The thoughts I’m about to share turned up in my Facebook memories from eight years ago today. I debated about sharing them here, and nearly came down on the side of not doing so. Yet, I have spent the last hour or so coming back to those paragraphs. So, here we are.
I was just thinking about, of all things, moral cowardice. On my last DoD job, I had a severe bully boss. If you were one of her sycophants, you could get away with anything — including sexual harassment (I have written before about how I got a letter of reprimand for telling the guy who was harassing me to get the fuck away from me … and how, when that guy left the unit, the JAG officer brought the unit copy of that letter to me, tore it up in front of me, and said “This bullshit never happened). She tolerated a guy being drunk on duty *every single drill weekend.* She gave people points for drill in exchange for doing her favors.
When the unit was having a change of command on a Navy base, she said “And we are inviting the media.” I asked whether they had contacted the Public Affairs office on that base to arrange for media credentialing … Public Affairs, after all, was how I made my living until the DoD sent me to that unit through its “Priority Placement Program.”
“We are the Army; we don’t have to get the Navy’s permission,” was her reply.
Needless to say, the media were escorted off the Navy base by the MPs since they were not credentialed … but that’s a digression.
This is the woman who, when my physician pulled me off work for three weeks on the heels of a full-on nervous breakdown, told me it was “selfish” of me to take that leave and that I needed to “learn to put the unit first instead of ” my “little personal problems.”
I could write an entire book on the stuff that happened on that job.
And what does this have to do with moral cowardice? There were people who witnessed what she did to me and who flat-out refused to testify when I filed a complaint. “It could be the end of my career. I’m sure you understand.”
But there were two people … both from subordinate units, who came and testified. One of them was someone I had only met twice … but he was willing to talk about what he’d seen.
The people who were there every day to witness the abuse wouldn’t say a word on the record … because they were too afraid of this bully boss, frankly. And that’s unfortunate. Speaking out against wrong-doing shouldn’t be dependent upon what might happen to you for speaking up, if you ask me.
Standing up for the downtrodden is important. Period.