On Aug. 25 President Trump signed a directive reinstating a previous ban on transgender persons serving in the U.S. military, thereby continuing the perennial debate about the relationship between military service and social policy.
In an interview with the BBC after the president tweeted his intention to reverse Obama policy, then White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said the military “is there to kill people and blow stuff up. They’re not there to be socially-engineered.”
Meanwhile, Ash Carter, who as Barack Obama’s secretary of defense lifted the ban on transgender individuals in 2016, used similar terms to condemn President’s Trump’s tweets: “To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications … is social policy and has no place in our military.”
In fact, as I found while researching the story of African-American soldiers and of immigrant recruits during World War I for my book, “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality,” the armed forces have played a vital role in shaping American social policy toward the country’s minorities. (Honolulu Civil Beat)