Come On, Protect the Motherland

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There are (at least) two striking omissions in today's USA Today op-ed defending the exclusion of gays from the American military. Interestingly, the author cites the integration of the British military, saying that emulating the 2000 lifting of the ban on gay soldiers would harm the American military, without stopping to consider whether it's harmed the British military. Wouldn't it be nice, after all, to have recourse to, you know, empirical facts rather than dire speculation? The only problem, alas, is that the results so far don't support that position, though the same apocalyptic predictions were made there before the ban was lifted.

The other is by way of this passing reference to the expulsion of gay Arabic-speaking linguists from the armed forces:

At the Defense Language Institute, homosexual students who were not eligible for the Army were enrolled in the place of other trainees who were.

Apparently, there are droves of qualified people with Arabic language skills, and these selfish folks grabbed their spots. Never mind those wild rumors of a "shortage" of such qualified candidates we've been hearing about.

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  1. Can someone remind me again why it matters where a soldier “parks his gun” so long as he hits the target when needed??

    Hell, maybe more gays would make things like Abu Ghraib less likely? I mean, unless you consider “Queer Eye for the Islam Guy” to be torture. Purely speculating of course (not that there’s anything wrong with that)!

  2. Julian: The first link doesn’t lead to the USA Today op-ed, but to a reprint of an article from The Economist.

  3. Julian,

    Even aside from the omission about the shortage you speak of, am I reading it wrong, or did the USA Today conflate allowing gays into the military with affirmative action for gays?

  4. Can we get a “don’t ask don’t tell policy” for potheads?

  5. But, but — think of the CHILDREN! Whose children, you ask? Uh, I don’t know… somebody’s!

  6. of course they can’t hire homosexual arabic translaters – you could catch the gay IN AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT LANGUAGE!!! they could stealth gayify us!

    we’d never know what hit us.

  7. ding ding ding You just pressed one of my hot button issues.

    I was in the NAVY from 85-91. So I was there when the fag scapegoating started. The assertion that gays diminish the military is total bullshit. The military can use the same time tested method for incorporating faggots as it used for the nigger, kikes, wops, and spics. Everybody gets the same uniform and you all live by the same (copious, rigorous, and soul-crushing) rules. Fraternization is against the rules, same for heteros as homos. Though, enforcement needs to be uniformly applied. And of course all those cock-suckers where serving honorably in the closet before we started rummaging through their mail and lockers, forcing them to come out.

    On the other hand women actually have, and continue to, diminish our military capability. This is because we don’t put them in the same uniform. And by that I mean, there’s a whole different set of rules that apply to females than the standards we hold male servicemen to. That in and of itself need not be a problem if we didn’t insist on perpetuating the fiction that men and women serve equally with the same duties and same opportunities.

    Persecuting faggots is nothing short of a witch-hunt. Anyone truly concerned about putting operational readiness above social engineering would be advocating a return to separate branches (wacs, wavs, wafs) for female personnel.

  8. One of the ridiculous things about the gay translators, is that, even if they insisted on getting rid of them, it would have made more sense to keep them in until they finished language training, and then offer them an honorable discharge and a job at the FBI or one of the intelligence agencies, where linguists are also needed.

  9. My, what slurs, Warren.

    If I can refrain from sexually assaulting my attractive female co-workers – and so far I have – I don’t see why homosexuals can’t do the same. What, really is the difference? Males attracted to women are expected to control themselves, males attracted to other males can do the same.

  10. Gays in the US military would really piss off the terrorists. (Which would be nice.) But I bet the Saudis would be offended too. We can’t have that can we?

  11. Shouldn’t the Saudis then have been offended at Dear Leader tiptoeing through the lilac, holding hands and making out for oil?

    Oops.

  12. Keep in mind Todd, the military is not an MTV world, and Congress passed the law with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. I mean, thats good logic if I’ve ever heard it. Majority rule and weird nonsensical analogies…nevermind real evidence, that allowing gays into the British military hasn’t caused much of a problem. Remember, our beliefs shape the truth, not the other way around…or wait…

  13. While I have no real opinion on gays in the military, I have to say that Warren’s post is the funniest thing I’ve read so far today.

