After 9/11, amid things like the Patriot Act and the new “War on Terror”, there came a bill that really caught my attention as a teenage Quaker – the Universal Military Service and Training Act of 2001. This was a proposed law that never made it to Bush’s desk (thankfully), that would have required all male citizens of age to enlist for basic training (including Pentagon-approved history lessons) and a term of service. The authors of the bill very kindly provided for contentious objectors to opt out of weapons training and direct combat roles. Needless to say, this freaked me out. I think it freaked out a lot of people, and I feel quite certain that if conditions allow, the idea will come up again.
So that’s something to look forward to…
Another way in which conservatives are trying to create the society in Starship Troopers is proposing that all teachers be armed. As usual, Beau of the Fifth Column has some words worth hearing on the subject, and on what that might actually look like.
This is not a solution. The problem is, that’s not going to stop conservatives from trying it. If you haven’t realized by now that reality is no barrier to the laws they want to make, then I’m afraid you’re very behind on your political education. The fact that they’re happy to legislate based on how they think reality ought to work, makes me think we need to consider that they’ll keep pushing for armed teachers until they get armed teachers. And if it comes to that, the scenario Beau discusses isn’t the only way that could go. There’s another possibility for what this could look like, and it’s a very, very grim one:
They could start requiring that all teachers either be veterans, or have completed basic training, or some other government-sanctioned combat training program.
At the end of the day, conservatives – and that’s not a category limited to Republicans – want to control things. They want hierarchies, and they want those hierarchies to be enforced. The tools they use for this – police, debt, redlining, etc. – are varied and sometimes fairly subtle, but they all seem to aim at creating a populace that will do as they’re told, and won’t rock the boat. It seems to me that this push to arm teachers may be closer than we realize to requiring teachers to undergo formal military training.
Do I need to make the case for why that would be a bad thing? Do I need to explain who would be most hurt by this path?
It’s the first bit that sums up why this will never happen. No cop, anywhere, is trained to be effective in the situation described. The vast, overwhelming majority of fully-qualified military personnel are NEVER offered the training they’d need to be effective in the situation described. Of the armed forces, a very, very small, EXTREMELY selective minority are trained to operate in these sorts of situations. Think the SAS storming the Iranian embassy in London, killing every single terrorist there but one, and keeping all the hostages alive. THAT is the scenario – close-quarters, armed opponent(s), many, many non-combatants. It can be done – by men who have passed the most rigorous selection processes in the world, and trained and trained and trained and trained. The number of people in the WHOLE USA who’d even be capable, physically and psychologically, of passing the selection process you’d need to apply to achieve that probably numbers in the low three figures. They’d not all be motivated to be teachers, especially given the salary and conditions on offer compared to other shit they’d be able to do with that level of training (just e.g. from something someone I used to hang around with does for a living now he’s not in the SAS any more – close protection security for the family of a billionaire. Deal includes generous salary, lots of first class air travel, expenses paid trips to places like Gstaad in winter and private island resorts in summer – I can’t see this guy trading that in for a stint in front of 30 kids).
So just possibly you might be able to get enough staff together in the whole USA to cover one school. Good luck…
Another point: it’s possible, in principle, to cost that training, because it is out there. People ARE getting it, usually at taxpayer expense. My aforementioned buddy has been on private courses since demobbing. It costs more than a teacher’s salary for a week of that stuff. I applaud the gun lobby’s commitment to finding all that money… /s
Abe Drayton says
The thing is, they don’t actually care about whether it works. From what I can tell, they’ll happily do useless shit that gets people used to jumping through hoops just to live. Think taking your shoe off at the airport, and going through a machine that creates an image of your body under your clothes.
That’s what worries me more than the fact that if they push this till someone tries it, it will fail.
It’s what will be done in the name of stopping school shootings, like what was done (surveillance, war, etc.) in the name of “fighting terror”.
Sounds like a great idea, though. Let’s take these underpaid, overworked people, who have to spend their entire day dealing with coddled children and entitled parents, and then let’s give them military training and government-issued weapons. What could possibly go wrong?
Abe Drayton says
I mean – once teachers become conservative indoctrinators, they’ll probably start treating them better.
“Service guarantees citizenship”