2010-12-22

Repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Moving and important words from our Vice-President and President today.

You can read the remarks here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/22/remarks-president-and-vice-president-signing-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-a

Or watch the video:


http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/22/president-signs-repeal-dont-ask-dont-tell-out-many-we-are-one

I'm very happy about this development -- even though it is tinged with just a hint of ambivalence. The ambivalence most comes to the fore, in my mind, when the President said:
"As one special operations warfighter said . . . .'We have a gay guy in the unit.  He’s big, he’s mean, he kills lots of bad guys.'  (Laughter.) 'No one cared that he was gay.'  (Laughter.) And I think that sums up perfectly the situation. (Applause.)"
Yes, this is a good day.  Yes, it is an important step toward justice, fairness, consideration, and cooperation.

An even better day will be the day that we stop dividing humans into "good guys" and "bad guys."An even better day will be the day we stop imagining that killing lots of anybody is a commendable thing.

The real "dawn of eternal peace" to which Biden (quoting Eishenhower) refers will come when we don't have militaries at all: when neither gay men nor lesbians nor straight men nor straight women serve -- openly or otherwise -- in the armed forces.

"Force can protect in emergency," said Eisenhower, re-echoed by Biden. Yes, it can. But real peace, just as Eisenhower went on to say, requires justice, and, as Eisenhower did not go on to say, real justice requires all of us to develop the skillful means ("upaya," as the Buddhists say) for tending with care and concern to all human needs so that those "emergencies" that require violent self-protection never arise.

Some part of human aggression -- I don't know how large or small a part -- does seem connected with ultimately unhealthy notions about masculinity and sex roles and sexuality. Insofar as we now allow straight women, gay men, and lesbians to fight next to the straight men, maybe those old unhealthy notions about masculinity, etc., are eroding. And with that erosion, maybe we are becoming a people less eager to fight wars. That would be nice.

Is allowing gays to serve openly in state-sanctioned violence a step toward fairness? Yes. Is it a step toward eventually ending such violence? I don't know, but I would like to hope so.

I would dearly love to hope so.