Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Will The Military Adapt?
Well, it’s about time the military took its head out of the sand regarding homosexuals in the ranks. I could never see the reasoning behind someone considering gays inappropriate for the military. The opposition had been saying things like this would “undermine order and discipline and unit cohesiveness.” Of course, I cannot find a single article or source to support these fanciful statements. People abandon reason when it comes to finding ways to endorse previously existing prejudices. The military — in the U.S. at least — has been a haven for discrimination. I dare anyone to tell me it isn’t. It has been 25 years since I served my hitch, and during that time, I heard enough of people feeling hurt and abused by statements perceived as racial slurs, as well as actions that ranged from hostile to physically violent. Sometimes these affronts came from peers, but more often from people of higher rank.
Yes, as a woman, a Jew and a psychiatrist, I had my share of harassment. It was bad enough coming from among the ranks but I even heard an unforgettable anti-female slur from my Jewish chaplain — a real live ordained rabbi in uniform who had had a camouflage yamulke and liked to jump from airplanes. When I told him I was heavily trained in Jewish liturgy and wanted to contribute to the ritual any way I could — including teaching others — he told me that there plenty enough men to fill ritual needs and so it was not necessary for him to do anything with a woman. The military was to me a place where civil rights were stripped from you. The idea of the military taking time to comply with this new ruling — well, the bigger and the more unwieldy the bureaucracy, the longer it takes to do things. But when it bucks longstanding, pre-existing prejudices, it can only take longer.
After reading the news releases, I am wondering, really, how the military will get around enforcing this, because it just might be too much change for that organization to handle. There are also some suggestions that this may hurt combat troops and how they are currently perceived. I think what they are really saying is that near-eastern cultures do not accept gays. This is irrelevant. America is supposed to be a country that treats every citizen as equal. America is supposed to be safe refuge for the persecuted. If I had to think of one reason — just one — why I served, it is because my grandmother of blessed memory had her house ransacked by Cossacks, thought she would be killed, and came to this nation to be safe. And she was. At a time when the American Military is scraping for recruits, I think it should welcome those who have been excluded for this idiotic policy, and who wish to come back. I have a feeling there will be many.
We saw the military shoot itself in the foot when it dismissed Arabic translators – at a time when they didn’t have enough – just because of their sexual orientation.
One of the most prominent – and outrageous – examples was a fellow from my old outfit (82nd Airborne at Ft. Brag, NC) who didn’t admit he was gay (under “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” you were “safe” if you didn’t come out and admit it). But he was “outed” by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors.
Once again America tries to tackle “questions” as if nobody else had these questions before. Thomas Jefferson read a lot of philosophers before he wrote the Declaration of Independence, and studied a lot of European architecture before he came up with the basic plan for buildings and roads in Washington, D.C. Are we just too excessively proud as we age as a nation, unwilling to consult others?
Lots of European militaries have experience with gays.
But the author of this blog did a review of the Greco-Roman attitude toward gay fighting men. It rings true, for men with lovers back home have always fought thinking at least a little bit of the well being of those whom they love. I have no doubt women would behave similar. But the author of this post certainly came up with something delicious about our heritage that I would never have thought of. Our Star-Spangled Banner is a symbol beloved by all. The last time I was at the Smithsonian — granted some years ago — the original one that flew over Baltimore harbor and inspired Francis Scott Key to write those lyrics, was kept behind an opaque shield that was lowered regularly so museum patrons could look at it and the light would not destroy it.
The song upon which the tune of that song is based came from an English dance song, “Anacreon In Heaven.” Anacreon was a poet, lived 570-488 BC, and like a lot of poets, wrote mostly about love in its many incarnations.
Now you can browse them all if you like, but I think it is pretty certain we are dealing with a practitioner and purveyor of “man-boy love.”
Run that up the flag pole and see who salutes it!