As I write this post, Lt. Dan Choi has a hearing coming up about the crime of offering to translate Arabic for the US government while being gay.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell is mere institutionalized bigotry based on irrational fears, the like of which the US military has successfully overcome in the past with other feared groups. The military could just as easily educate its way out of this phantasm of a threat, but simply elects not to.
To not be able to mention a loved one is, to the speaker, a lie. Consider the fuss made about Peter denying Jesus (three times before the rooster crows) in the Bible. Clearly, many of those who champion this ridiculous policy, since they often quote chapter and verse about Christian values while advocating as they do, are aware of the issues of shame surrounding forced denial of someone loved. They should understand that, for all intents and purposes, to deny someone loved is no harmless compromise but rather places the speaker under duress, compelling the worst kind of lie. Shame on anyone who chooses or endorses the ridiculous policy path that leads to such a “need.”
Gays are not asking for the right to draw others into sex. Inappropriate sexual conduct should not be tolerated in someone gay or straight. Any abuse of power, sexual advance without consent, or explicit display of sexual practices in an inappropriate venue is already something to be avoided by all good citizens, gay or straight, military or not. The rights gays really crave are much more modest; they include things more like the right to say they are gay at all, the right to speak the name of those who wait at home praying for them, the right to have photos of these loved ones visible on their desk or bunk.
There have been, are, and will be gays deployed in the active duty military, to include the battlefield. Surely the military does not deny this. The fact that no problem results from that is proof this is a non-issue except insofar as peoples' uninformed fears are catered to. If there are people who insist on being worried by misinformation, those are the people who are a danger.
Controversy surrounding the discharge of Lt. Dan Choi, a linguist fluent in Arabic, is unbelievable. The petty nature of this problem should be a wake-up call to us all. If anything, his act of “coming out” was brave. Yet he has paid dearly for exercising his conscience in ways he never should have been required to. This situation should be seen as a Rosa Parks moment for anyone who's been putting up with this issue until today.
At Nuremberg, alleged war criminals used the “just following orders” defense, and were told “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” The nature of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is quite different than what happened at Nuremberg, but we can still learn a lot from philosophy underlying this lesson. The military has many rules, and yet underlying everything must be a sense of humanity. I suggest that for gays to be compelled to suppress information of this kind, not just for a moment to serve some specific situation but over an extended period of time while acting in service of their country, is nothing less than unconscionable. A higher sense must prevail here, and we must come to see that it is not the violation but the policy that is out of order here.
We're having so much trouble getting people to volunteer for the military, yet we're discharging someone who's qualified? We've got budget shortfalls, yet we're wanting to throw out someone who is already trained and qualified, paying still more money to train his successor? We've got trouble finding people fluent in Arabic, but are opting to lose this mission-critical resource because of our concern with the gender of the person he beds down with after a day's work?
Our military leaders need to help us, as a nation, grow up about this matter. That includes President Obama, in his role as Commander in Chief, if he stands by this policy. It's time we admitted what the real threats to the US are— and what they are not.
A letter of support for Dan Choi is being assembled. Please read about the letter, sign your name and add your comments.
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