I was disheartened by the mob mentality I watched unfold when a new and young Army Wife published a post that demonstrated her youth, her frustration, and her ignorance of the world she had only recently entered. The charge was led by a Colonel's wife, who is connected to a Non-Profit, and to much of the MilBlog community. She used her influence to call for what amounted to a very public internet lynching and to pressure the young NCO's chain of command.
This is not to say that the young wife was correct in her statements or conclusions, but watching it unfold was like watching a sitcom of the popular High School girls going after the new girl in the school. The young wife must have been online when the pack attacked, because she turned off comments before the angry abuse hit 20. The Colonel's wife was already crying foul that she didn't get her lashes in on the young lady, even as she deleted my comments condemning the behavior. She has since deleted her accusation on the WOTN wall that alleged I had attacked her personally, rather than recognizing that it was her actions I had condemned.
To clarify the realities behind the emotional attacks: There is a difference between Active Duty Soldiers, and Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers. They are all Soldiers, and I served in all 3 types of the Army. The sacrifices are different. None are a cakewalk. But there are differences, just as there are differences in the way men and women think, the way Mexicans and Brits look, and the way C130 and F15 pilots fly. Noting these differences for what they are is no more wrong than describing a criminal on the run for his race. Pretending they don't exist is political correct BS that creates one-size-fits all plans that fit no one. And it creates the frustration the young Army Wife was attempting to clarify.
And the jackal attack that followed creates the reluctance of Troops in introducing their wives to organizations that might exhibit the behavior. As some MilBloggers are asking why fewer are entering the world of public discourse, the attacks, which resulted in her Army husband being called on the carpet by a Senior Officer in his command, demonstrate the perils of Troops considering the telling of their stories. Yes, that NCO publicly defended his wife's right to expression, but he was not the one that wrote the offensive blogpost. He was however the one that suffered the repercussions and is licking his own wounds, along with his ostracized wife.
In situations like this, maternal figures in my life would have retorted to those that attacked with: "Well, I hope you are happy with yourselves."
So, what should have happened? Those elder, popular wives should have dropped the New, Young Army wife an email that recognized the woman's frustration, but pointed out the errors. National Guard Soldiers do wear a tape that says "US Army" because they are Soldiers. There are no such things as "Company" patches, but the unit patches worn by the Vermont National Guard are only as different from the Recruiting Command patch as are the 82nd Airborne patch is from the Recruiting Command patch.
Yes, that Recruiter served elsewhere, before he served as a Recruiter, and he'll serve somewhere else in the future, if he stays in. His war stories are different than those of the Soldiers of the Vermont National Guard. They served in different places, with different people, at different times. There is a difference between coming back and preparing your rucksack and dufflebags for 3 weeks in the field, or preparing your resume to go out looking for a job in a down economy. Yes, Active Duty Troops deploy more often than Reserve Component.
But being the wife of a National Guard Colonel does not excuse you from acting with the same grace, experience, and respect expected of an Officer's wife on Active Duty. Having a dedicated Facebook following does not afford you the right to treat a young wife, fresh into her life as the Primary Supporter of ONE Soldier in such an aggressive manner. If you believe that the young wife's actions reflect on a young NCO, imagine how much more a very public Colonel's wife's actions reflect on him. Should he be reported to the TAG, and reprimanded to the TAG for YOUR words?
Why did I get involved? After all, it wasn't my business? Condemning the actions of the popular girl isn't going to win me more friends, and may even cause her fans to quit reading. I spoke my mind because what was happening was wrong, regardless of how errant the young lady's words were. It is easy to cheer on the crowd. It is easy to be silent when you know the crowd will disagree. It isn't the right thing to do, to sit on the sidelines, when you witness a mob of your "friends," ganging up on the new girl.
What I won't do is send a pack of readers to attack those involved. No, I don't believe the primary individuals involved understand why their actions were wrong, nor that they can be convinced of it. And while I do believe the young woman might have been able to understand where her errors were wrong, I doubt this experience will change her distaste any time soon. Unfortunately, what is done, is done. I can only hope that those that joined the lynching will think twice before joining the mob, should a similiar situation present itself, in the future.