A proposal to ban the US military from using gaming platforms for recruitment purposes, which was promoted by the Democratic Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez failed on Thursday, with 103 House Democrats joining Republicans to vote done the plan, which was eventually rejected 292-126.
Democratic Rep. Max Rose, an Afghanistan War veteran, later told the New York Post that he found the proposal “insulting”, as it “perpetuates the limousine liberal trope that soldiers are idiots who only get duped into enlisting”.
“That very disparagement follows veterans when they come home and struggle to find employment”, he added. “This amendment treats the military as some insidious organization, not a career choice that taught me — and millions of others — invaluable skills and an appreciation for the values and freedoms of our country”.
He was echoed by another Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky, who said that Americans should actually be encouraged to serve in the military.
Ocasio-Cortez proposed the ban this week, telling The New York Times that “whether through recruitment stations in their lunchrooms, or now through e-sports teams, children in low-income communities are persistently targeted for enlistment”.
“In many public high schools where military recruiters have a daily presence, there is not even a counsellor. As a result, the military stops feeling like a ‘choice’ and starts feeling like the only option for many young, low-income Americans”, said the congresswoman, known to many by her AOC initials.
The US Army actually been quite active on the Twitch streaming service in the last couple of years, reportedly investing nearly $1 million in its gaming-and-outreaching efforts. However, activity on the Army’s Twitch channel, which was widely used by the military’s esports team for online gaming streams, has now been paused.
The move followed a backlash from First Amendment rights campaigners, after the channel’s moderators banned a number of users, who were posing questions about war crimes allegedly committed by the American military, including those related to airstrikes in Afghanistan and massacre in a Vietnamese village. The Army defended the banning of users as “anti-harassment” measures, but activists from the Knight First Amendment Institute described the military’s actions as a potential breach of freedom of speech. Shortly afterwards, activity on the US Army esports team’s Twitch channel was halted.