  14. Todd —

    Did you actually READ what Warren wrote? Nowhere does he claim that “males attracted to other males can not refrain from sexually assaulting their co-workers”. In fact, for all his deliberately crude language, Warren has NO PROBLEM with gays in the military. His problem is with WOMEN in the military, or rather with the PC treatment of them.

  15. Although I am completely in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military, I do have to admit that I think one of the points raised in the essay on the British experience is probably more valid here than in Britain: that the added gay personnel might be off-set by a decline in enlistment by homophobes. That still doesn’t justify the policy of course.

  16. Ayn,

    That would be tiptoe through the BLUEBONNETS.

    This is Texas we’re speaking of.

    JSF
    Deep in the heart of it in ol’ San Antone

  17. Warren,

    “Anyone truly concerned about putting operational readiness above social engineering would be advocating a return to separate branches (wacs, wavs, wafs) for female personnel.”

    Couldn’t they 1) segregate by MOS, or 2) standardize the physical requirements (which would probably be 90% the same as #1)?

  18. I wholeheartedly support the ban on gays in the military.

    I feel the ban should be expanded to include: women, blacks, Asians, and anyone below the age of 58.

    If all these people – with their various foibles and agendas – were banned from serving in the military, the world would be a safer place.

  19. I’m suprised no one else picked up on this absolutely fucking ridiculous line:

    “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them”

    So I guess are military should be completely segregated by gender? Or women are out too?

    Or is that the hetrosexuals in the military, unlike those raving homos with their uncontrollable urges to commit acts of abomination against god, don’t feel any sexual attraction to one another when they are in the service?

    Hello?

  20. Better anyone who wants to serve than me.

  21. mtc,

    Good one. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and insert “of the same sex” after “persons,” then by that logic open gays should also be kicked out of public school. Or at least gym class. Amazingly, conservatives take that logic very seriously. Such sensitive souls to give a rat’s ass about getting someone of the same sex hot.

  22. The miliary defends this country and in doing so breaks things. It’s not a social experiment for the latest PC fads. Men and women don’t bunk together for obvious reasons. When the bullets start flying, unit cohesion and trusting the man next to you is what counts. Not saying you couldn’t trust a gay man, but it could disrupt unit cohesion. Sorry if this thinking upsets some, but until you’ve had bullets flying by your head, you don’t understand.

  23. I was an Arabic linguist in the Air Force during the late 70’s, so this is a subject I have some direct familiarity with.

    Even then the linguist field was ‘critically manned’, meaning always understaffed. It was more critically manned than bomb disposal folks. There are a number of factors involved, but one of them is that to be a military translator requires a huge investment in training time and encompasses areas and qualifications that can be hard to combine in a single individual. While there are differences in the sorts of positions involved– Army translators might be involved more in HUMINT interrogation than SIGINT in the Air Force– the sort of individual that has an aptitude for languages might not have the same aptitude for, say, the technical signals and electromagnetic wave propagation aspects that are also an inherent part of the job (like social sciences vs math). On top of that are the military disciplines, physical conditioning, aircrew training, etc, and on top of that, the personal background that can meet a TS/SCI security clearance. Hard to get individuals that can meet all aspects.

    As a non-native speaker, I spent well over 2 years of a four-year enlistment in preparation before even starting OJT, so the military’s investment is very high. If the soldier doesn’t re-up the military has to start all over. I would imagine “stop-loss” moves are really big for linguists right now.

    BTW, in our units there were a good number of folks that might have ‘questionable’ sexuality or lifestyle issues, but were pretty much ignored by the upper echelons because they were needed to do the mission. Don’t-ask don’t-tell is adhered to a lot stronger when the commander can’t fly the missions without you.

    As to the homosexual aspect, the biggest concern the militiary has in this particular area of work is potential security vulnerability, not whether it causes some straight soldier anxiety in the shower room. As long as being gay has some social stigma to it– and it does, of course, as evidenced by things like activists ‘outing’ Republican staffers– homosexuals in high-security jobs like intelligence are regarded at being greatly at risk for blackmail and coercion by foreign agents. Like it or not this is regarded as a real-world operational liability. In a way it would be better if they WERE openly gay, because then it would remove this potential.

