Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Even Think About It

I suspect that some of you were wondering why I haven't weighed in on this subject already.  It's because it's bigger than I am.

In many ways, the beginning of my military career marked the end of an era.  The new era that began closely on the heels of my own swearing-in would be defined in large part by the aggressive integration of women into the armed forces.  With the current push to accommodate open homosexuality, I sense a parallel dynamic at work.

A dozen or so years into my career, a woman officer who I happened to work with at the time, and who was just a bit junior to me, asked me what I had thought about that integration process when it was first occurring in the mid-1970s.  She asked me because she knew, first, that my career straddled the change in policy, but also because I was quite conservative and traditional.  I knew that she was someone who had benefited considerably from that change and I was very aware that the question was loaded with landmines.  I also knew, because I had learned the lesson very well over the years, that if one couldn't enthusiastically support the new policy, the safest course was always to keep one's mouth shut.  But I answered her nevertheless.  I told her that I had no opinion at the time, which was true, I didn't, because I realized even then that the whole thing was so much bigger than I.

The current effort to integrate openly practicing homosexuals into the military has the same feel about it and the Pentagon report presented last week by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs only confirmed it.  Right or wrong, prudent or foolhardy, the integration of openly practicing homosexual is in the zeitgeist and it's going to happen whether I, or you, like it or not.  It's bigger than we are.

For the record, I don't like it, I think it's wrong, and I think it's foolish.  To explain why, I can't do any better than Mac Owens does in his reaction over at The Weekly Standard.  Along with pointing out the many problems with the report, Owens also brings to our attention the substance of an e-mail written by a Marine colonel that was apparently making the rounds several months ago.  The colonel asks a series of questions about what, exactly, a change in policy would mean.  What conduct would and would not be permitted?  Could a cross-dressing male homosexual, for example, where a skirt to the PX?  Some months ago, I posted a blog about the possibility of transsexuals serving openly.  I wondered, only half-jokingly, which uniform they might wear.  The male, the female, or something in-between?

But, as I say, such objections don't appear to matter much, if at all.  And, to be fair, I suspect whatever hodgepodge of exceptions and adjustments that are eventually made to make the new policy "work", we'll still manage somehow to field the best fighting force in the world, a force against which no other existing army would be a credible match.  The integration of open homosexuals will simply present one more problem with which a commander must deal, much like the integration of women is an additional challenge with which he currently has to attend.  To be sure, it'll unnecessarily complicate the task, but he'll somehow manage nevertheless.  Moreover, as the real number of homosexuals is undoubtedly far smaller than the progressive elite would like us to believe, it'll be a problem that occurs mostly here and there.

Which all leads to what, as far as I'm concerned, is the real crux of Owens' piece and the real issue:
The Pentagon report notwithstanding, the current arrangement seems to work quite well. So why the push to repeal the law and reverse the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy compromise? The short answer seems to be that this is not about individual homosexuals serving in the military but about a broader homosexual agenda.
Much as the integration of women into the armed forces that began 35 or so years ago had more to do with the broader feminist agenda than, more simply, whether or not individual women could serve, the "broader homosexual agenda", i.e., the crusade to normalize homosexuality, is what this contemporary push is really all about, although few will say it directly. 

So here's a shot across the bow that, because the issue is bigger than I, I'll concede even before I type it, will change absolutely nothing.

Imagine that tomorrow morning every man, woman, and child in the United States woke with an entirely new opinion on this subject, an opinion in which they decided not only to tolerate homosexuality, but to actively affirm it as well, to celebrate it even.  What would that change in opinion mean to any particular homosexual, to a homosexual you actually know, to one you might even hold dear?  When compared to the overwhelming majority of all Americans, their sexual inclinations would still remain different, odd, or, dare I say, "queer".  Openly pursuing and practicing those inclinations would not, for that reason, make them any less queer.  Nor would the approbation of their fellow citizens relieve, in any meaningful sense or for anything longer than  perhaps a passing moment, their essential pain.  In fact, it would likely make it worse, because we, and they, would know it to be a lie.  


  1. What has perplexed me is why leading opponents of the open homosexuality policy have not emphasized the fundamental fact that the uniform means the wearer must suppress his or her own emotions and opinions for the sake of the policy. Perhaps they think that explaining such a cultural difference is too difficult. Why should the expression of personal views or emotions stop with sex?

  2. Indeed. Also, the objection that we shouldn't do this during a period of armed conflict strikes me as a dodge. The phrase from the law, "prejudicial to good order and discipline" seems as good a hook as any to hang the cultural problem on. That is, open homosexuality remains so contrary to broad cultural norms that to introduce it at all would be prejudicial to good order and discipline. From there one can proceed to explaining just why it remains so contrary to those norms,i.e., natural law, Western tradition, judeo-christian ethics, etc. Also, I suspect we all have learned too well the lesson that cultural differences are nothing more than expressions of personal taste. As though a culture that countenances "suttee" is no better or worse than one that finds it outrageous.