Shortly following Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair, ESPN announced that she will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYs. This prompted the claim — which went viral — that the runner up for the award was an army veteran and amputee. As it turns out, that claim is completely false.
The injured soldier meme was repeated in other forms — not without its own self-defeating irony: One viral image of a wounded soldier posted with criticism of the media’s favorable coverage of Jenner was subsequently found to have been taken by a man who was nearly beaten to death for being a “crossdresser.”
This injured soldier meme has been one of the strangest lines of argument in the discussion that has followed Caitlyn Jenner’s public identification as a woman. Conservatives seem to be taken aback that Jenner’s announcement is being called “courageous” for fear that we’ll forget that fighting for your country is also an act of courage. Like most of these kinds of comparisons, they create a false choice.
The idea behind all of these complaints that Jenner is undeserving of her ESPY is that there are two sides: One can either support the LGBT community (presumably by voting for Democrats — which Jenner is not) or the troops through the Republicans. There’s a line in the sand, and we have to choose.
This line does not reflect the reality of the situation.
The reality is that the same folks who support Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to publicly identify herself as a woman are also the folks fighting for our veterans. Democrats supported, and Republicans blocked, this bill, all because then-majority leader Harry Reid wouldn’t allow a vote on an amendment that would have added unrelated sanctions against Iran. Since the Republicans have taken control of the senate, they’ve pushed for this bill, which cuts benefits to 70,000 veterans (President Obama has promised to veto the bill). And then there’s this bill, sponsored by Bernie Sanders and (again) blocked by the GOP, which expands healthcare and education for veterans.
Republicans’ attempts to make life worse for veterans extend beyond Washington, too. Texas’s state senate recently passed this bill, which would no longer allow veterans to pass unused state tuition benefits on to their children.
The list goes on. On bill after bill, Democrats support helping veterans and Republicans oppose it.
This being the case, it appears as though the choice is not whether you support the LGBT community or the veterans (a particularly ridiculous suggestion since many veterans are LGBT). The choice is whether you support the LGBT community and the veterans or, like the Republicans, you support neither.
This seems like an easy choice to me.