Ted Cruz, the junior US Senator from Texas and presidential hopeful, has previously expressed his belief that "political correctness is killing people." Taking his view to the next logical step, Cruz is now equating political correctness with providing gluten-free meals to the military.
In a speech he gave this week aboard the USS Yorktown, which was stationed near Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Cruz lashed out and said this: "The last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments—or providing gluten-free MREs." He was referring, of course, to the self-contained, individual field rations used in the military known as Meal, Ready-to-Eat.
He also coined a term that is new to us—"plush-bottomed bureaucrats"—one that we certainly hope takes off this political cycle.
Cruz is touring the State of South Carolina, trying to appeal to hard-line military voters in anticipation of Saturday's Republican primary. Invoking the name of the 40th president, Cruz said, "I am confident that if we put in the hard work we can, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, rebuild our military so it will be so feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies that, God willing, we won't have to use it. That is the essence of what President Reagan used to call 'peace through strength.'"
What exactly not providing gluten-free meals to military personnel has to do with rebuilding our military, Cruz never explained.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, about 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that makes those who suffer from it seriously ill if they eat gluten. A spokesman for the Department of Defense told Time that the provision of gluten-free meals in the military differs based on the particular military branch.
Requiring a gluten-free meal in war-torn spots like Afghanistan is no joke, as Captain B. Donald Andrasik, a national guardsman, can attest. Back in 2012, he put together a support group of military personnel based in Kandahar Airfield who are gluten-intolerant and gluten-sensitive. The 12 afflicted personnel made it clear that they were pretty much on their own when it came to their diet. Not one of them had told their chain of command or the Army about their special dietary needs.
"Being gluten-free can be a dicey prospect for a soldier," said one. These Kandahar soldiers found that the army, at least in Kandahar in 2012, did not specify which foods were gluten-free.
And now we know that if Ted Cruz is our next president, there may be a number of military personnel suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, nasal congestion, and difficulty breathing, all because their dietary needs are a little too PC for the man in charge.