The CIA went for woke in a new recruitment video, featuring a woman who was careful to point out — as she checked off all the right boxes — that she wasn’t just there to check off boxes.
She touted her considerable abilities and accomplishments as she described herself as a mother and a cisgender millennial woman of color, as bilingual and “intersectional.” (RELATED: Tucker Carlson Calls CIA The ‘Cisgender Intersectional Agency’)
Up to that point, I probably would have dismissed the video as merely “silly.” It was clearly an attempt to reach a specific audience — one that places value on “wokeness” and on checking as many of those boxes as possible.
But then the woman mentioned that she had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder — which, in addition to causing difficulty concentrating and persistent worrying, can cause people to perceive situations as threatening even when they are not.
I wondered then whether a better word for it would be “dangerous.”
Five years into my Army career, I went through a second school at what was then Fort Sam Houston, Texas (now it’s part of Joint Base Lackland). On the morning of my annual eye exam, I found myself in line at the vision center behind a young private who was loudly extolling the virtues of “low stress Basic Training.”
I laughed out loud because the concept was not just foreign, but ridiculous on its face. The entire point of those first weeks of training — regardless of the branch of service — is to strip away the learned bad habits and the self-centered and self-serving defaults so that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines can then be trained to function as a unit and work as a team.
“What’s so funny?” the kid asked, and I responded with a question of my own: “What happens when these soldiers leave training and deploy to a high-stress environment?”
The kid didn’t appear to understand what I was getting at, and he continued to argue that low-stress training was good because it would “allow trainees who might have washed out to make it to graduation.”
“What happens when they deploy?” I asked. “Would you rather they have the opportunity to wash out when they’re supposed to be watching your back on a patrol?” (RELATED: KRUTA: Tucker Was Right About The Military, And The Intentional Perversion Of His Point Endangers Americans)
Training must be high stress — because that is how we determine who can perform the necessary tasks in a high stress environment — in combat or under fire. And if trainees cannot perform under high stress, they should not be put in a position where they’ll have to do so.
The same is true of the CIA — where the work that agents do on a daily basis carries the weight of a nation’s security. Placing people who may already be predisposed to anxiety in jobs where stress and pressure are already baked into the cake could pose risks to both the individuals and any projects in which they are involved.
Instead of celebrating an anxiety disorder as just one of many facets that comprise today’s CIA, we should be considerate of those who battle such disorders — but we must also be allowed to question whether certain conditions should be disqualifiers for positions that could impact the safety and security of others.