President Trump has issued an order that, except in unusual circumstances, transgender people will not be able to serve in the US military. This is a good idea. No, not because that means we all get to trample on the rights of those who are or decide to be transgender, rather because the point of a military, like any other organisation, is to produce an output. That output to be go kill the other poor bastards for their country while not dying for our own. That, in turn depends upon a number of things, sure, logistics, equipment, training, they’re important, but the vital part of the system is the culture.
We actually say this about all the other organisations out there. Google must have a culture that reflects the standard liberal progressive values of the day. Because that’s how it’s going to be relevant to a society which embodies those liberal progressive ideas. Humph, well, yes, but that is the argument being made, isn’t it? We’ve seen people arguing that as Twitter has a higher penetration among the black population therefore Twitter must hire lots of blacks because. Humph again, that Twitter seemingly serves the black population well is proof that the melanin content of the producers of Twitter doesn’t matter but that is not an argument likely to be accepted today.
But we do have these two competing ideas, perhaps ideals. One is that an institution should be engineered to reflect what we’d like the wider society to be like. Or perhaps what some of the more vocal people insist they’d like society to be like and therefore so should the rest of us. Social engineering, obviously. Then there’s the other view, one I hold, that we don’t or at least shouldn’t give a damn about that and instead just concentrate on the output of said organisation. If, however it’s working, it is actually working then that’s fine.
Twitter is, as it is insisted it is, serving blacks well. Great. Google seems to be serving up search requests (or more accurately, selling ads) whatever the gender preoccupations of the engineers inside it. Which brings us to the military:
The White House has announced orders to formally ban transgender people from serving in the military, following up on Donald Trump’s controversial policy pledge that sparked widespread backlash last year from civil rights groups and US defense chiefs.
Despite opposition from top military officials and previous rulings against the ban, which LGBT rights groups have challenged in court, a memo from the secretary of defense released late Friday night said trans people are “disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances”.
Should we be changing that military culture in order to reflect the liberal progressive ideas of a certain minority of the wider culture? Or should we be concentrating upon the effectiveness of said military, its output? I would argue the second.
The US military very definitely skews more conservative than the rest of the wider society. The Army, more than the other arms, very definitely skews more Southern than the country does. There’s nothing at all right or wrong about such, it just is. The American military is also an extremely effective organisation at its job, killing other poor bastards for their country. That depends to a great extent upon that internal culture – accepting that logistics, equipment, training, also play their part.
The US military was also a ghastly shambles in the 1970s, when that culture thing got away from them and the institutions themselves are petrified of it happening again.
Is it morally correct that trans people cannot serve in the military? Not that I can see, not in any manner. Is it likely to increase the effectiveness of the output of said military, the thing we’re actually, or should be, worried about? Given that conservative nature of the institution and its culture, yes. Therefore it’s a good idea.
But it is obviously true that in order to agree with that position you need to be doing what isn’t generally done these days, consider the output rather than the form of an organisation as being the paramount interest.