• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Limp Duck Lames Its Way to the Finish Line

It was something of a Lame Duck surprise but, after two centuries of bigotry, Congress finally ended official discrimination by the military against homosexuals. Gays were, of course, ecstatic. Progressives rejoiced. Senator Barbara Boxer, ear to ear smiles, bowled over and bear-hugged a supporter. We did it babe! Some commentators went so far as to suggest that Obambi had "restored" his crediblity with the "left". And at this point, one might very well say: Get a grip, babe.

A few Bah Humbugs, are in order.

1. Gays were never prevented from serving in the military. Sexual orientation may in fact be genetically determined but, whether it is or not, being homosexual is a matter of conduct. Unlike blacks or women who cannot change their physical appearance, gays were always able and always did serve in the military. They were able to do so precisely because the military is highly "mission-focused". Conduct that is not relevant to the mission is not relevant. As long as gays kept their sexual behavior private (not a bad rule for anyone) no one much cared. Dynamic Duos like McCain/Thurmond tried to make gayness relevant by yapping up Ewnit Kaheszhun. As to which no one can do better than (gay) aviator Lt. Tracy Thorne who remarked with deadpan sarcasm that, from listening to the likes of Congress, "one would think everyone in the Navy did nothing but take showers."

2. Military discrimination against gays was less a question of keeping gays out than of embarrassing their military careers once they were in. The 14,000 gays discharged since the enactment of DADT (Don't Ask Dont Tell), is ample evidence that gays had little difficulty getting enlisting. Nor, for the greater part, was their discharge due to inadequate military performance -- i.e. not keeping eyes on the mission. Their discharge was due to a switcheroo by the military itself which, taking its eyes off the mission, suddenly decided to make an issue of what was not relevant. There were subtler forms of hypocricy and discrimination as well, particularly in the ranks of career officers whose advancement was made dependent on a plethora of heterosexist expectations such as having a wife (of the right gender), 1.3 kids and a dog. There is no question (at least on this pile of chips) that it was long time to end what boiled down to a culture of inequality that was not justifiable except by recourse to self-serving excuses.

3. But "progressives" ought not (in our opinion) loose sight of the fact that what we are talking about is the right to participate in blowing away villages in Af-Pakistan. The military is the Machine of Empire. It is the force that the United States is using, not to defend itself, but to impose its will on others. It was not always that way. The War of Independence, the Civil War, the Great War and the World War may all be considered episodes of honorable soldiering. Not so Indian Removal, Central America, the Philipines, Vietnam and now the so-called War "against" Terror. Today, the U.S. military is the agency of civilian slaughter, devastation and plunder. One might wish the Cause of Equity were whored to a better john.

4. Nor should the "left" let itself be taken in by claims that Obambi has "delivered" on at least some of his promises. Administration apologists are at work coupling the repeal of DADT with Obama's other "success" -- health care reform. It needs to be said unequivocally that so called health care reform was a health care sell out and that, at the end of the day, repeal of DADT is small beer. To say that ending discrimination against homosexuals is right is not to say that it is the summum bonum of all things. There are many other issues which affect many more people, in more critical ways and which are simply more important: affordable education, employment, housing, income-equity, fair taxation, health care, retirement security and, above all, saving our stunning, beautiful, beautiful Mother Earth from a devastation that will in the end devour us.

On these more critical issues, the Democratic Duck failed to deliver even when it had its two feet. Senator Boxer is head of the Senate Environmental Committee; and on this score, the Babe ain't done nuthin.