DADT: thoughts about ‘non-sexual bonding’ and refraining from the happy dance
In the wake of yesteday’s Senate hearing on DADT repeal, there are two reactions out that drew my attention. One was the lunatic WSJ op-ed by foreign policy journal editor Mackubin Thomas Owens. He took umbrage at the thought that heterosexual soldiers were capable of serving openly with gays and lesbians. The old saw of unit cohesion came up again, with this infantile, *sshat statement by Owens:
[T]he military stresses such martial virtues as courage, both physical and moral, a sense of honor and duty, discipline, a professional code of conduct, and loyalty. It places a premium on such factors as unit cohesion and morale. The glue of the military ethos is what the Greeks called philia — friendship, comradeship or brotherly love. Philia, the bond among disparate individuals who have nothing in common but facing death and misery together, is the source of the unit cohesion that most research has shown to be critical to battlefield success.
Philia depends on fairness and the absence of favoritism. Favoritism and double standards are deadly to philia and its associated phenomena — cohesion, morale and discipline — are absolutely critical to the success of a military organization.
The presence of open homosexuals in the close confines of ships or military units opens the possibility that eros — which unlike philia is sexual, and therefore individual and exclusive — will be unleashed into the environment. Eros manifests itself as sexual competition, protectiveness and favoritism, all of which undermine the nonsexual bonding essential to unit cohesion, good order, discipline and morale.
Wow. Owens’ eruption really needs deconstruction and discussion because it raisese several questions:
1. Then what about eros and women in the military? All of the above also true – and came up time and again when women were being integrated into the military. In fact the whole line in the sand barring combat service for women has been blurred as they are practically on the front lines anyway, subjected to the same levels of lethal force in Iraq, for example. Does Owens want women out of the military?
2. Owens renders our fighting men weak, ignorant and guided only by their “little brains.” (It’s clear women aren’t even considered in Owen’s op-ed, so let’s set that aside.) If our mlitary is so strong and powerful, how can its capabilities be undermined so easily by their pee-pees? From the POV of Owens, if gay service members come out of the closet, the barracks will instantly become a cruising bar, complete with a disco ball and rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs. In his mind the soldiers can’t tell the difference between comradeship and bonding under stress-filled, life-threatening conditions and a pick up line.
3. Apparently the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a useless document. Owens alternately views the military as an institution of rules and regulations and as a lawless outpost. It’s clear he’s afraid that all this potential aggressive man-on-man cruising will lead to sexual assault that will go unprosecuted. Hmmm. Well he may be on to something — women who serve are being assaulted and raped at record levels, with their male peers going unpunished or receiving a slap on the wrist. If Owens envisions that scenario, he should spare his wrath against those who want to repeal DADT and direct it to those in the Pentagon that don’t take sexual assault and harassment seriously. It doesn’t matter whether it’s same- or opposite-sex criminal conduct — both should be prosecuted under UCMJ, including fraternization.
Media Matters shreds Owens up. Take it away, folks, I’m sure you have lots to say.
The other piece to take a look at is David Mixner’s “DADT: They Are Killing Us Softly With Their Song.” His position is that while we finally have the President and his military leaders Defense Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen strongly on the record for repeal in a very public way, it’s not time for a happy dance by any stretch of the imagination.
The problem is that DADT isn’t going to end in the near future – not even this year. These new converts are asking for a year long study and then maybe at least another year before implementation. After all is said and done, the implication is that once they ‘study’ us one more time, they might slowly integrate us into the Armed Forces over the next few years.
What do they mean they have to ‘study’ for a year our impact on the military if we are allowed to serve openly? How offensive is that?
Along with the unnecessary study about the impact of DADT on the agenda, the focus needs to be on Congress and its foot-dragging. Flip-flopping John McCain, who said he “needed to hear from the generals first” before his final decision, looked positively feeble and fossilized up there at the hearing. He offerws up discredited Elaine “homo flow chart” Donnelly’s letter w/1,500 flag officers supporting DADT. A letter signed by officials mostly over 70 years old, four of whom passed away even before the letter was published. The side of discrimination has no credibility left — what is Congress waiting for?
[T]he fact still remains on a daily basis we must lie who we are to our family, friends and those who lives depend on us. We must never acknowledge a loved one at home nor admit that we have a life like anyone else. We must continue to dehumanize ourselves for the comfort of others for an antiquated policy that should have never been implemented in the first place. Our soldiers who die in combat have to think of their partners who will be denied full rights in their heroic deaths. Who will not be even allowed to accept the flag as their loved one is buried. What kind of change is this? Not much of a one!
…Congress should act immediately for the full repeal of DADT and we should refuse to support or give money to anyone who does not support such an effort. In less than a year, we will face a Congress that is less friendly than the one now. Do we really believe our chances will be much better next year than this year?
Repeal it now. Stop the crap and deal with us as full American citizens. The policy is offensive, obscene and immoral. There is no reason to study us; just embrace our talents, gifts and patriotism.