  24. That would be a lot more convicing, semper, if it wasn’t identical to the warnings from prejudiced white soldiers about serving in mixed-race units.

  25. just another lurker,

    The CIA dropped its longstanding policy against gay covert agents, and now only rejects closetted gay applicants, for exactly the reasons you discussed.

    So in addition to encouraging soldiers to mislead their superiors, and discouraging officers from closely overseeing their charges, the don’t ask/don’t tell policy is working to encourage gay soldiers to make themselves more vulnerable to blackmail. And this is being done in the name of unit cohesion, good order, and national security.

  26. joe,
    Standardizing by MOS is an awful idea. I don’t see that it gains anything and is therefore needlessly discriminatory.

    Standardizing physical requirements is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. There are many times many ways women are not held to the same standard as men. Things like, female personnel may access male berthing but male personnel are restricted from female berthing (regardless of duty requirements), ship/shore rotation (a Navy thing), false allegations of sexual harassment, acceptable conduct in the work place, gender norming of promotion exams, etc. etc etc.

    There is simply no way to turn the fiction of gender equality in the military into a reality.

  27. “…it would have made more sense to keep them in until they finished language training, and then offer them an honorable discharge and a job at the FBI or one of the intelligence agencies, where linguists are also needed.”

    In response to Jon, I’d note that the FBI, CIA or NSA have far more stringent background checks, so security concerns apply even more. In the militray they (at least used to) pretend to believe you when you deny doing questionable lifestyle choices; at places like NSA they hook you up to polygraphs and stuff. Friends have given me personal accounts.

  28. Not saying you couldn’t trust a gay man, but it could disrupt unit cohesion.

    It was also down the Champs Elysees that the famed Harlem Hellfighters and other black regiments paraded at the end of World War I – an episode which was a turning-point in the love affair between black Americans and France.

    More than 250,000 black soldiers came to France after 1917 but they were looked on with disdain by their white commanders and consigned to menial tasks behind the lines.

    But the French recognised their potential and attached the black troops to their own army.

    The Harlem Hellfighters – the US Army’s 369th regiment from New York City – saw the longest period of action of any American unit and was the first to reach the river Rhine.

    “The French treated them like human-beings, and black Americans never forgot it,” says Ricki Stevenson, of Black Paris Tours.
    BBC

  29. joe:

    Oops, we were posting simulataneously.

    The CIA has dropped it’s opposition? Good for them.

  30. Seems to me the only way a gay man could disrupt unit cohesion is if a straight man in the unit was worried that the gay man might be checking out his ass or whathaveyou. I understand that I haven’t been through the horror of having bullets whizzing by my head (only had a gun pulled on me once, and nothing came of it), but it seems that the problem is homophobes, not homosexuals. I would imagine that any gay man who wanted to join the military wouldn’t be trying to turn his mates gay.

    That being said, my friend’s father, who was a marine and did some “private contracting”, did say that there were a lot of homosexuals who were mercenaries, because they liked the company of other men (putting very disturbing images into my head). But he also made it clear that a lot of those dudes were also quite hardcore, and they didn’t worry too much about unit cohesion. They knew they could trust each other because they had “been in the shit” together. They didn’t worry too much about having another man checking out their package.

  31. In college I periodically saw a physician in Student Health who had various military commendations on the walls of his office. He also wore a lot of pink and had a plaque from the Queer Student Union for serving as an advisor to their organization.

    He was a good doctor. He was very thorough and professional in his exams, he listened carefully and discussed treatment options thoroughly, and he gave good advice.

    I have no reason to doubt that he did a good job taking care of injured soldiers when he was in the service, and I can’t think of any reason why our country should disdain the service of talented people like him.

    And I have a hunch that he would be an ardent supporter of beating the crap out of Islamic fundamentalists.

