Entry from November 22, 2010

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Tammy Schultz argued that what is now beginning to seem like the imminent repeal of the armed forces’ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy ought to please rather than alarm the Marines — who, as we learn from a leak of the Pentagon’s study of the subject, now to be published a day earlier than planned, are more opposed to the repeal than the other services. “What is it about the Marines?” writes Ms Schultz, who is herself a lesbian and the director of national security and joint warfare at the U.S. Marine Corps War College:

Compared with the other services, why do a disproportionate number of them overtly resist ending “don’t ask, don’t tell”? . . . In the Corps, the creed that “every Marine is a rifleman” means that no matter the Marine’s specialty, he or she is ready to fight. Marines do battle where the stakes are high and the quarters close. Although they have individual specialties, they all have infantry in their blood. As a rule, ground pounders are more conservative, resistant to change and likely to uphold tradition. This equates to a fear of the unknown — in this case, serving in combat with an openly gay Marine.

How, exactly, does upholding tradition “equate to” fear of the unknown? If Marines were inclined to fear of the unknown, they wouldn’t be Marines. Such dubious psychologizing is typical of the proponents of repeal, as is the even more dubious “research” on which they base their assurances that the tradition-upholders ought to put their burden down. “I have researched the implications of repealing the law,” Ms Schultz continues, “willing to land wherever the facts led me.” Gratifyingly but not surprisingly, she found that “the facts” led her, as they so often do, only to re-affirm her own inclinations in the matter.

The argument that we can’t repeal the policy because it would impair troops on the ground from carrying out their missions is specious; the opposition to the policy on practical or logistical grounds is surmountable. The values of honor, courage and commitment are inseparable from the Marines. By definition, gay and lesbian Marines break one or more of these core tenets every time they have to hide or lie about who they are. Eventually, gay Marines must out themselves by upholding Corps values, or continue compromising the very values that make them Marines.

I have written before, here and here for example, about this favorite gay notion of “who they are” and here about the absurdity of referring to reticence and discretion in the matter of one’s sexual behavior as “lying.” But I see here a further disturbing dimension to this bogus argument about “Corps values.” That is, there are lots of ways to answer the question “Who am I?” For a man who has voluntarily joined the armed forces to serve his country, the number one answer ought to be a soldier of the United States Army, a sailor of the U.S. Navy or, similarly, an airman or a Marine. Those who would repeal DADT constantly talk of a right to be “Who I am” — i.e. gay — as if that not only were but had to be the number one answer for gay people. And then they proceed to argue that their being who they are will have no effect on unit cohesion! Merely putting that answer ahead of the one that should be ahead of it (and all others) is detrimental to unit cohesion; it emphasizes what divides those who insist on it from their fellow servicemen, not what unites them to them. It suggests a higher loyalty — a loyalty to self — than their loyalty to their country and their comrades, and it is itself the best reason not to repeal DADT.

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