Monday, March 22, 2021

Soldiers Understand "Our" Political Elites And Their Masters Aren't Good Stewards Of Society

military  |  Those conducting the sessions wanted "to make sure that military members understand the difference between Seattle and [the Jan. 6 riot in] Washington, D.C.," Colón-López said. "But some of our younger members are confused about this, so that's what we need to go ahead and talk to them about and educate them on, to make sure that they know exactly what they can and cannot do."

Colón-López also noted the military was called to respond after the Capitol attacks, but was not called up to support law enforcement during the Seattle protests.

And he drew a distinction between those who lawfully exercised their First Amendment rights to protest during last summer's protests in support of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, and those who "latched on" to the protests to loot, destroy property and commit other crimes.

But sometimes, he said, younger troops see messages on TV that blur the lines between the two, and "we needed to educate them" on the difference.

"No, that's not what that meant," Colón-López said. "There were people advocating [against] social injustice, racial injustice and everything else, and it is the right of citizens."

When asked about networks or television personalities popular among service members who have drawn those equivalencies, Colón-López said, "Those are very, very tough conversations to have with people, because sometimes they're emotional about the subject."

While those TV personalities are exercising the right to free speech troops have fought for, he said, "make sure that you're well-educated and don't be an automatic mouthpiece for something unless you understand the issue."

Colón-López acknowledged that the "information overload" troops today face -- not just traditional media and memos from service leaders, but also a panoply of social media amplifying different messages -- can leave troops feeling confused and uncertain where to go to get reliable information.

"What I am committed to is to make sure that our people understand right from wrong," he said. "That our people ... are well-educated to be able to carry on, in an honorable fashion. And if they hear somebody saying the wrong things, that they're quick to go ahead and correct them ... without being confrontational."

Colón-López stressed the refrain commonly heard from top military leaders that the vast majority of troops do not share extremist views.

And the military isn't interested in monitoring troops' online activities at home, he said. A service member who Googles QAnon, for example, may just want to become educated on the online conspiracy theory movement, he explained. That wouldn't mean someone necessarily believes in that ideology.

But, he noted, the military needs to be watchful of how service members carry themselves while on duty, and what troops' friends say they are doing.