  32. Semper Fi,
    I’ve never had bullets flying by my head, but I can imagine the last thing I would be concerned about it some guy checking out my ass. Presumably, if trained properly, the gay guy in the trench with me (who also has bullets flying by his head) has better things to worry about than my ass.

    Do you worry about whether the “not asked, not told” guy is checking out your ass?

    raymond,
    Great article.

  33. thoreau,
    My RA and alumni from my fraternity when I was in college was going to Harvard Med to become an Air Force medic. He was brilliant, very adept at using technology to improve his talents, one hell of a drinker and very gay (much to the chagrin of the ladies, he was quite handsome). He, with the help of some of the guys in my fraternity created software for his PDA so that he could have the entire [whatever the name of that doctor book with all the diseases and symptoms is] in it along with a simple searchable interface, so he could type in the symptoms and pull up the list of potential diseases. I have no doubt that he’s a tremendous asset to our armed forces and the Air Force is better with him than without him. If he were to be discharged solely for his sexuality, a lot of airmen would be missing out on one hell of a doctor.

    Even if he got kicked out, he’ll end up on his feet and probably be wealthier as a result, but he’ll be deprived the opportunity to serve his country with honor and our country will be doing a disservice to its men in uniform.

  34. thoreau: You should know better. First we let them save soldiers’ lives on the battlefield. Then we let them adopt AIDS babies or foster abused runaways. After that, it’s pretty much box turtles for everyone. Then the terrorists win.

  35. Seems to me the only way a gay man could disrupt unit cohesion is if a straight man in the unit was worried that the gay man might be checking out his ass or whathaveyou.

    I think you’re underplaying the extent to which sexual tension can mess things up. I’m sure most of us have seen firsthand how sex issues can seriously fuck with a group’s social dynamic.

    I still think the ban on gays in the military should be lifted. But it seems unlikely to me that the military would be the one organization in the world where you can put a man in close proximity with a bunch of members of the gender he’s attracted to without producing stress.

  36. My understanding is that from a drill instructor’s perspective, the only thing worse than a bureaucrat who inflicts PC rules on him is a recruit who dares to waste his time by bitching about it.

    So if a recruit bitches about training alongside a gay person, the drill instructor will probably be absolutely merciless. “RECRUIT, DO YOU THINK I HAVE THE TIME TO HEAR YOU BITCH? ARE YOU QUALIFIED TO TELL ME HOW TO RUN THIS PLATOOON? HOW DARE YOU WASTE MY TIME WITH YOUR WHINING! DROP AND GIVE ME 50 PUSH-UPS NOW!”

    Is that about right?

    It may not bring about tolerance, but perhaps the gay guy and the homophobe will discover that they have a common enemy: the drill instructor.

  37. If the recent decisions on custody cases are any indication, the homophobes would gladly see the country fall rather than allow gay soldiers to fight to save it…

  38. Note to self: Hitting on the (presumably male, otherwise it won’t work) military dude at the draft board is still a viable option to avoid being drafted if the need should arise.

  39. I don’t know how many bullets Semper Fi has had flying past his head — not many, I hope — but I know my father has had quite a few, having served for 28 years before retiring in 1989, and having done four Vietnam tours. Several years ago, when “don’t ask, don’t tell” came up, I asked him about the topic, and he replied, “We had plenty of gay guys in my units in Vietnam, and everywhere else I served. As long as they did their jobs and had your back when it counted, nobody cared.” I tend to trust dad’s opinion on this stuff.

    I’m suprised no one else picked up on this absolutely fucking ridiculous line:
    “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them”

    I’m pretty sure they literally meant “expose,” as in “get naked.” Which, sure, there’s a point there, but the rest of the damned op-ed is so irredeemably dumb that I can’t stand it.

  40. He, with the help of some of the guys in my fraternity created software for his PDA so that he could have the entire [whatever the name of that doctor book with all the diseases and symptoms is] in it

    That sounds like The Physicians’ Desk Reference, a.k.a. the PDR. So he put the PDR in his PDA.

    It may not bring about tolerance, but perhaps the gay guy and the homophobe will discover that they have a common enemy: the drill instructor.

