Friday, May 15, 2009

How Homophobia Makes America Less Safe....

I admit I have not really felt the urge to blog about "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" for a couple of reasons.

The first is just the sheer stupidity of the entire policy. There are thousands of dedicated men and women currently serving in all branches of the U.S. Military with honor and distinction. They also just happen to be Gay or Lesbian. The idea that the practice of discharging Gays and Lesbians from the armed forces is somehow protecting military effectiveness is simply insane.

The second reason is that it's hard not to let emotion take over the debate on this issue. I have several good friends still in the military, some who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. All whom, are Gay. Some on their third and fourth tours overseas. Their "gay agenda" is pretty simple. - Stay alive and come home.

Speaking before a Senate Hearing in the Fall of 2007, then outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace became something of a poster boy for the nonsensical arguments for the current policy. In his testimony, Pace noted that the U.S. Military Code of Justice prohibits adultery as well as homosexual activity.

Actually no, adultery is not listed as an offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ detail what are "punitive offenses" (things military personnel can be prosecuted for), and Adultery isn't on the list.

Adultery is covered under Article 134, which is also known as the "General Article." It prohibits conduct which is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or conduct which is prejudicial to good order and discipline.

There is a street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea just a short walk from the main gate of Yongsan Garrison , one of the largest American Military bases in the world. The street is commonly known as "Hooker Hill." On any given Friday or Saturday night you can see pleanty of American Military personnel, many of them married, frequenting the impressive concentration of brothels found there.

General Pace never mentioned his outrage over this in his testamony. Yet he expressed at length his deep personal concerns over the danger to the military posed by homosexual conduct.

To hear General Pace tell it, the real threat to good order and dicilpline was not, extended tour after extended tour, or a VA system that failed wounded soldiers, or contractors getting paid ten times the average salary of enlisted personnel. Not even the lack of adequate equipment or an exit strategy from an Iraqi civil war seem to have had the same weight on General Pace's moral threat scales as the idea of two men and one cot did.

The obsession by conservatives and their various mouthpieces over all things Gay is not hard to understand. If I were a former Bush Administration official, I too would be looking for something else, anything else to talk about, besides the colossal blunders and potential war crimes that are their legacy.

Which brings us to the curious case of Army Lt. Daniel Choi. Choi is a West Point graduate, an Iraq War veteran and an Arabic linguist. On March 19th of this year, Lt. Choi appeared on the "Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC:

Let's set aside for the moment that Lt. Choi is a West Point graduate, and all the qualifications and skills it takes to even get in to West Point let alone graduate with distinction. Let's also set aside for the moment the fact that Lt. Choi has already served his country with great honor and success in a war zone. (A resume item that neither of the past two, nor the present Commander-in-Chief can claim.)

Instead let's just look at one thing. Lt. Choi is an Arabic Linguist. He speaks and reads Arabic. In fact, Lt. Choi is one of 54 Arabic Linguists and translators that have been, or are currently being kicked out of the Military for their sexual orientation.

I could go on and on here about how firing people who speak the language of the country we are currently fighting a war in is damaging to our national security. But John Stewart says it far better than I can...

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Apparently the supporters of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell", would rather have our troops in a a war zone with far fewer people who speak the local language than allow brave and dedicated Americans like my friends, and Lt. Daniel Choi to continue to serve.

To all the Republicans who pound their chests about how the policies of the Obama Administration are "making us less safe", here is a prime example of exactly that.

You want to make America safer? Allow people like Lt. Daniel Choi to do their job.

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