Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Which I Come Out as a Pacifist Hippie

....and perhaps a disappointment to my father, who spent 20 years in the Army and more than 2 additional decades as a military consultant.*

The failure to repeal DADT is, in the end, hardly surprising. Others can speak far more eloquently than I about the appalling cowardice of the Democratic Party when it matters to progressive issues. Others can speak far more passionately than I about the crippling terror of the military closet.

But those aren't the real reasons I'm unsurprised about the failure to repeal DADT. In the military, young men and women are trained to reject one of the most fundamental values that families, religious communities, and communities teach them. They are trained, in short, to kill - to violate one of the Big Ten. For Christians, at least, this is a grievous sin. And our goverment supports - no, expects, DEMANDS - this from our servicemembers! Our government celebrates those who kill "the enemy."

Our culture celebrates, even valorizes, those who are most effective at violating one of the Ten Commandments. (And then we wonder why so many returning from war have trouble readjusting to civilian life.) Why, then, should we be surprised that our military also trains young men and women to reject another fundamental value - that of telling the truth? For thousands of gay and lesbian service members, they are trained - again, expected, DEMANDED - to lie about who they are, and who they love, in order to serve their country.

I'm not under any illusions: allowing gay and lesbian servicemembers to live openly will not force our culture to reexamine our lust for blood or our paradoxical insistence that we live in a "Christian nation" while training our young people to violate the commandment against killing. It will not turn us all into pacifists. But perhaps, if we are going to ask our young people to kill, the least we can do is let them be honest about who they are.

*I kid. He's proud of my ability to think independently and come to my own conclusions, even when we disagree. For my part, if anyone had to do what my dad did, I guess I'd rather it was him doing it than someone else.