Don't Draft Mike Lee | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Don't Draft Mike Lee 

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The Bingham Canyon of my youth was a rough and bawdy town. I grew up around lots of tough old miners and tough old drunks. To boot, a good portion of them were men. I shouldn't tease with the notion that some in our town were drunk women; that's just an old myth that men and women in mining camps of yore spent the better part of every day in the local saloon. But sure as my knitting needle also functions as a deadly weapon, the women of Bingham Canyon were indeed tough.

They were tough teachers and coaches. They were tough cooks. They were tough bank tellers. They were tough small business operators. They were tough mothers and grandmothers. During World War II, they were also tough miners, pressed into service when the ranks depleted the canyon of so many young men who marched to war against the dual threats of imperialism and fascism. In any real community, there are no questions asked if Gender A or Gender B is more qualified or capable to perform any given task.

A bare exception to that might be if carrying a great deal of weight is the measure of one's capabilities. I don't think so. When I worked in the mine, there were men who you could blow over with a feather. But that didn't stop them. They simply made an extra trip or helped someone else on a task, and it was no big deal. I worked with people so strong you were just astonished at what they heaved and ho'ed. I worked with others who were weak but still part of the "gang" and just as valuable, especially as they were often the smarter ones. As a result, I'm usually quick to assess if someone is capable of beating the crap out of me before any battle begins, or if they've figured out a way to topple a guy like me before I realize I've been toppled.

I think I know a tough guy when I see one. Thus, I don't see a tough guy in our entire collage of Utah senators and members of the House of Representatives. Not Burgess Owens—despite his NFL cred, he's a cheap suit today. Not Chris Stewart—despite his 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, where, it seems, he mostly learned to take orders. Mitt, Curtis, that new guy up north? Nope. Nor especially, Mike Lee. He's a guy I'd never trust with any kind of trouble. He's as likely to stab you as your opponent. He's the guy who gets other guys hurt. He's also the guy who doesn't mind guys kicking his ass. But women? Lee's the guy who says he supports women but is actually afraid of them.

Lee recently opposed drafting women into the U.S. military, fearfully telling the Salt Lake Tribune they "shouldn't be forced to fight" and somehow conflating that all draftees move to the front lines of conflict. I know too many guys who were drafted and sent to Vietnam who never sniffed a battle zone to know that's a canard. Lee fears women have disadvantages "that result in excessive fatigue and unforced injuries." But women are not diminishing our armed forces—they've strengthened our military. As it always is with Lee, though, he brings his rationale home with a plea to his core values—saving his ass.

He said: "As the father of a teenage daughter, as a husband and as a Christian, I'm going to say this as politely as possible, 'This is completely unacceptable.'" What's being a Christian got to do with serving one's country? Currently 16% of our enlisted military are women, comprised of all religions and creeds. Women are capable at all levels. They are mothers, sisters and daughters—cadets, officers and foot soldiers—who are willing to do more for our country in just two years than servile men like Lee ever will.

It's Lee who can't do it. And won't. Stand down, Mike.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

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