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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Interesting article on Military.com about the movement to get rid of "don't ask, don't tell.. The military is discharging roughly the same number of patriotic gay soldiers who want to fight as it is re-drafting retired soldiers unwillingly back into the service. It's becoming harder to explain why anybody should care whether the chopper pilot carrying that bleeding soldier back to safety prefers to kiss girls or guys.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is an interesting policy. It's a typical Clintonian weaselish middle position ... or, it's the perfect wedge ... or, it's a brilliant slippery slope. (No wonder the right wing hates him so much.) Telling people "it's okay to be who you are, but you can't talk about it" strikes me as viscerally un-American. If it's legal to be X, then why can't you tell people you're X? You're good enough to die for your country, but not good enough to tell anyone who you are? It's an illegitimate position from the get-go.

And it occurs to me that Clinton might have meant it to be so, when he couldn't get the military to agree to just full out accept gays. "Don't ask, don't tell" is very hard to go back on. It would be hard now to go back to the pre-Clinton policy where the military was expected to actively investigate and root out homosexuality in its ranks. At the same time even conservatives can see that "don't ask, don't tell" is B.S. It's not a position they're likely to fight for. So over time support for "don't ask, don't tell" gets eroded. At some point they're going to stop kicking people out for talking about what they're already allowed to do in secret.

Which makes it a perfect wedge issue. A wedge issue divides the opponent's base politically. The religious right recoils in horror from homosexuality. The military used to be nervous about it, but right now it's in a shooting war, scrambling to find volunteers. Who's gay and who's not is beginning to look irrelevant to its mission, as people like me believe it always was. When you can get the religious right and the military on different sides, you've won.

Do I think Clinton thought of this a decade or so ago? Everyone knows he agonized for weeks about any big decision he made. Everyone knows he has some of the most brilliant political instincts of anyone alive. That's why the right is so terrified of Hillary. They're sure she's going to reframe all the issues so she's on the side of the majority. As she has been.

I read somewhere that (then Gen.) Eisenhower asked the head of the Woman's Army Corps to find and fire all the lesbians. She responded something like, "Well, there goes the whole motor pool. And, by the way, there goes me."

Eisenhower decided the Army was too busy fighting Hitler to find any lesbians.

1 Comments:

Speaking as someone who WAS in the Army, but decided to abandon it because of the draconian policies in place during my term of service, I can only say that the military has kicked out and/or lost thousands of good, capable, patriotic and effective PEOPLE who happen to be gay.

I can honestly say they lost a VERY good solider in me. I was Solider of the Month as a PFC, Solider of the Quarter and selected to represent my Brigade in the European Solider of the Year competition. I was sent to Non Commision Officer's training, (very tough school we graduated a class of 148 out of 200 students, in a 4 week period... ) where I was selected to be the student XO. I was also recommended for promotion quickly, given quite a few commendations and even offered a slot at Officer's Candidate School prior to departing from the Army. I was awarded a good conduct medal. All in all, I was a damn good solider. But the Army couldn't (and still can't) see beyond the fact that I was gay. Shame really, I would have been a valuable member of this country's defense.

No, I wasn't "gay" when I went into the Army, I discovered who I was while in the Army. This happens quite a bit, think of it as similar to finding yourself in college.

Wouldn't everyone be all in an uproar if kids (that's what beginning service people and college students generally are) got tossed into jail because they discovered they were gay while in school. And yet, no one thought it was terrible that the military was sending people to prison JUST FOR BEING GAY.

Then, along came old Billy Boy. Wily rascal, he promised to overturn the DOD's policies if only we queers would help put him in office. Well we bought it. Took the bait, hook line and sinker... too bad we pulled up a minnow. The "don't ask, don't tell policy" is just another way of say "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman!".

Will the DOD's policy change? Perhaps, but it's not really cause Billy was thinking of us queers.

By Anonymous writergurl, at 4:37 PM  

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