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In yet another case of concern over the military’s growing political partisanship, social media have been ablaze with a TikTok post that went viral the other day. A 60-second video launched with a 30-second snippet of a Russian military advertisement, followed by a rosy animation of a little girl being raised by two lesbian parents. The Russian opening highlighted guns, masculine strength, physical excellence, and nationalism aplenty. The remaining 30 seconds changed dramatically in tone. Viewers might have interpreted it as a feminist political ad until the last five seconds. Hastily, the narrator tied in her happy upbringing with her decision to join the U.S. Army. Where did that come from? All it did was promote a growing surge in support for identity politics within the American military.
A Worrying Trend
Immediately, political figures commented on social media, the vast majority pointing out that the Russian ad displayed the admirable ambition and effort it takes to serve in Russia’s military. The American ad seemed to lack clear direction with a surprise ending. Many remember the rugged, prideful Army Strong television ads of the past that provoked optimism, power, and pride in our military. Put crudely, the first ad depicted a badass military committed to defending the homeland with vigor. The second presented a sweet family narrative that offered little about the requirements of military service.
Many on conservative media immediately lamented the ridiculous contrast, and, right on cue, Democrats retorted by expressing outrage at those engaging with “Russian propaganda.” In fact, all military service enticements use the tools of propaganda, biased in favor of the country making them, to inspire its citizens to join.
So will the American ad work? It does seem part of a specific theme to promote civic duty. A particularly woke CIA ad weeks earlier portrayed the political opinions of a self-described “cisgender millennial” Latina woman with generalized anxiety disorder working at the agency. It seems both the CIA and U.S. Army ads try to appeal to millennials and Gen Z youth, who apparently are assumed to have a built-in distaste to serve in organizations that promote American exceptionalism.
This shift in recruitment messaging reflects the Biden administration’s stated intentions to radically alter the composition, behavior, and attitudes of the military and intelligence communities. But many fear that these goals may weaken standards at a time when the threats to national security are mounting.
Read more from Jose Backer.
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