Ted Cruz under fire for comparing "woke, emasculated" Army ad to Russian military spot

A full-blown culture war is raging on Twitter this afternoon over his take on this side-by-side comparison. You’ll recognize the U.S. Army ad at the end of it. I wrote about it last week.

Cruz dunked on it not once but twice last night…

…and has been getting savaged by liberals since:

Most of the criticism takes the form of snarking on him for daring to call anyone else “emasculated” after Trump insulted his wife during the 2016 primary, only to have Cruz turn around and become a loyal servant. But some military members are hitting him on more substantive grounds. “My frustration lies here: The origin story of any young, white male is called the American Dream. Why does it become ‘woke’ when that story doesn’t quite fit the narrative?” said one woman officer to Military.com. Another slammed him for “the idea that the very presence of women and gays is a threat to the ‘masculinity’ of the military. … And then people wonder why women are sexually harassed, abused or killed by their fellow service members.”

Another point of criticism is whether the Russian part of the clip above is a true recruitment ad or military propaganda which Cruz is helping to propagate:

Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow for the U.K.-based Center for Analysis of the Radical Right, told The Washington Post that the video surfaced on Twitter when a Dutch user who frequently posts far-right content shared it. A real estate agent from Dallas shared the video from the Dutch user’s post, and Cruz retweeted her.

But Ross said he had been tracking versions of the video on extremist Telegram channels earlier this week. He said the clip popped up repeatedly in channels that promote fascist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

“Ted Cruz is obviously sharing this video that I’ve seen bouncing around some of the most violent and anti-American Telegram accounts that I monitor,” he said. “It just struck me as odd.”

I didn’t take Cruz to be saying that simply having women and gays in the ranks was emasculating, although I doubt he’d mind if his fan base took his comments that way. I took him to mean that running Disney-style cartoons of weddings as part of the military’s recruitment effort is deeply cringy and “soft” relative to the sort of bad-ass warrior imagery that traditionally attracts men to the service. (Turns out enough viewers on YouTube felt similarly that the Army had to shut off comments to the video.) Two points, though. One, made last night by someone on Twitter, is that not every role that needs filling in the Army is a combat role. If you want to reach people who might not naturally consider a career in the military because of their background, it helps to show them that other people with non-traditional backgrounds are serving in support roles. The Marines can still do the bad-ass dragon-slayer promos.

Second, the Army has other ads, of course. Here’s one from the Rangers that’s less than two years old aimed at the same sort of person who might be wooed by that Russian clip. These guys don’t seem emasculated. I share Cruz’s bafflement at the “Disney gay wedding” one, but I don’t know why he’s reaching to blame Democrats and the media for that instead of the ad agency that developed it and the Pentagon brass that approved it. Clearly someone in the chain of command had reason to think that it might access an untapped market for personnel. If Cruz doesn’t want certain types of people in the service, he should say so and be specific.