that combat veterans have lived. We’ve learned not to waste time with flowery words or trying to talking around something just to protect someone’s ego. Life is too fleeting to spend it trying to avoid offending every little snowflake that crosses our paths (Note: by “snowflake” I obviously mean “easily offended person”). We speak our minds. We say it like it is and we don’t mince our words or try to tone down our opinions. This doesn’t mean that we’re never offended or that our words don’t invoke strong emotions. Quite the contrary. However, instead of running to mommy and daddy, we address the source of the criticism or the offense. We resolve our conflicts amongst ourselves so that we aren’t burdening others with our petty disputes and inability to control our own emotions.
Today’s youth – and by youth I mean essentially the under 30 crowd – haven’t learned these skills because they were raised by a society that increasingly takes care of their every need. Their biggest challenges in life are remembering the passwords to all their social media accounts and trying to find out who unfriended them last night. And when a veteran comes along that speaks a totally different language, they have no idea how to respond to the adversity their presence or their words engenders. So, they do what they’ve been raised to do: whine to someone. Get someone else to fight their battles for them because they are too weak to fight them themselves. By fight, I don’t mean physically. I generally mean simply addressing the problem at its source and either coming to a peaceful resolution and understanding or recognizing that you’re not gonna get anywhere with this person and just move on with your life. Some people simply can’t accept that not everyone is going to get along no matter how much you try to force it.
The problem in academia is that instead of trying to instill a strong will and an ability to manage adversity, it coddles the weak at the expense of the strong when it should be strengthening the weak with the skills to handle adversity instead of running from it. Academia prefers to simply force the “offender” to see things the way the weak sees them instead of trying to get both sides to find mutual agreement or understanding. There’s this unrealistic expectation that we’re all supposed to like each other.
Now, don’t get me wrong: everyone should treat everyone else with respect to the best of their ability. It does no good to intentionally cause harm in others or make their lives harder than they already are. I believe in treating everyone with whom I come in contact with respect until I’m given a reason not to. I don’t care where you’re from, who you have sex with, what you look like, or what kind of genitalia you have. I treat everyone I meet with respect unless I have reason not to, which usually means they disrespect me.
I want to further delve into this idea of “respect.” Respect doesn’t mean that I see things your way and accept your reality. If you’re someone that demands that everyone must agree with your world view on things or else they are disrespecting you, then I’m not your guy. I won’t play your pretend games just to make you feel better about yourself. I won’t intentionally poke at those beliefs either, but don’t expect me to change my beliefs just because you disagree.
That said, I am very conservative in my beliefs. I don’t support gay marriage, think global warming is a natural phenomenon, and believe that a person born a male will always be a male. But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat a gay couple, a hippy, or a man that thinks he’s a woman with disrespect. And I won’t force my beliefs on them either. I have no problem with gay people or “trans” people or hippies. I also don’t support drinking, smoking, or doing drugs either, but I’m not going to tell you how to live your life as long as it doesn’t affect my life. Live and let live!
The last thing I care about in this life is who you love, what you look like, where you came from, how you were raised, or what your mental disorder is. I love everyone EQUALLY. When I say, “equally,” I mean exactly what that word means – the same. No one gets special treatment for any reason whatsoever and people can have whatever their skills and talents allow them to achieve. I believe in equal opportunity, but not equal output.
We all have different talents that allow us to score higher, run faster, think better, create more, and achieve our effort dictates. We should all succeed or fail on our own merits, not because society sets us up or tears us down. Either we’re all equal or we aren’t. It’s time we started actually acting like it.
Fellow vets, just watch yourself. These liberal kids these days want nothing more than to tear you down. They hate you and want you to fail, especially if you’re a conservative veteran. The cancel culture is alive and well and those of us who have lived a hard life of near death experiences are high on the target list for forced social engineering. And for the love of all that is Audie Murphy DO NOT talk about your PTSD or previous suicide attempts! It makes people think you’re just one Adderall away from something bad. Don’t ever talk about your progress dealing with your combat experiences. The worst thing most of these kids have ever had to deal with was having their mocha choca latte frappa spresso made wrong.