And so it came, the coup de grace. The final "barrier" to "opportunities" for women in combat is no more. With a stroke of their pens, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey decreed that no battlefield mission or military role is off-limits to the female sex. The defense secretary and the general thus liberated mothers, daughters, sisters and wives to kill and be killed in the infantry, commando raids, even in Obama administration "overseas contingency operations." In so doing, they also slashed away at that last institutional protection for the space that separates men and women, where civilization once grew.
It (civilization) has been struggling there for decades, as social engineers and radical feminists -- all heirs to Marx -- have been cutting away at elemental human instinct, social grace, language and thought itself. This overhaul of manners and mores, the family structure and marriage -- even private aspects of the relationship between men and women -- has been successful to a point where the cultural argument against women in combat (women in the military being a lost cause) is rarely voiced, not even on the right. (I watched Fox News on women-in-combat announcement day, listening in vain for just one culture warrior.)
We are left to make only the utilitarian arguments -- body strength and speed, unit cohesion, even urinary tract infections and other hazards that front-line deployment pose to females. These are compellingly logical points, but they are unlikely to reverse an ideological juggernaut. When the secretary of defense says putting women in combat is about "making our military ... and America stronger" and no one says he's lying to further a Marxian ideal via social engineering, the cultural argument is lost, and the culture it comes from is bound and gagged, hostage to what we know as "political correctness."
I still see threads of the cultural argument in emails and some blog responses to the Pentagon's latest whack at creating "gender neutrality." It erupts like a reflex against the conditioning to deny differences defined, at their essence, by muscle mass and womb. Such conditioning erodes the male protective instinct -- which, surely, is what war is supposed to arise from -- and the female nurturing instinct, which surely is what a civilization depends on.
No more. Women with wombs and without manly muscle mass now count as Pentagon-approved "warriors," modern-day knights in Kevlar, soon to be humping 80-pound packs over mountain and desert.
Or maybe not. Didn't Gen. Dempsey indicate that dropping some of those old-fashioned strength and speed requirements might be in order? "If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn't make it," Dempsey said last week, "the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?" Of course not! Why train Navy SEALs when Navy OTTERs will do as well?
And what about their children, when these front-line warriors bear them? And their pregnancies, when they decide it's better for their mission, for their country, to terminate them? Don't think Daddy Government, once again, won't be a steady provider to his womenfolk.
And why not? "It is women who pass on the culture," my daughters' pediatrician -- a font of human wisdom after six of his own kids and endless patients -- used to tell me, his voice rising over baby girls screaming. But what kind of "gender-neutral" culture will they pass on?
Rather, what kind of gender-neutral culture have women already passed on? After all, this penultimate shift at the Pentagon (will the NFL be next?) is just the tail end of something, not the beginning -- the rewiring of the human spirit. In other words, the whole movement in the name of "equal rights" has no more to do with women being legally able to apply for a credit card and other aspects of equality before the law than ordering women into combat is about making the military and America stronger.
No, it's about behavioral manipulation and transformation -- the Equal Rights Amendment by executive fiat. These changes have been a long time coming. In my lifetime, I have watched even post-1960s standards of femininity, for example, plunge to a point where female tendencies toward privacy, intimacy and modesty have given way to norms of clinical-style revelation and numbing brazenness -- and I'm talking about today's "nice" girls, the ones who soon will be considered eligible for Selective Service.
Yes, I know, only 15 percent of our all-volunteer military is female -- even after decades of active government courtship to woo women into the ranks and make "a force that looks like America" (not Obama's Cabinet), as Bill Clinton has put it. But don't think this "opportunity" for the few comes without strings to the many. As Army Col. Ellen Haring pointed out on "PBS NewsHour" last week, "With full rights come full responsibilities."
And then what? Will gender-neutral raw recruits soon be brawling outside the bar (with the man "beating the snot" out of the woman, as one Iraq veteran recently suggested to me in an email)? Will gender-neutral male soldiers be trained out of their protective instinct toward women? Do we want to live with the results?
One senior officer with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan wrote this to me: "I would never want my mother, sisters, wife or daughter to have to experience the ravages of combat or, worse, become a prisoner of war. It goes against every fiber of my being."
Yesterday's man. For a better tomorrow, we need more like him.