The heinous crime that was perpetrated against a 12-year-old girl by three American marines on Okinawa has harmed many people: the young girl and her family; the three men, whose lives will be blighted by the consequences of their crime; the reputation of the American forces overseas; Japanese-American relations; and indeed the American people.

But what is the most painful consequence of this event for our country? It is the abrupt departure of a distinguished naval commander, whose only association with the event consisted of a few truthful if tactless words spoken after he had already condemned the rape. Admiral Richard C. Macke, commander of United States forces in the Pacific, was forcibly retired by our senior civilian warlord, William Perry. Was Admiral Macke in any way involved in the offense? Could he be accused, like his unfortunate fellow admiral Frank Kelso, of having hampered an investigation or attempted to sweep offenses under a rug? No, he could not. Like Admiral Kelso, but unlike Messrs. Perry and Clinton, Macke has a distinguished career in the Armed Services. But that did him no good: no amount of distinction or service to the nation can compensate for transgression against the commandments of political correctness and sensitivity.

Actually, Admiral Kelso’s “offense,” if offense it was, was protracted over a period of months, in that he did not proceed with the utmost rigor against the simply scandalous events at the notorious Tailhook convention. Admiral Kelso might conceivably have been able to redeem himself during the early days of the scandal had he begun to intervene with vigor against the rowdy miscreants of Tailhook. Times have changed; conditions have become more stringent. Admiral Macke had only a few hours before committing his own atrocious offense, before the ever-so-sensitive Defense Secretary William Perry demanded his resignation, for the offense was committed on the morning of Friday, November 17, and Admiral Macke was out by late afternoon. Mr. Perry said, “We decided that his lapse in judgment was so serious that he would be unable to perform effectively his duties as Commander-in-Chief of LIS. Forces in the Pacific.” It appears from the context that Mr. Perry’s “we” included the admiral. Apparently Admiral Macke was induced to agree in his own condemnation, a procedure familiar from the history of the Inquisition and communist show trials; it was known in the old Soviet days as “self-criticism.”

Such speechcrime is too much for sensitive souls to bear. “Loose lips sink ships,” American posters warned during World War II. Feind hört mit, “The enemy is listening too,” the corresponding German posters read. It seems that whenever a high military official opens his mouth, he must beware of the Feind who hört mit, only the enemy of our high officers is not someone in the spy service of another country, but American reporters and high American officials. Secretary Perry’s sensitivity was matched by that of our equally sensitive if unmilitary President, for Mr. Clinton quickly rallied to the support not of his insensitive admiral, but to that of his valiant Secretary of Defense.

A Chicago Tribune headline read, “Admiral loses post in wake of rape.” One might suppose that the admiral was involved in the offense, were it not for the subhead, “Pacific chief criticized for comment on case.” Criticism is a mild word indeed for action that deprives a man of the career and honors for which he had faithfully served and labored for more than three decades. Exactly what was the offense in the admiral’s comment, “For the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl”? The ever vigilant feminist, Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (Democrat-CO), perhaps still savoring the memory of her successful attacks on Admiral Kelso, called it “the biggest outrage I’ve seen in a while.” (That’s a comforting thought, in a way.) According to the New York Times, Congresswoman Schroeder faulted the admiral for thinking that “Boys will be boys, the view that women arc just commodities.” Did the admiral say any such thing? Does Miss Schroeder know what he thinks about women? What he said was truthful; it was necessary to condemn him, to jump to the conclusion that the admiral was not merely noting that in this fallen world, some women present themselves as commodities, whether of their own will or because they are pressured by exploiters into doing so. No one asked whether the admiral thinks that they ought to be treated as such. It was only one little “bite,” but it bit. The mere statement of what is in fact a truth, although a deplorable one, gave the obsequious Mr. Perry the opportunity to humble another meritorious military leader. Does Admiral Macke deplore the type of world that causes prostitutes to surround military bases? We would not know. It’s not important. What was important was the bite.

Under such circumstances, when the pique of a certain elite can destroy the work of a man’s entire life, what kind of man will aspire to rise through the ranks of the armed service in the future? Only the kind of man who is prudent enough, or delicately sensitive enough to avoid violating even the least commandment of the Tables of the Law of Political Correctness, can have any hope of reaching a high post, or of staying in it if he should reach it. The late Bertrand de Jouvenel, in his incisive work On Power, indicates that the future of Western democracies will be domination by effeminate totalitarians.

Is there not one man in government who is willing to say, “Enough of this nonsense!”? Evidently not. The highest officials will not, and their subordinates dare not, as the fate of Admiral Kelso and now Macke reveals. The problem lies less with vindictive and tyrannical feminism of the sort exemplified by Congresswoman Schroeder than with the supine pusillanimity, effeminate supersensibility, and total lack of human realism and ordinary common sense illustrated by leaders whose concept of leadership seems limited to a determination to float with the politically correct tide.