    I’ve actually been told that’s one of the purposes of basic training — build cohesion among the recruits by creating an “us and them” mentality, with “us” being the recruits and “them” being the feared D.I.

  41. “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them”

    Eeek! Horrors! No, just them rocket-propelled grenades. Not those scary gay people!

  42. “Then the terrorists win.”

    At the moment, it seems the fundamentalists in our own country are the high scorers.

  43. Eeek! Horrors! No, just them rocket-propelled grenades. Not those scary gay people!

    It doesn’t seem fair to mock heterosexual men who are reluctant to strip in front of homosexual men. Last time I checked, most women didn’t want to strip in front of a bunch of heterosexual men either. How is that any different? It is human nature to not want to get naked in front of people who see you as a potential sex partner unless the feeling is mutual.

  44. “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them”

    Jesus Dan! Didn’t you ever play a sport in high school? Are you gonna throw all the gay guys off the football team?

    …are you under the impression that the trained killers in our military are especially sensitive?

    Are we subjecting our prison population to cruel and unusual punishment every time they take a shower?

    Ha!

  45. Are we subjecting our prison population to cruel and unusual punishment every time they take a shower?

    Some of the inmates are definitely subjecting other inmates to cruel and unusual punishment…

    The better question is whether we’re subjecting heterosexual high school students to cruel and unusual punishment when they’re required to shower after gym class. One of the kids in that shower could be gay!

    Of all the many humiliations that military recruits endure, I’d say that showering in front of a gay person is probably the least of their worries.

  46. Consider this:

    As Dennis Miller once said, there are already some gays in the military. You don’t get that many men living together to be that neat and tidy by discipline alone! 🙂

  47. “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them…”

    Fine…if you catch any soldiers exposing themselves, you can throw them out! :p

  48. “It doesn’t seem fair to mock heterosexual men who are reluctant to strip in front of homosexual men.”

    Damn, I guess that Village People song reflected the reality of military life more accurately than I assumed. Stripping? Do they oil each other up, too?

  49. “Servicemen and women should not have to expose themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them”

    Jesus Dan! Didn’t you ever play a sport in high school?

    Wake up, dipshit. Elaine Donnelly said that, not me. If you could pull your head out of your ass long enough to see the screen, you might notice that I said I favor allowing gays to openly serve in the military. I never said that hetero soldiers shouldn’t be required to “expose themselves” in front of gay soliders; I just said they had legitimate grounds for feeling uncomfortable.

    Are you gonna throw all the gay guys off the football team?

    You’ve constructed some bizarre straw man arguments before, Ken, but citing high school football teams as an environment where openly gay students can be themselves pretty much takes the cake. Please — if the members of the typical high school football team found out that one of the guys showering with them was gay, they’d beat the shit out of him. I had friends who were beaten up just because jocks *thought* they were gay.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that a lot of you simply haven’t bothered to put any thought into this. If the Army announced that it was abolishing all separate facilities for men and women and that henceforth every aspect of military life would be entirely co-ed, would you mock the people who suggested that this might cause problems? Would you accuse them of bigotry?

    Actually yeah, you probably would. I should never underestimate this forum’s capacity for mindless cynicism. My bad.

  50. I’m all for keeping all gays, women, and people of colors other than white out of the military. I also think that it should be an all volunteer army populated by avowed rednecks and racists. Then we should have a nice long brutal war with similar soldiers from other countries.

    If a bunch of sexist, racist, homophobes want to kill each other, who am I to say no?

  51. I bet Dan’s a lot of fun at parties.

  52. “It doesn’t seem fair to mock heterosexual men who are reluctant to strip in front of homosexual men. Last time I checked, most women didn’t want to strip in front of a bunch of heterosexual men either. How is that any different? It is human nature to not want to get naked in front of people who see you as a potential sex partner unless the feeling is mutual.”

    Jesus Dan! Didn’t you ever play a sport in high school? Are you gonna throw all the gay guys off the football team?

    …are you under the impression that the trained killers in our military are especially sensitive?

