Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Video: My GRITtv interview with Laura Flanders | Main | Of course the National Enquirer should be eligible for a Pulitzer Prize »

February 03, 2010

There are no homophobes in foxholes: Repeal DADT now

Some (admittedly ridiculous) people say that we shouldn't repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell in wartime. Really, though, what better time to take the decisive step towards justice and equality? In peacetime, homophobes in the military would have plenty of time to obsess about all the terrible things that might happen if the gays were let in.

But if you learn that the person who is entrusted with keeping you alive in a firefight is gay, are you really going to make a big deal about it?

Comments

Ismone, I haven't said that gay and lesbian service members should face discrimination that heterosexuals do not. But to your more general question: what about gay and lesbian servicemembers who are already risking their lives? I wish they would come out as homosexuals in order to separate from the service and end their participation in the illegal wars of aggression that America is conducting.

How would it strike you if a gay Muslim complained that he wouldn't be allowed to serve as a suicide bomber if he were open about his sexuality? Would you agree that he shouldn't face discrimination that heterosexual terrorists do not, or would you be more concerned about the morality of what it was he planned to do with his hard-won equality once the freedom of homosexuals to murder in the name of a cause had been secured.

Gays and lesbians insisting on the right to join the military right now are insisting on the right to become part of those wars of aggression.

Again, I'm not sure how this is relevant to criticizing attempts to repeal DADT, unless you think that there's some sort of tradeoff, and that repealing DADT and ending the wars are in some way exclusive. Those are related in that they both involve the military, but they're not related policy choices.

If your point is just "Hey, DADT involves the military, so this is a convenient time to complain that progressives aren't doing enough to end these other bad military-related things," then yes, your point about an essentially unrelated topic is valid. If your point is that progressives shouldn't bother trying to end DADT until they've accomplished the more important goal of making sure that the U.S. military is never used for evil purposes, then this doesn't make a lot of sense. By this logic, we'll never get around to repealing DADT, or for that matter, changing anything. Even if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were ended tomorrow, the U.S. military will continue to be a tool for agressive imperialism. That's unfortunate, to put it mildly, but it hardly makes sense to say that until that's fixed (i.e. never) it's "disappointing" or "sad" to fix what can be fixed. By your logic, it would be sad or disappointing to have tried to end racial segregation in the armed forces, or to try worry about corrupt practices in awarding of civilian contracts.

My point is that the oppression gay and lesbian citizens suffer should teach them they should not join the military, because, as you point out Even if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were ended tomorrow, the U.S. military will continue to be a tool for agressive imperialism. Fighting for the rights of lesbians and gays to be tools of aggressive imperialism will never be progressive.

Why should they be more oppressed than straights who are doing the same bad thing?

lsmone, they shouldn't be more oppressed. I would hope that straights would make the same decision not to support America's imperialistic wars.

But I'm curious how you react to the thought experiment about a gay would-be terrorist insisting on his right to equal treatment. Imagine someone who claimed that his local pro-life group wouldn't allow him to participate in bombing an abortion clinic because of his sexual orientation. How important would his right to equality be in light of what he planned to do with it? Isn't the issue of discrimination in this particular case trivial compared to the immorality of murdering patients, physicians and nurses?

Parse, your question seems hypothetical, but in fact there are cases of women fighting alongside men in terrorist groups. One group, the MEK, made a big deal out of being feminist and having a lot of female fighters in its ranks. In less violent cases, there are women in modern fundamentalist groups, both Christian and Muslim - for example, the majority of foot soldiers in the US pro-life movement are women.

I'm not familiar with real-world cases of gays in such movements, but we can use women as a proxy. The reaction of mainline Western feminists is all over the map. Groups that do not have female subjugation as part of their official agenda, such as the MEK, do get feminist praise. Groups that do support sexist goals do not, though if you asked me I'd tell you that the US feminist disdain for the role of women in pro-life activism is disgusting. But none of the institutions gay activists want to join is officially anti-gay. The US military isn't, the institution of marriage isn't, and the churches that gays want to be ordained in have already renounced viewing homosexuality as a sin. This is similar to the case of blacks in the US, too: military service was considered one of the symbols of the struggle for civil rights, and in fact DuBois encouraged blacks to enlist in the military in WW1.

Your mileage may vary, but I'd argue that the only true liberation for an oppressed group occurs when its members no longer need to stay in radical subcultures to be equal.

Parse,

That is a false equivalence. Unless you want a junta, the military has to follow the directives of the civilian government. Also, whether you agree with the Iraq war or not, immediate withdrawal would be even more devestating than what is going on now because of the destabilization the war has caused.

It's a nasty business, and you're right, probably an illegal business under international law. But who do we want over there? People who believe the war is just (perhaps divinely inspired) or a cross-section of our population including people who disagree with the war, who are discriminated against, and who are even liberal or progressive? Who do you think will be more likely to treat the locals with dignity and respect, and be less likely to murder them in cold blood?

If we're equivalent to terrorists, we're all equivalent to terrorists, not just those of us taking up arms. Because we are a representative democracy.

But who do we want over there? People who believe the war is just (perhaps divinely inspired) or a cross-section of our population including people who disagree with the war, who are discriminated against, and who are even liberal or progressive?

I don't want anyone over there. That's why I think people should decline to serve in the military, rather than fighting for the right to join it in the name of "equality."

If we're equivalent to terrorists, we're all equivalent to terrorists, not just those of us taking up arms. Because we are a representative democracy.

But I don't participate in that representative democracy, specifically because I reject that notion that legislators elected by a plurality of voters have the right to act in my name.

Unless you don't pay taxes, you do participate. It is being done in your name, with your money. Don't kid yourself.

You say you don't want anyone over there, but if we were to actually, in the real world, withdraw everyone now, lots of people would die. You need to deal with that. Otherwise, you're suggesting out of some sense of moral purity that more people die because you don't like the war. I don't like it either, but I realize at this point, we have to make the best of it.

Unless you don't pay taxes, you do participate. It is being done in your name, with your money. Don't kid yourself.

If you don't pay taxes, you can go to jail. You can't coerce people with threats of police action and imprisonment and then claim their participation entitles you to act in their name. Are victims of extortion "participating" in organized crime?

Besides that, millions of people who don't have voting rights pay American taxes. Paying taxes is in no way evidence of participating in representative democracy.

You say you don't want anyone over there, but if we were to actually, in the real world, withdraw everyone now, lots of people would die.

Again, here's the "we". I've shared my hopes that individuals will decide for themselves not to participate in the military, much less demand the right to particpate in it because that makes them "equal." That's about individual responsibility, not collective action.

The individual responsibility would only matter if it lead to collective action.

And maybe you should read what HDT had to say about civil disobedience and consider your own actions before you declare yourself innocent. You're not.

The individual responsibility would only matter if it lead to collective action.

Yeah, but what if they gave a war and nobody came?

And maybe you should read what HDT had to say about civil disobedience and consider your own actions before you declare yourself innocent. You're not.

I didn't say I was innocent. I said that I didn't participate in represenstive democracy. That doesn't mean I don't participate in political action. With all due respect, you don't have any idea about the civil disobedience I may have practiced in the past, may be practicing currently, or might practice in the future.

The comments to this entry are closed.