Many Heeb readers don’t realize that in addition to being Humor Editor, Jewdar is also the Military Affairs Editor, so in the wake of the Senate’s most recent failure to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it’s probably long overdue for us to weigh in on this whole “DADT” debacle.
First of all, from the military perspective, we get it. Not the wisdom of the policy, but the logic behind it. DADT reminds Jewdar of Maintenance Day. A long, long time ago, when Jewdar was busy defending democracy (or at the very least, keeping Kentucky and Tennessee from having another outbreak of Civil War), every Monday was Maintenance Day. That meant that every Monday we were supposed to clean our weapons, even if we hadn’t used them in a month, and even if we’d cleaned them every Monday since. So we’d take them back to the barracks, strip them down, and run a desultory rag over the bolt while watching MTV and making obscene comments about Debbie Gibson.
If an officer came in, he would see us cleaning our weapons, and could feel that his orders were being followed. We, by contrast, could feel that we were pulling a fast one on him. Of course, everybody knew what was going on, but nobody asked, nobody told, and everyone was happy pretending that they were getting away with something. So we can understand the frustration of assorted generals and admirals, thinking that they came up with a policy that makes perfect military sense (“C’mon, it’s just like Maintenance Day!”) but that everybody seems to hate.
But while Jewdar can understand it, we can’t really sympathize, because it really is a stupid policy, and one which should be overturned. Now, lots of people have spilled a lot of ink on the subject, but none of them did so from the moral high ground atop which Jewdar lounges in his hammock, so we’re hoping that we’ll give ourselves an authoritative, and hopefully last word on why all the arguments in support of DADT are stupid, and hence, why it’s time for DADT to go (and in the interests of fairness, we do appreciate the acronym).
1. Homosexuality is immoral—In Jewdar’s high-speed, low-drag unit we had adulterers, addicts, alcoholics (and those are just the “A” vices), all of whom were considered to be perfectly acceptable Screaming Eagles. It seems to us that at the point at which Satanism is an officially recognized religion in the army, you can’t really argue that letting gays in the military is sending the wrong message.
2. It will harm military readiness—We confess to being concerned with unit cohesion. But we know a little something about history. And while we imagine some soldiers today don’t want to take a shower at the same time as gay soldiers, back in 1948, the military was full of troops who wouldn’t even want to use a shower, or toilet, or water fountain after a black soldier had used it. And yet, when ordered to do just that, the very same soldiers who grew up in a segregated South served in integrated units. And here’s the thing—unlike all the supposed supporters of the military who wring their hands over unit cohesion, Jewdar actually believes in our troops enough to trust that, if ordered to accept gay soldiers, they will treat their prejudices the way our troops have always treated obstacles : improvise, adapt, and overcome. This is particularly true because most troops already think the military is full of gays—the military is full of young men, obsessed with masculinity. Like any such setting, everybody is always evaluating everybody else. Jewdar thought there were other guys in the unit who were gay; other guys in the unit thought Jewdar was gay, and yet, despite that, nobody ever treated anyone differently. We can’t help but feel that, in a lot of cases, gay soldiers who announced it would find a chorus of “Dude, we totally knew,” and that would be that.
3. The military shouldn’t be used as a lab for social experimentation—Jewdar couldn’t agree more, which is why we feel that social conservatives need to stop using it as one. The main criteria for being a soldier should be just that—being a good soldier. And at this point, when most of the service chiefs have given the approval of repealing DADT (with the exception, of course, of the Marine Commandant, but as all soldiers know, jarheads are a bunch of closet cases anyway), there is really no argument for not repealing — other, of course, than legislative spinelessness. It’s time that the US Congress stopped treating the military like it’s a church youth group, and started letting soldiers soldier.
What’s funny is that, metaphorically speaking, applying the standards used by those opposed to gays serving openly in the military, DADT is, well, gay. It is morally dubious, it harms military readiness, and its defenders insist it belongs in the military solely as a means of implementing their social agenda, rather than because it serves the bests interests of the military. Don’t get us wrong; Jewdar wishes DADT nothing but the best–summers on Fire Island, Cher tickets, and a lifetime subscription to Details–but by the standards of DADT itself, it’s high time DADT were discharged.