    Are we subjecting our prison population to cruel and unusual punishment every time they take a shower?

    Ha!

    …feel better?

  53. From personal experience when there are bullets whizzing over your foxhole the only question you have about the folks on the line is, “Can they shoot straight under pressure.” When I as platoon leader said, “Follow me!” I didn’t give a damn what the grunts behind me were checking out, as long as they kept moving and shooting.

    Besides, in combat everyone was too damn tired to worry about getting any.

  54. wsdave sounds like he’s been reading Sheri Tepper’s “Gate To Women’s Country.” (An anti-male ode to eugenics that appears to advocate women manipulating armies of men into killing one another off to permanently weed violence out.)

    I think some interesting points have been brought up here. I’m in favor of gays openly serving, I figure your sexual preferences has exactly ZERO correlation with whether or not you can take a bullet or shoot the enemy for your country.

    But I also think that Dan’s got a really good point: ” think it’s pretty obvious that a lot of you simply haven’t bothered to put any thought into this. If the Army announced that it was abolishing all separate facilities for men and women and that henceforth every aspect of military life would be entirely co-ed, would you mock the people who suggested that this might cause problems? Would you accuse them of bigotry?”

    The other good point that’s been raised here was by Warren: “On the other hand women actually have, and continue to, diminish our military capability. This is because we don’t put them in the same uniform. And by that I mean, there’s a whole different set of rules that apply to females than the standards we hold male servicemen to. That in and of itself need not be a problem if we didn’t insist on perpetuating the fiction that men and women serve equally with the same duties and same opportunities.”

    Every time my girlfriend got a perfect score on physical fitness tests for doing far less than what it took just to get a passing score I wondered what in the hell the point was. If the point is to be able to handle the physical requirement of the job, set the test to reflect that. It still boils down to who you want “covering your six” – a 200 lbs. guy who can carry a heavy rucksack (or your injured body), lift a heavy object that has fallen on you off of you, etc. Or do you want a gal who can pass the PT test with a whopping 9 push-ups and a run that is roughly the same speed as a brisk walk?

    Oddly, a guy whose score would pass the female PT test could be a failing score on the men’s PT test, and therefore grounds for being discharged for failure to meet standards. Since these standards are used in determining promotion eligibility in most of the services, this seems like it would be a problem for equal opportunity supporters who believe merit and qualifications are more important than appearance/gender/race.

  55. J. A. Lurker: “In response to Jon, I’d note that the FBI, CIA or NSA have far more stringent background checks, so security concerns apply even more.”

    Perhaps, but even if 10% didn’t make it in, it’d still be worthwhile to let them all complete the training.

    For the ones that don’t meet the standards of the FBI/CIA/NSA background check, they might be useful in a big-city police department, or in airport security, or customs, or something.

    I’d think these people would tend to be young, which makes it less likely they’ve had time to get mixed up with questionable connections. And they’re in the military, which suggests few will be radical leftists.

    If they’re going to Army language school, they probably aren’t native speakers of Arabic descent, so they probably don’t have connections to possible terrorist groups.

  56. “I had friends who were beaten up just because jocks *thought* they were gay.”

    Why doesn’t that surprise me?

    “Please — if the members of the typical high school football team found out that one of the guys showering with them was gay, they’d beat the shit out of him.”

    Most high schools have a policy against beating the shit out of people in the shower. I think the military has some rules against that too. …We are talking about policy, aren’t we?

    “If the Army announced that it was abolishing all separate facilities for men and women and that henceforth every aspect of military life would be entirely co-ed, would you mock the people who suggested that this might cause problems?”

    No one is suggesting that. What has been suggested is that treating gay people unjustly simply because some people are afraid of being seen naked is silly. Gay high school athletes see naked heterosexuals in the locker rooms of high schools all across America every day.

    …Should gay high school athletes be thrown off the football team if they come out of the closet?

  57. The part of high school I still don’t understand is why if you joined the football team and spend your time slapping jocks on the butt you’re a manly man; but if you hung with the choir, where two-thirds of the members are girls, you’re suspected of being gay.

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