In a democracy, military reflects the society from which it recruits
Re: “Islamophobes are also suffering from short memories”, Have Your Say, yesterday.
Ian Martin rightly challenges Nigel Pike’s objection to Muslims being recruited into the British armed forces with some well-chosen historical references. Muslim soldiers in West African colonial regiments also fought valiantly in the Arakan campaign in Burma in 1943 and 1944. Mr Pike also takes a dim view of homosexuals in the forces. However this is not a new trend. They have always been there, but until recent times they had to be discreet about their sexual orientation. There is no evidence, as far as I am aware, that being homosexual makes one a less effective soldier, sailor or airman.
The incident when British trainee soldiers stopped for a “photo opportunity” with Tommy Robinson was unfortunate and probably reflected the inexperience and naivety of these young lads. The British armed forces are strictly non-political, and Robinson, like him or loathe him, is a prominent figure who espouses controversial political opinions.
There is sometimes an element of truth in Mr Pike’s observations, but he just goes too far. Society and social attitudes are changing rapidly, not always for the better, in my opinion, and not just in Britain. But however much Mr Pike might rage against this from his remote tropical hideaway, he is wasting his time and energy. In a democracy, the armed forces will inevitably reflect the society from which they recruit, at least as far as “good order and military discipline” will permit. In Britain that fine line seems to be holding reasonably well.