Source: San Diego Union-Tribune. 11 March 1998, p. B-1.
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — When a top Army official told a House subcommittee about efforts to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the military, Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham called the efforts “B.S.” and asserted that “our kids don’t like . . . political correctness.”
The Escondido Republican also insisted that some members of Congress promote communism openly and that France has a Communist government.
An aide explained that Cunningham wanted to point out “what the Army’s priorities should be with the limited resources we have.”
Beyond that, press secretary Lori Gulakowski said, “the congressman doesn’t have any additional comments on his comments.”
The remarks came during a Feb. 26 meeting of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, on which Cunningham sits. During a hearing on the Army’s budget, acting Army Secretary Robert Walker discussed his commitment to equality in the armed forces.
“Every soldier is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, without regard to that soldier’s gender or race,” Walker said in a written statement ot the subcommittee that he underscored with comparable remarks. “The Army continues to work hard to reduce sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and sexual misconduct.”
Sexual misconduct and discrimination have been sore topics in the military. The Navy’s sexual harassment scandal at the Las Vegas Tailhook convention was followed by accusations that the Army’s top sergeant was sexually harassing subordinates and that drill sergeants were preying on female trainees.
In a massive internal study released in September, the Army found that one in five Army women believe that they have suffered harassment. It also found that more than half think that their military careers have been stymied because of their sex.
In response, the Army added extra basic-training courses to instill more respect for women. Its “action plan” includes stationing officers and chaplains at training bases to monitor troops and having high-level officers oversee training improvements.
During a lengthy response to Walker’s presentation, Cunningham talked of the military’s need for updated equipment while dismissing Walker’s reference to human-relations training.
“I look at your statements here as far as what you need, and then I see gender training and political correct training,” said Cunningham, according to a transcript of the hearing. ”Well, B.S., Mr. Secretary. When we have a limited force like this, and I’ve supported women in combat, but we cannot accept or tolerate anything less than superlative.”
“Our kids don’t like that. They don’t like the political correctness.”
Walker assured Cunningham that the Army does “not make decisions based on political correctness.”
Cunningham then complained that military procurement must be a budget priority if the nation is to remain a democracy.
“We’re trying to put this country’s fiscal responsibility back on track so that your kids and my kids aren’t going to fall under a socialist, Communist regime which some of the members . . . in this body want that form of model for this government,” Cunningham said, apparently referring to Congress.
“They will tell you openly that they’re both Communist supporters and socialist supporters. If you look at France, one in four works for the government. What do they have? They have a Communist and socialistic model of government.”
The French constitution is based on the principles of Western democracy. French voters elect the president of the republic, members of the two national legislative assemblies and members of local assemblies.
Cunningham also appealed for more money for military veterans, saying they “have got a priority over somebody that sits in a ghetto, that sits on their rear end and only wants money from the government.”
Copyright © 1998
Union-Tribune Publishing Co.