Friday, December 24, 2010

Don't ask, Don't tell: a few thoughts.

Recently the military policy "Don't ask, Don't tell" was lifted, although it'll take some time to implement across all of our military branches. This policy directly concerned gays, in essence "Don't ask if people are gay, don't tell people you're gay."

Many are calling this the end of oppression of military gays. I wonder though: was it necessary? For one, its the military. By design, your identity is of far less value. Isn't homosexuality a part of your identity? Why the uniforms? Haircuts? Its simple. In combat missions, who you are is not even in the same ballpark, city, or state than the job you need to do. Being gay or straight has nothing to do with following orders. Defeating the enemy and surviving are the only things that matter, along with any other objective along those lines. Simply put: you're another warm, trained body. Not a merciless killer, mind you. It doesn't take military policy to tell you not to shoot unarmed children.

Second, wouldn't being openly gay make you more of a target to our current enemies, the Islamic extremists? Its commonplace for them to go on "gay hunts" where they track down people suspected of being homosexual and execute them. Gitmo prisoners already freak out when addressed directly by female soldier without face covering. Imagine if they captured a gay servicemember. In fact, don't. It probably wouldn't be a pretty picture.

"If it doesn't increase our lethality and/or survivability, I'm against it." Someone said it on a news show but I don't know who. But it makes perfect sense to me. Why should we be promoting the private lives of our soldiers if it doesn't give us a combat edge or protects our troops from enemy bullets and explosives? Like I said, identity is meaningless in combat. It only matters after the dust settles and the survivors can make sense of what just happened. Maybe someone will get a medal of honor. But that is AFTER combat. During combat, our soldiers need the least amount of distractions as possible. Preparing for combat missions, they need the fewest distractions possible. Whether someone is homosexual or not is one of those things that qualifies as a "distraction." Follow orders, or don't expect to be in the service for much longer.

I am NOT saying that every gay person in the military is bursting at the seams in anticipation with telling everyone they see that they're gay. But it would only take one to create a major distraction which can get people killed. Do I think gays should be discharged if their sexuality is revealed? Absolutely not. Anyone who has the gonads to join the military (I certainly don't!) should be able to stay in, no matter their sexuality. But I feel the whole issue is exactly what identities become on a battlefield: a distraction. I think a better policy for this would be "Don't ask, Don't tell, Don't make big deal out of it." Because its not a big deal if you're gay. Its who you are, which should be subdued in preference for complete focus on the task at hand just like everyone else.

Complete the mission, and survive. We need you to come back so you can tell us how homophobic we are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great write up.

However, while it's true that the military should work to making its soldiers into an almost-faceless, precise unit where preferences -- sexuality included -- are not a concern ... that wasn't happening.

The DADT Policy had many issues. For one, there were MANY cases -- not just an isolated few -- of homophobic CO's going out of their way to LOOK FOR EVIDENCE that their soldiers were gay in order to get them discharged. Also, something as simple as a slip of the tongue could have one of our gay servicemen or servicewomen dismissed from combat over the life they left at home.

Not only that, but the policy encouraged DISHONESTY. To NOT TELL. As soldiers, they should be held to a high moral standard and lying about themselves is not the example to set.

--- Vira Gunn