Wounded Warrior Takes on Chelsea Manning, Lady Gaga to Defend Trump’s Transgender Ban

By Craig Bannister | July 27, 2017 | 4:43pm EDT
J.R. Salzman
(Photo via Twitter)

When a U.S. veteran who lost an arm serving in Iraq took on celebrities and media to voice his support of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military Wednesday, he set off a social media firestorm.

It began when J.R. Salzman (@JRSalzman), who was injured in 2006 during an enemy attack while serving in the U.S. Infantry, retweeted a post mocking the liberal media’s outrage and overreaction to Trump’s announcement:

“Today you'll see how out of touch the media is. No transgenders in the military is an obvious thing. They'll treat it like Jim Crow laws.”

Then, when NBC News posted a Tweet about Trump’s ban, Salzman, replied:

“And suddenly thousands of people who never served a day in the military will become experts.”

But, things really heated up when took on Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier convicted of giving classified government materials to WikiLeaks whose prison sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.

When Manning complained in a tweet that the U.S. military has money for the F-35 fighter plane, but not for a “few” transgender servicemen, Salzman retweeted a mocking reply:

“The F-35 doesn't think it's a tank.”

Then, when Manning accused a supporter of the ban of wanting to jail all transgenders, Salzman replied that “Just because you got pardoned doesn't mean you're innocent,” adding that “The rest of us did our jobs and served with honor.”

That’s when the Twitter back-and-forth began. After declaring that “Nothing pisses off troops more than individuality and special treatment,” Salzman began responding to hostile posts by describing the high-stress, tension-filled environment in which U.S. military serve – and concluding that was no place for mentally ill or “confused” people:

  • “Now take someone confused about whether they are a man/woman. Take those psychological and emotional issues and put them in that environment.”
  • “Take someone who is right off the bat not uniform or part of the same team. Give them special treatment because of their identity.”
  • “Take that person, put them in that stressful war environment and watch what happens. It's a f**king ticking time bomb.”
  • “We had guys who couldn't (hack it). When faced with combat situations they crumbled. They had mental and emotional issues. They were a liability.”
  • “War is no place for people who are mentally, emotionally, or physically confused or in turmoil.”

Then, when pop singer Lady Gaga Tweeted to President Trump that 45% of the transgender people he had banned were already suicidal, Salzman retweeted Gaga’s post - saying that she was actually making his point for him:

“I didn't foresee Lady Gaga validating what I said about transgenders in the military, but there it is.”


Over the next two hours, Salzman was overwhelmed with media requests and comments – and gained five thousand new Twitter followers. He tweeted that he wasn’t looking for fame, and that he had nothing against anyone, but was simply voicing his belief that military service is “not a social experiment”:

  • “For the record, I suddenly have thousands of notifications. If you sent me a tweet looking for a response you're not going to get it. Sorry.”
  • “I'm being bombarded with media requests. Here's the deal. I'm not doing them. I'm not here to be a spokesman or a martyr for anyone's cause. This is not an ideological issue for me. I don't care if you're gay straight black white transgender or whatever. I really don't.”
  • “Serving in the military is a privilege not a right. And it is sure as hell not a social experiment.”

But, this isn’t the first time Salzman has made waves using social media to call out liberal Hollywood activists.

In January, Salzman took on Meryl Streep’s politically-charged, anti-Trump, Golden Globe Awards rant – and producer Judd Apatow’s praise of it - with social media posts of his military service and injury.

Wednesday’s Twitter storm ended when Salzman finally tweeted that he had “wasted” enough of his day on Twitter and needed to get back to work in order to earn a living:

  • “What started as a few random tweets over my coffee this morning turned into a wasted day. I need to get some work done.”
  • “Sorry, people, but I can't pay my bills with tweets.”
  • “I gained roughly 5000 followers today. Absolutely insane. My notifications are still blowing up faster than I can read them.”

Finally, on Thursday, Salzman tweeted that he might just stop voicing his views on Twitter all together from now on:

“Next time a hot button military topic comes up, maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut.”

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