U.S. Major General Patrick Donahoe recently found himself in a Twitter debate he couldn’t win, so he tried to get his “opponent” silenced.
Donahoe first became enraged on Twitter after Josiah Lippincott, a Hillsdale College PhD student and former member of the U.S. Marine Corps Artillery, questioned his hysterical attempts to promote the COVID vaccine. Rather than thoughtfully debate Lippincott on the merits of his argument, Donahoe lashed out, going so far as to demand that Lippincott’s academic institution censor his speech. “Hey @Hillsdale come get your boy,” Donahoe whined.
Hey @Hillsdale come get your boy.
— Patrick Donahoe (@PatDonahoeArmy) July 23, 2021
After the Twitter exchange, Lippincott aptly reflected that “[his] interaction with the General serves as a microcosm of the American military’s cultural rot.”
“Here we have a two-star General who spends his days on social media hyping a vaccine for an illness that poses minimal risk to his troops,” Lippincott wrote in his ensuing op-ed. “When pressed on why America can’t win wars and why he embraces policies that treat healthy people like biohazards, his first response is to accuse his critics of treachery and then block them from view.”
As the commanding general of Fort Benning, which straddles the Alabama-Georgia border, Donahoe has repeatedly promoted the COVID therapeutic vaccines via his official Twitter account, but he shirks substantive debate. “[W]e’ve seen a spike in young trainees in the ICU, spike in trainees arriving positive, and it moves quick in the formation,” Donahoe claimed on Twitter. “To get ahead get the shot. Takes five weeks to build the immunity. If you haven’t done so, do it right now. Delta variant aint playing.”
3 weeks ago. Since then we've seen a spike in young trainees in the ICU, spike in trainees arriving positive, and it moves quick in the formation. To get ahead get the shot. Takes five weeks to build the immunity. If you havent done so, do it right now. Delta variant aint playing https://t.co/xtOXNTYuBS
— Patrick Donahoe (@PatDonahoeArmy) July 22, 2021
To the general’s horror, Lippincott pushed back against his fear-mongering. “General, in Q4 of 2020 alone, there were [at least] 26 more suicides than in Q4 2019. There have been 26 Covid deaths TOTAL in the DoD,” Lippincott emphasized. “The lockdowns, liberty restrictions, quarantines, and general disruption of servicemember lives is a way bigger killer than the virus.”
Following such COVID extremism, Lippincott added, “We shouldn’t be surprised by an increase in suicide and psychological problems.”
General, in Q4 of 2020 alone, there were 26 more suicides than in Q4 2019. There have been 26 Covid deaths TOTAL in the DoD.
The lockdowns, liberty restrictions, quarantines, and general disruption of servicemember's lives is a way bigger killer than the virus. pic.twitter.com/NFFGdDtCEu
— Josiah Lippincott (@jlippincott_) July 23, 2021
Suicide is an intentional act. Car accidents are not. When policy treats healthy soldiers as biological hazards we shouldn't be surprised by an increase in suicide and psychological problems.
— Josiah Lippincott (@jlippincott_) July 23, 2021
If the General Prioritized Life, He’d Focus on Suicides
As Lippincott correctly tweeted, the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 cumulative totals show that there have been 26 military deaths from COVID in the last year and a half, out of more than 2 million personnel.
In contrast, “the military recorded 156 deaths by suicide among all services, including active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve troops, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 last year,” meaning that military suicides surged by 25 percent as personnel suffered from draconian COVID lockdowns.
To make matters worse, the DOD’s suicide statistics are preliminary, meaning they’re subject to increase if previously unreported suicides come to attention. So the number of suicides could be even higher than presently documented. Clearly, military deaths by suicide have far exceeded the grand total of military deaths by COVID.
‘Turning Barracks into Prisons’
Lippincott left the service in May 2020 after he witnessed the government’s extreme COVID policies with his own eyes. “Deployed troops returning home were forced to quarantine for weeks at a time. Masks were required in all public spaces on base. Gyms were shut down. Commanding officers dramatically reduced liberty limits to within only a few miles of base,” Lippincott reflected in his op-ed. “Those, like me, who were stationed in Camp Pendleton, were prohibited from traveling just 30 minutes south to San Diego during our off hours.”
