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What Harambe Can Teach Us About The Civilian-Military Divide
On May 28, Harambe, a lowland silverback gorilla, was killed by a sniper to save a small boy who had fallen into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe’s final moments were captured in a video that immediately went viral. He was 17 years old.
During the media firestorm that ensued, a number of wildlife experts went on the record to voice support, however reluctant, for the zoo’s decision to ice Harambe. Nevertheless, the tragic ordeal ignited a fierce, albeit brief, online debate, which, at its most entertaining, pitted angry animal-rights proponents against armies of trolls who mocked the outrage as an example of political correctness run amok.
The controversy around Harambe’s death quickly fizzled out, but the jokes continued to spread like a weeds on a forgotten grave. The viral hashtag #JusticeForHarambe was soon replaced by #DicksOutForHarambe, and thus the gorilla’s legacy grew, both in size and degrees of absurdity. And perhaps no single group contributed to that growth more than the online veterans community, where “dicks out for Harambe” — defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of pulling your dick out of your pants as a sign of respect for our nigga Harambe” — has become a sort of rallying cry for young vets who feel increasingly at odds with a society that’s “turned soft.”
On veteran blogs, Reddit threads, and Facebook pages, Harambe has found a welcome home in the afterlife. In the four months since his death, he’s surfaced in countless military-oriented memes and tribute videos, sometimes in uniform or wielding a machine gun, but usually just naked, as he was at the time of his death. In one photo, a group of soldiers kneel around a banana with nothing but the words “Praise him” printed across the image. No further explanation was necessary. It went viral.
Plenty of ink has been spilled lately by people trying to make sense of the so-called “civilian-military divide,” but I’d argue that one need look no further than the military’s infatuation with Harambe to uncover the truth they seek. While Harambe memes have been decried by people — especially on college campuses — as either racist, or sexist, or a combination of both, among veterans the gorilla’s legacy has transcended current debates over race and gender to represent a unified front on the digital battlefield, where liberal crusaders are quick to cut down anything that whiffs of masculinity.
There’s a reason PC culture hasn’t flourished in the military as it has in other professional settings, and it’s obvious to anyone who’s ever deployed overseas: being hypersensitive to everyone’s feelings is counterproductive to nurturing the stuff that’s required to survive war. In combat, as in any other situation where survival depends on the cohesiveness of a small group, a certain degree of callousness is crucial. So is honesty: Soldiers don’t have the freedom to choose who they are. They are who they’ve proven themselves to be.
The traits that make someone a good soldier aren’t necessarily the same traits that make someone a good civilian in a society run by so-called “beta males.” Harambe was killed for manhandling a small child, but he probably saw that child as a real threat. He was, therefore, killed for being what a lot of veterans perceive themselves to be: an alpha male. While the other two gorillas in the enclosure kept their distance, Harambe stepped up to protect his domain. Then he was gunned down by The Man. Harambe isn’t just a dead gorilla. He’s a martyr.
Harambe the Meme began as a sort of effigy for political correctness, but he’s since evolved, at least in certain circles of the veterans community, into a symbol for American masculinity under siege. “Get your dicks out for Harambe” isn’t just a fun wiener joke for adults with too much time on their hands. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: A call to action for the real men — the alpha males — among us to rise up again, to rattle the cages that society has built around them, to unzip their pants and let every inch of their manhood fly.
KABUL (Reuters) - At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the Islamist group at the weekend.
The surge in hostilities signals deadlock at stop-start peace talks involving U.S and Taliban negotiators in Doha. The Defense Ministry said on Sunday government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in the weekend assaults.
But the Taliban hit back, carrying out attacks on security checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday night in which a security official who declined to be identified said 15 members of the Afghan army were killed.
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.
More problems with Air Force's new tanker could put the squeeze on the Pentagon's refueling capabilities, TRANSCOM chief says
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.