Let’s see if I understand this correctly: The military, which has an estimated 26,000 cases of abuse each year, is blaming high school kids it has recruited for the sexual assault culture?
Maybe that’s why only about 3,000 cases are reported each year. People are terrified that they will lose their jobs, be demoted, marginalized or killed if they report assault or rape. Gillibrand introduced a bill Thursday that would allow service members to report cases to a trained prosecutor and not their commanding officers, who could, in fact, be guilty of sexual assault themselves or could be protecting others who have committed it.
“The issue of sexual violence in the military is not new,” Gillibrand said. “And it has been allowed to go on in the shadows for far too long. Due to a number of hard-to-fathom events, this issue has been raised to the national consciousness. We must seize the opportunity and act so we can get closer to a true zero-tolerance reality in the armed forces.”
That is not going to be a cakewalk. Take the Cadets for Christ, a religious group at the Air Force Academy. According to Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, it espouses the idea of “the shepherding movement for female cadets. [The women] must be shepherded by males, even lower-ranking males. They are told that their value is that they have eggs. They are asked, ‘What are you doing here? This is not want Jesus wants.’ ”
Weinstein has letters from parents of female cadets testifying to these accounts. Years ago, even Pat Robertson denounced this group’s tactics.
If this is a tolerated group at the Air Force Academy (and the other military academies are not much better), how can anybody, even the president, demand zero tolerance overnight? The fact is, he can try. But nobody is going to pay attention. Not until people start going to jail.
So what’s the answer? A court-martial in every case, and more people in power — including the president and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — not just sputtering with outrage, but acting out of outrage.