|Jun. 11th, 2009 @ 05:56 pm The gays are queering my unit!|
|In chatting with psylion, we came up with a few points about the current fluster over Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Maybe you read about the recent firing (just one of many since the policy first went into effect) of Arabic linguists in the US armed forces due to their breaking that rule and discussing their faggotry. It reminds me of the debate about including women. "I can't work in close quarters with these people! Not in the intense circumstances of armed conflict!" After the initial "oh, just get over your homophobia, dumbass", we found ourselves pondering...|
- People are saying, oh, Obama has to focus his energy and political capital and all that junk on the economy stuff. He can't reform everything at once. There's just not enough bandwidth!"
I guess that makes sense. Obama has made it very clear that he's not going to do everything his lefty supporters would have him do (Guantanamo mess, etc). But sure, political reality, strategy, etc. And it came from Congress, so it's not like Obama can just wave his Commander-in-Chief hat and make it all better. (Right?)
psylion disagrees. "We're in two wars," she says. "We need to address anything that's making us less effective at dealing with those wars." Losing Arabic translators hinders us. Homo-discomfort is a lower priority. Forcing yourself to constantly smother a basic part of who you are is tough on people. Does pretending to be straight hinder people's effectiveness as soldiers?
- And anyway, all the news stories paint a picture where many of these soldiers are out in all but name. I don't know if this is the common case, and I guess different groups would react differently to awareness of the truth, but it suggests that the armed forces can accommodate queer people without imploding. I've been told that the process of basic military training focuses on normalizing everyone who goes through it. You want to strip away people's personal qualities so that the main one they retain is "soldier". You want people who will work as a unit, with matching parts. (Hence the haircuts.)
I dunno if this is doctrine or just something I read in some novel. But it strikes me as futile. No matter how much of a "soldier" identity you can build, people still retain accent, culture, skin color, language, sexuality, music taste, soul.
- Finally, psylion's father, a former Navy man, put up this criticism: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" makes every queer serviceman and woman a security risk. Every one of them has career-ending blackmail hovering over them. It could be from inside: "Give me the promotion, or I'll publish the pictures of you holding hands." Or it could be from external enemies. All it would take is a minor smear, it seems to me. Why put such a large security risk into law? Change it, Congress!
Anyway, I don't know the realities of life in the armed forces. Maybe I'm being a naive outsider. Still...