Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Washington Post airs op-ed opposing lifting miltiary ban; what about the effect on civilians?
I have to say, it is to the credit of The Washington Post to present “all points of view” on controversial or debatable issues, so today on p A19 I had to deal with the op-ed Gays and The Military: A Bad Fit” by four retired officers and “founding members of our Flag and General Officers for the Miltiary”, James J. Lindsay, Jerome Johnson, E.G. "Buck" Shuler Jr. and Joseph J. Went. The link is here.
I see that I’ve not given the link to HR 1283, introduced by Ellen Tauscher, D-CA, “The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009” link here.
For the most part, the arguments are circular: the ban should be kept because most soldiers, from a “generative” and gender-biased culture, would object. They do mention the Nunn-Moskos 1993 arguments and concerns over “privacy” in the barracks.
They also say that US military is “better” or more critical to world security than foreign militaries (including now Britain’s) which have lifted the ban. It sounds snobbish. That would not look good overseas or with NATO.
They don't quite say so, but I guess they would want to go back to "asking" directly. (The law, Section 654, says, "ask if necessary" essentially.) I remember some field grade officer telling me that in the rain in 1993 at a Koons dealership as we waited for cars. "I think we should ask. We aren't a second-rate military like everyone else."
At the end, the authors say “Everyone can serve America in some way, but there is no constitutional right to serve in the military.” But that’s the rub. Let’s say, society needs more teachers. I was a sub for a while, and pretty out and well known. Teachers sometimes need to be respected just for being in a position of authority over students. If the US government says that, as a matter of federal law, I am unfit to share the risks of defending our freedoms and our country because of what amounts to an internal “gender deficit” made public (and when that means someone else may "sacrifice" in combat instead of me), then how can I expect students to respect my “authority”? They will believe that I am “not good enough” to be in charge of them/ OK, you say, this is a paradigm that I have created. But I have lived with it all of my life, since my 1961 expulsion from a civilian college as a freshman for admitting homosexuality, under pressure, to the Dean, who, among other things, feared the “corruption” of the forced intimacy in a cramped dormitory environment. We didn’t go home for four months. I would come of age in a world where my psychological background made me suspect, considered a security risk. I would go on to take the draft physical three times, going from 4-F, 1-Y and then 1-A and serve two years honorably in 1968 in order to "redeem" myself.
Remember, too, there are other "civilian" situations where people share intimacy: the Peace Corps, the FBI Academy. We don't seem to have "this problem" there, do we?
Update: April 17, 2009
According to The Washington Blade, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that it could take "years" to nix "don't ask don't tell". He says he needs "one to one conservations" on what is an emotional, existential topic. The link is here.
Update: April 20
The Washington Post printed two letters in response to the column, the second an ironic put-on, in "Anti-Gay Sentiment That Smears the Military", link here.