“In light of these draconian policies, it is no wonder that troops experienced a surge in psychological illness and suicidal ideation,” he continued. “Turning barracks into prisons is a recipe for problems.” For this reason, Lippincott believes the government’s lockdowns, mandates, and forced isolation contributed greatly to the military’s 2020 suicide rates.
Few service members died from the virus, while the government’s COVID policies are having larger and long-lasting consequences. “[T]he surge in depression and suicide among the young is real,” Lippincott says. And even the DOD admits that it “recognizes the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being of [its] Service members and families.”
Top military leaders agree. “COVID adds stress,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown lamented mid-pandemic. “From a suicide perspective, we are on a path to be as bad as last year,” he said in September. “And that’s not just an Air Force problem, this is a national problem because COVID adds some additional stressors — a fear of the unknown for certain folks.”
Further research shows that adult anxiety and depression have both surged during lockdowns. So while further statistical analysis concerning the causes of military suicides may be lacking, it seems reasonable to assume that COVID policies have had negative consequences.
When Elites Show You Who They Are, Believe Them
Rather than substantively respond to Lippincott’s assertions (or just diplomatically move on), Donahoe called for Hillsdale College to “come get [Lippincott],” presumably to shut him up. He proceeded to block Lippincott’s Twitter account. Not only was this behavior childish and unbecoming of a military leader, but it was also indicative of a disturbing trend.
As a major general, Donahoe is supposed to defend America’s freedoms—not tread on them, in pursuit of elitist goals. But like his partisan colleagues, Donahoe exists in an illiberal bubble that emboldens him to reject alternate viewpoints and flee criticism. Clearly, he feels no duty to converse civilly with those who question his COVID hysteria.
Luckily, Americans are already taking notes. Concerned individuals flocked to social media to challenge Donahoe’s rhetoric, emphasizing that his behavior was as cowardly as it was unprofessional.
When people ask why the U.S. couldn’t win in Afghanistan after 20 years and trillions of dollars, I’m going to stop saying “garbage leadership” and just show them this thread instead.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 26, 2021
General Donahoe is ALARAC 05/2018– PROFESSIONALIZATION OF ONLINE CONDUCT–https://t.co/QvEIgMWPof still revelant guidance for all US Army personnel? Do you feel this interaction reflects the values and professionalism expected of a US Army officer?@TedMartin1775 @PaulFunk2
— Shamir BenAvrim (@benavrim) July 25, 2021
My very high respect for the military just took a massive hit.
— The Original Pigpen. Wilmont Kurtz (@drfeedbacker) July 26, 2021
Yet Donahoe didn’t seem humbled by the exchange. He tweeted a “public service announcement” just a couple of days later, encouraging fellow partisans to “Block and report the trolls and the disinformation tinfoil hat team.” Apparently, Donahoe still wants to silence those who challenge his narrative—and thinks he can get away with it, all while representing the U.S. military to the public.
Public Service Announcement. Block and report the trolls and the disinformation tinfoil hat team.
— Patrick Donahoe (@PatDonahoeArmy) July 25, 2021
Despite Flaws, Twitter Could Be the Antidote We Need
“This is what $693 billion a year buys you: unbridled arrogance from the leaders of a military that can’t win against third world tribesmen armed with small arms and homemade explosives,” Lippincott lamented after his Twitter exchange. “A significant portion of our military leaders, like General Donahoe, are totally detached from reality.” They also shirk accountability, he added.
“Too often, the minds of our great and courageous ‘warriors’ are filled with nothing more than anodyne policy statements, automatic deference to other members of the elite expert class, and received wisdom from the mouths of MSNBC hosts,” Lippincott continued. “Our generals are, far too often, soft, coddled elites and unthinking ideologues.”
Yet, all is not lost, because, “Twitter, for all its many flaws, provides a direct line into the thought process and values of the military’s elite class.” We might not have the power to correct the ways of our corrupt leaders, but we can at least bring their wrongdoings to light.
For as long as we Americans have a window into the “unbridled arrogance” of our leaders, we have an opportunity to expose their resulting failures. It’s time we do so.