The face of war is never pretty, but the war in Iraq has given us images never seen before. It has shown us pictures of mothers being sent into battle against one of the cruelest regimes in the world.
What is the matter with the men of this country - our political and military leaders - that they acquiesce to the policy of sending mothers of infants to fight Saddam Hussein? Are they the kinds of men who, on hearing a noise late at night, would send their wives or daughters to confront an intruder?
Three young women were part of the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance Support Company that was ambushed March 23 near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Fortunately, Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, has been rescued, thanks to an Iraqi who told U.S. soldiers where American POWs were being held.
In the joy of reconciliation, let us not forget the shame on our country that this single mother of a 2-year-old daughter was assigned to a position where she could be captured. Johnson, whose family immigrated to the United States from Panama when she was 6 years old, didn't volunteer to serve in combat. She volunteered to be a cook.
Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, didn't volunteer for combat. She wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and joined the Army because jobs were scarce in West Virginia.
Lynch was rescued by U.S. troops thanks to an Iraqi who was disgusted by the way her captors were slapping around a wounded prisoner. Even that Iraqi understood how a female POW is different from a male POW.
The third woman, Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian from Flagstaff, Ariz., didn't make it back alive. Her body was discovered by U.S. troops in a shallow grave.
Piestewa, 23, whose father served in Vietnam, was the single mother of a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. Did the Iraqi threat to U.S. national security really require those two children to sacrifice their only parent?
The reason these sorry things have happened is that the men in our government and in the U.S. military lack the courage to stand up to feminists and repudiate their assault on family and motherhood.
Johnson, Lynch and Piestewa were the victims of trickle-down feminism. While it is the female officers and militant feminists who demand the "career opportunities" that come from combat duty, it is the privates who get the dangerous assignments.
The pictures of a terrified Johnson being interrogated by her Iraqi captors and of Lynch carried on a stretcher show war's toll on women and mothers. How about the cost to the little ones left behind?
A picture that graphically shows this side of the problem is of 2-year-old Teresa Garcia clinging to the legs of her mother, Army Capt. Dorota Garcia, as she stood ready with rifle and gear before departing for Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas.
Cable television is giving us front-line coverage 24 hours a day of the war in Iraq from "imbedded" and "non-imbedded" journalists. Funny thing, one statistic is missing from their comprehensive reports.
How many more mothers of infants and toddlers from the 212,000 women in the U.S. military are taking part in the war in Iraq? How many are single mothers? How many are married mothers whose husbands are already serving in Iraq and are leaving their children without parents at home?
How many are like Army Spc. Tamekia Lavalais, leaving behind her 21-month-old baby whose father is already in Iraq? She said she would not have joined the Army "if I'd known this was going to happen."
The government won't give us the count on mothers, and reporters seem afraid to ask. Is it because it is classified information that would be harmful to national security if the enemy knew it, or because it would be harmful to the reputations of U.S. politicians and generals if Americans knew about our military's anti-motherhood policy?
Or is it because reporters are chicken in the face of the militant feminists? Bernard Goldberg tells us in his best-selling book Bias <buy book> <read review> that even tough Sam Donaldson "turns into a sniveling wimp when it comes to challenging feminists."
Politicians have brought this embarrassment on our nation because they have allowed themselves to be henpecked by militant feminists. The idea of men sending women, including mothers, to fight is contrary to our belief in the importance of the family and motherhood. Furthermore, no one respects a man who would let a woman do his fighting for him.
Women have served and continue to serve our country admirably, both on the home front and in the U.S. military. But there is no evidence to support the proposition that assigning women to combat duty advances women's rights, promotes national security, improves combat readiness or wins wars.
The United States is alone in this extraordinary social experiment to send mothers to war. We hope, when the war is over, that President Bush and the military will change these shameful feminist policies.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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