Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Army and "Political Correctness"

As part of medical inprocessing, I had to get a shot today.  A few days ago we all received a packet explaining the different immunizations we could potentially receive (fortunately, I only received the combination Hepatitis A and B shot while some people got as many as 6).  I didn't read through any of the information except for the first page which just happened to be Hepatitis A.  One of the groups of people they recommend getting immunized from this illness was "men who have sex with men" - am I the only one who finds this messed up?  It's almost as if the Army is still living in the 80s - next, I'm going to learn about how AIDS is a disease that only occurs within the gay community, and poses no threat to heterosexual men or women.

Yesterday we received EO (Equal Opportunity) training as part of our orientation into the Army.  It's intended to educate people about race and gender issues (of course, given my English and Gender and Women's Studies major, parts of it seemed simplistic to me) and promote a better work environment based on "merit, fitness, and capability" (while the Army might believe that plagiarism is okay, especially when it comes to OPORDs and such, I still feel the need to at least acknowledge where that wording came from, therefore the link).  It wasn't too bad, but I was getting a bit annoyed with the examples the instructor chose.  At one point he discussed five different levels or types of harassment, including such things as separation (or something like that) and extermination.  For everyone one of these five points, he used Nazi Germany as an example which I got sick of for several reasons:
1) Having grown up in Germany, it occasionally gets on my nerves when it is always used as an example due to the Holocaust (yes, the Holocaust was horrible but there is more to German history, and, not to take away from the Holocaust, but unfortunately there are many other almost equally horrifying events and genocides that have occurred in world history tbough perhaps less well known).
2) In relation to that, the fact that many of the examples referred to such an extreme case as the Holocaust could potentially defeat the purpose of EO training because it gives people the excuse nothing they are doing is that bad so therefore it isn't necessarily wrong.
3) There are plenty of other examples of racism/sexism within this country's' past and present.  While I understand that some of the more contemporary ones could offend people in the room, that doesn't mean we couldn't mention the South, or the whole United States for that matter, before the Civil Rights Movement.

I had to put my gear together today - a lot of it was among some of the most current equipment on the market  (the MOLLE gear, which is the equivalent of an LBE (load bearing equipment) even has the ACU pattern - what a difference from the Vietnam era stuff) so I had never seen or used it before.  It is actually surprising how much money they are spending on this training given all the resources - and then what do they have us do with our afternoon?  Oh, that's right, scrub scuff marks off the wall - of course now the walls look even worse because rather than marks they have large splotches on them.  The life of a second lieutenant.

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