Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” was a syndicated cartoon that appeared in hundreds of North American newspapers from 1948 to 1975.
The comic strip chronicled the adventures of a clever opossum who lived among other talking animals in the Southern Okefenokee Swamp. Pogo was popular among children and adults with plenty of pithy political satire aimed at the latter.
One of the best-known quotations from Pogo is, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The line parodied a famous communication sent by U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after his victory at the Battle of Put-in-Bay during the War of 1812.
Perry’s message was, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” Kelly’s version sought to ridicule the anti-communist sentiment among Americans during the early Cold War era. Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy was lampooned in the comic as a shotgun-toting bobcat called “Simple J. Malarkey.”
Novel Military Training
Recently, a friend urged me to check out a government website featuring a Department of National Defence report on the subject of “Combatting systemic racism and racial discrimination in the Defence Team.”
The site encourages Canadians to “Learn how the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are confronting systemic barriers that discriminate against Indigenous, Black, People of Colour and racialized members of the Defence Team.”
Apparently, the DND now has training materials that will root out alleged prejudice and other flaws in the human condition. New resources include an anti-racism toolkit, a glossary of terms in the anti-racism lexicon, and a curated list of information sources on anti-racism, equity, inclusion, and diversity.
Help is also available for CAF members who perceive themselves to be victims of systemic racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-black racism, anti-Asian racism, and the intersection of racism with oppressive lived experiences, such as LGBTQ2+ prejudice, gender and disability discrimination, and white supremacy.
Who knew that the Canadian military is such a repository for bigotry and hate? Was Pogo right—is the enemy us?
South of the border, American Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has discovered the same kind of racialized fifth column in the ranks of U.S. armed forces. He too is laser-focused on military training related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Evidence of Austin’s woke reformist tenacity surfaced during a 2021 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton questioned the secretary about several hundred whistleblower complaints from service members who claimed they were essentially being tutored in critical race theory.
According to a June 2021 Breitbart report, Cotton testified that one Marine told him that “a ‘military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism,’ and that several officers are now leaving his unit because of that training.”
Another service member told Cotton’s investigative team that “their unit was required to read ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo, which claims, ‘White people raised in Western society are conditioned into a white supremacist world view.’”
For those who take their cues from neo-Marxist academics, legacy cultural institutions, or corporate HR departments, critical race theory and LGBTQ2+ affirmation is regarded as long overdue. Apparently, we have a stubborn military cohort of cisgendered, race-unconscious, patriotic males who must be either re-programmed or purged.
Since the leadership of just about every formative institution in Western society has fallen in line with the woke left, why should the military remain an exception?
Collective Shame Will Not Improve Esprit de Corps
Self-doubt is a corrosive human pathology, and evoking collective shame can be a cruel practice. Over the decades since the end of World War II, the conviction that the West is humanity’s worst enemy has been insidiously embedded in the liberal psyche.
People crippled by self-doubt lose confidence in themselves and their judgment. They constantly question their history, values, knowledge, and experience. They can’t confidently describe their level of competence and are uncertain about their ability to achieve desired results. They can never trust that they’re doing the right thing.
On a battlefield, this is a form of self-handicapping madness that will assure defeat. “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt,” wrote William Shakespeare.
The opposite of self-doubt is self-assurance, honor, competence, and purpose. These are the kind of virtues that “Canada’s Defence Team” and other Western military leaders should be instilling in the ranks of our armed forces.
There are plenty of horrible examples of racist behavior in the history of North America and the world. Yet, in Western nations, from World War II onward, it may well have been the emergence of a color-blind military that set the stage for civil de-segregation and mutual respect between citizens of all races and creeds. There’s little room for division in a foxhole.
In fact, the enemy isn’t “us.” Instilling this Pogoesque disposition in the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is enormously self-defeating. It’s a safe bet that this sort of training will never appear in the manuals of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army.
Insisting on the acceptance of collective shame from a maligned male contingent in our service ranks is unlikely to advance the general esprit de corps of the nation’s armed forces.
Present-day woke military authorities might do well to recall the advice of Sir Winston Churchill: “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.