Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A group of Military Bloggers has published a statement in support of repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military.  Like Admiral Mullen, the bloggers take the repeal of DADT as inevitable and say that the military can handle it and should get ready to comply.  David Marron at Thunder Run posted the statement and I am sure will cover the on-going controversy if you are interested.

I admit to being of two opinions on the issue.  I served with gay soldiers back in the 70s and now.  There will always be gays in the military, but in the tight confines of Army life, no one currently has to deal with gay behavior.

So on the one hand, DADT is like the porn policy.  All through the tour last year, pretty much everyone admitted or bragged about watching porn.  But, no one was subjected to other people's porn because the rule was Zero Tolerance for porn.  So when I walked in a room, the person who was watching porn was careful to turn the screen toward himself and have earphones in.  The soldier watching "Saw V" had no worries about me or any other sergeant seeing his horror movie.  DADT keeps gay behavior out of view.  If the end of DADT means having to deal with openly gay behavior, it will be difficult.

On the other hand, after seeing the difficulties women have in the intensely male environment of the Army, it may be easier for gays to integrate than women.  I first enlisted in the 70s and found the military more integrated than my hometown of Boston.  Louise Day Hicks led her last busing riot in 1977 in Charlestown, Mass. just across the Charles River from Boston.  During the 70s young soldiers of every race found out that they all had two things in common:  they wanted to get high and they wanted to get laid.  This lowest common denominator meant that the kid from Newark, the kid from Watts and the kid from Sawyerville, Alabama, had a common interest.  Especially on the subject of smoking dope.  The drug tests did not begin until 1971 and were not effective for years after.  The dope smokers of all races helped each other cheat the test.

When I was in Iraq last year, men ate with men who did the same job, followed the same sports, or wished they were home fishing.  The older the were, the less likely they were to gather by race.  Women, on the other hand, sat with women.  Since women are just 10% of the force, a table of women stands out in a DFAC that seats 400. 

It seems to me it will always be difficult for women because their off duty interests are so different.  But I certainly don't know for sure.  Since it seems inevitable that DADT will end, I hope I am right about the gays integrating quickly.

One odd side note is the difference between acceptance of gay men and women.  I never heard a male soldier say they wanted all the Lesbians out of the military.  The only soldiers I ever heard say they wanted gay women out of the military were women. 

SPQR and America

Senatus Populusque Romanus The Senate and People of Rome Some of the soldiers I served with in Iraq talked about getting an SPQR tat...