Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The repeal of DADT: the lies they told

By now, you've seen this image, I'm sure, of the US Navy petty officer claiming the traditional right of the "first kiss" after the ship comes home.  It's a long tradition, with a twist:  this time it's two young women.  And no one really cares that they are a same-sex couple serving openly.  Far more important, as any servicemember will tell you, is that the sailor is home from the sea.

There has been little real response to DADT repeal. Indeed, the biggest thing to notice is how little it's been noticed.  A Marine officer goes to the Marine Ball with a boyfriend.   A decorated airman can finish his career honorably.   Even the Marine commandant who was originally opposed to repeal, is pleased at its results.  And I'm not particularly surprised.   Living in San Diego, I  know quite a few military, largely Navy but a few Marines, and they are above all professionals.  Of COURSE they've done what they should--it's what a professional force does.

And, frankly, sexuality is a non-issue to them, across the board-- from BP's cousin, an aviation technician from a carrier who danced at our wedding in his dress blues, to the young sailor my stepdaughter dated briefly, who had no issue with her gay parents or his gay colleagues (and yes, even before DADT repeal, he knew who they were), to the retired Navy Captain in his 80s who always greets us with a big hug, and asks how the battle for marriage equality is going.

Writing in the HuffPo, Nathaniel Frank challenges those who made dire predictions about DADT destroying the American military to admit they were wrong (emphasis mine):
During the years I spent researching and writing about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," I frequently pointed out that when other countries lifted their bans, nothing bad happened. But people weren't convinced that the same would hold true here. As my colleague Aaron Belkin has theorized, in the U.S., fear and anxiety about change had swelled into full-blown paranoia. And this sentiment was being exploited and inflamed by political opportunists. There is even firsthand evidence that military and cultural leaders exaggerated the threat to unit cohesion throughout the debate over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in an effort to give credibility to what was, at bottom, simple prejudice. 
....Throughout our history, opponents of equal treatment have insisted that it would wreak havoc on society, indeed that it would cause such grave disruptions that equality was an unacceptable threat to civilization. This "disruption" theory was wielded against African Americans, immigrants, women, gays and lesbians, and transgender people, to name a few. It is perhaps the sharpest tool in the arsenal of people who refuse to rise above passions and prejudice, but who know that they can't win their argument using religious and moral dogma alone. So they deploy arguments that sound secular and pragmatic -- equality will somehow harm kids, undermine the family, destroy civilization -- to mask what really amounts to feelings of discomfort, resentment or simple opposition to sharing first-class citizenship. 
The "disruption" theory was exactly what was applied -- and finally defeated -- in the effort to keep gay people from serving openly in uniform.... 
We hear that letting gay couples marry will disrupt the social fabric of American life, undermine marriage, kill a "culture of life," dry up the Western population, and threaten our civilization. If this is what was said about gay people serving openly (which it was), and if none of it happened, then the lesson is monumental: a culture of anxiety has become a politics of paranoia, which has pulled the wool over our collective eyes in service to maintaining an unjust status quo. Will we let it happen again and again and again? Will anyone be held accountable for steering us so terribly wrong?
And the other thing I'd like the naysayers to do is apologize to our military.  To assume dire consequences is to insult their professionalism.   Somehow, though, I think we'll be waiting a long time for that.


PseudoPiskie said...

Certaintude is destructive. Nothing worse than having one's prejudices proved silly. Suddenly the basic concepts must be abandoned for what? Reality? So many of us can't bear reality. Sad. Once faced, reality is easier to live with. Keep posting, IT. I read.

JCF said...

This picture just makes me SQUEE!

But here's an even better angle---