Where I’m at: Arlington, just back from Alexandria
What I’m doing: watching a show on gigantic animals (a 50 ft python! ahh! a 1100lb colossal squid!)
Why I’m posting: a good time to post on this issue after a NYT article on the subject three days ago and a Pentagon report issued yesterday
On the whole, I’m a very tolerant person. I can appreciate almost any wacky view someone can hold, not because I believe s/he is right, but because I believe it is right to let someone hold it. Far from moral relativism, this is the essence of democracy (something you may have heard that I support).
What I absolutely cannot tolerate – and which I seek to extract from or prevent from entering my world view with all effort – is hypocrisy. It’s about the dirtiest word I can think of. So that’s the last time I’ll say it in this post (at this point, you’re hoping that the closing quote is that of the hyenas from The Lion King saying “Mufasa” over and over. Sorry…though enjoy recalling Whoopi Goldberg’s voice).
Now, speaking of the h-word, it’s almost not fair to turn to politics. But I’m going to anyway. During the first week that I had this blog, I started a post on this very subject that I never finished. So why now? Because the subject has gotten juicier. Having danced around introducing the subject long enough, it’s this: the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The problem is, the military doesn’t even support this policy anymore. Secretary of Defense Gates has criticized the policy, calling for its retraction. So has Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mullen. The Pentagon released a draft report yesterday questioning the effectiveness of the policy (covered here by the NYT). So who’s policy is it? Well, I guess it’s Congress. It’s Congress’ because it no longer can be the Executive’s or the Judicial’s (if the courts can even have a policy). That’s thanks to a federal court’s injunction last month preventing enforcing of the policy. Though gay rights advocates have been less than happy about the Obama administration’s general non-action on the subject, it’s that same “inaction” by its Attorney General Holder that will permit the injunction to effectively become a permanent ban. Of course, the original decision has been appealed, but the vigor with which the government will try to attack the decision is debatable at best.
And so the responsibility for the continued retention of the policy rests with Congress, and specifically certain members who are vigorously defending the policy. This includes, unfortunately, Senator McCain. This is a man whom I respect for a number of reasons (though I often, if not mostly, disagree with him), including generally his word. But when Sen. McCain, one of the architects of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” says he will consider repealing the law when military leaders call for its repeal due to ineffectiveness, and said military leaders do so, and then that same senator refuses to re-address the policy…well, that’s where I get off. And that’s where the h-word comes in.
I suppose a good rant doesn’t need to do more than sow a bitter seed, thus I’ll leave it at that. Almost. My last word is about that tolerance I first mentioned. I don’t really care if you think being gay is a choice or is innate. But like being Jewish, joining the drama club, or simply holding an unpopular opinion, being gay is something that is very often discriminated against and the targets of that discrimination often face threats, taunts, insults, death, or worse. Going off of the common sense notion that most people would prefer to be happy rather than not, we ought to appreciate people that stand proudly as who they are, with what or who they love beside them, knowing that they may face the worst of what humanity has to offer. As Americans, I would hope that we look at the two parties there – the one standing tall and proud versus the one hissing at him – and side with the former. I know that confidence, pride, and bravery in the face of fear are what our military has always stood for. Let’s let those people that do just that stand in the light.
Who said it: Voltaire. My man!
Why it’s relevant: Tolerance, my friends. Tolerance. And the sacrifice that our men and women in the military make for us. One which obligates us to extend them the same freedoms they protect.
The quote: “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”