Yesterday was remembrance Sunday in the UK, as always it falls nearest the the 11th of November. I am sure people know, but the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month was the time at which “the Great War” ended. For over 100 years in countries around the world the day has been marked, and a silence to remember the dead observed. In the UK in recent years when the 11th falls on a day other than Remembrance Sunday, there is still usually a smaller service of remembrance at 11am.
This year on the 11th day, a peace march, calling for a cease-fire in the war in Israel, was planned. People tried to ban the march. Please note that remembrance Sunday was on the 12th, not the 11th. The peace march was starting at midday, and its route avoided the areas associated with remembrance.
The right wing UK Home Secretary sent out a dog whistle to her far right friends by publicly denouncing the police for not banning the march. Citing our veterans and service men and women deserve respect.
In the end over 100 arrests were made on the day of the March, almost all of them were right wing “counter marchers” and most of the arrests were for violence related offences.
So what did I do?
Last week, a few days before Remembrance events, on the Scholar.Social Mastodon Instance I posted
I am a veteran.
I observe silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month.
I also support the peace march on 11th November; and I denounce violence from all sides.
But most of all I condemn govt ministers exploiting my service for political gain.
It got likes, it got boosts, it led to a long conversation with a Canadian Colleague, that led to some synergy around my work on AI and my work in Edtech.
And then on Remembrance Sunday I received the following from the Instance Owner.
You can no longer use your account, and your profile and other data are no longer accessible. You can still login to request a backup of your data until the data is fully removed in about 30 days, but we will retain some basic data to prevent you from evading the suspension.
Military and law enforcement are not welcome on Scholar; you should have seen this when you signed up
Not talking about military issues; but being of the military. In my case ex military. I served in the 80’s, over 30 years ago. This was why my account was suspended.
Veterans, Higher Education and Scholarship.
The GI Bill was known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, it applies to US servicemen. Initially it was supposed to provide various benefits to World War II veterans but it has changed a lot over the years. From my perspective its most significant feature is the provision of funding for education and training, millions of veterans have been able to attend college, undergo vocational training, or receive education in other forms. It democratized higher education in the U.S for those who served.
In the UK we do not have a GI bill. For many who served Higher Education is out of reach. Both financially, and culturally. When I first started in my role at Jisc I was visiting projects in universities all around the UK. I have rarely spoken of one incident; at a prestigious university I was visiting a research group about a huge multi-million pound project that I was overseeing. For lunch we visited the staff restaurant, and as we were entering the lead on the project turned and stopped us all and said “We need to go somewhere else, there is a lot of campus security in there and I don’t want to sit around in the company of ex military types.”
Culturally, that institution viewed us ex military in a very different way to themselves, and they did not view their security guards as being part of the institution.
I suppose if I were to try and justify my presence in the world of higher education I could talk about the ethical and moral value I could contribute. Military experience often involves complex ethical dilemmas, and veterans can contribute significantly to discussions on ethics, morality, and the law, especially in contexts related to war, peacekeeping, and the use of force. Rather than dense theoretical discussions we can provide concrete examples for ethical debates, we add depth, and stark reality to academic discussions.
I could if I wanted point out that in some ways diversity and inclusivity are much greater, sure academics will point out ways in which the military are not, but most of us are from backgrounds who are working class, living in poverty, I served with Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, I served with people of Caribbean and African descent, of Indian descent, people from around the world.
And if I wanted to make a case I could say that I know what public service is, and what it costs.
I could say these things to justify my presence.
That’s the thing isn’t it. Belonging. Community. Family in some cases. My background, in their view, taints the community. Because no matter what, all military are the same.
And I want to make it clear.
I wasn’t banned because I was saying something, I wasn’t banned for trolling or doxing or bullying.
The post that outed me was a call for peace, for tolerance. I denounced violence.
But in doing so I gave away my identity. I had served.
And the military is not welcome here.
Mastodon is federated, run by individuals for the purposes of their community. I joined Scholar.Social because there were many others of my community there. The fact that someone pointed out I was ex military and did not belong there, even though I am also a scholar, has tainted that community for me now. So even though I have appealed their decision to ban me, if I win the appeal I will be deleting my account. Why? Because I am not their fucking monkey, and I don’t dance to their petty-minded prejudiced tunes.