"I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded…"

post-memorial day: repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell”

Posted in politics by stuart sia on June 4, 2010

For a long time in our history, people of color were denied the opportunity to fight, and even die for our country. In our vehemently racist past, a seemingly levelheaded argument was made that a person of color would be in physical danger not only from the enemy, but his fellow comrades who couldn’t be expected to see beyond the racial stereotypes and saw people of color as somehow a threat to white superiority. Nevertheless, people of color served, notably the 332nd Fighter Group of the US Army Aircorps (aka the Tuskegee Airmen), the first African American pilots to fight and die for the US, and the 442nd Infantry Regiment of the US Army, an Asian American unit of primarily Japanese-Americans whose families were being interned, which remains the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States Armed Forces. The remarkable thing is whereas the desegregation of the American South was issued by force and enforced with the firm arm of the National Guard, the desegregation of the military started by Eisenhower and put into nearly full effect by Truman had the backing of veterans and currently serving military who had come to appreciate the courage demonstrated by the people of color who had fought so valiantly alongside of them, albeit incidentally (God forbid that white soldiers should be forced to fight alongside black soldiers; segregation, fortunately, had ensured this affront to propriety did not happen often). As a follow up to Truman’s Executive Order 9981, Secretary of Defense McNamara issued Directive 5120.36, which empowered military officers to use economic leverage to influence local businesses and ensure that veterans were treated with dignity and respect regardless of their race, religion, or national origin. In other words, it wasn’t civilian society forcing desegregation and equality down the military’s throat, but rather, military officers seeking to protect their own men, and war veterans realizing the injustice of how the greater society treated their fellow comrades.

Similarly, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has the backing of men and women who have served alongside their once in the closet comrades who have since come out as gay. Just last month, hundreds of veterans converged on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress to repeal this discriminatory policy. The education and training one receives in the US Armed Forces is comprehensive, and teaches military men and women much more than how to load and fire a weapon. And beyond that are the lessons drawn from the battlefield, of what really matters, what America really represents, and what is really worth dying for.

The misogynistic enemy we now face cringes at the reality that they are fighting (and losing) to the women currently serving in our military. It is ironic that they are in full agreement with the right wing, überconservatives, who care little for the rights of gay Americans. Imagine their dismay to learn America no longer discriminates against homosexuals and that, indeed, openly gay men and women are among those battalions laying siege to their oppressive rule.

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