The most important distinction made in this morning’s hearings by supporters of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is about the difference between perception and experience, believing and knowing.
First, the gap between the perception of service members who don’t understand they’ve been serving alongside LGBT people all along, and those who do. A full 92 percent of the latter are just fine with that -- and that includes high percentages of OK-ness among active combat troops. Second, there’s the experience of the Netherlands, Britain, etc., all of whom have reported that there was plenty of fussing by straight troops before the open inclusion of LGBT service members, and virtually none afterward.
You’d think the Service Chiefs of Steel, particularly Generals Amos (Marines) and Casey (Army), who are the most openly opposed to repeal, might be embarrassed to be spending so much time being squishy about the perceptions of their troops when faced with what history and experience show: That repeal is a non-issue, especially when troops are engaged in combat; their minds turn to other more important issues. Then again, it’s always the toughest guys who are the biggest sissies, at least on paper, when it comes to knowingly sharing a foxhole with someone who gets it on with people of the same gender. Where’s Sharron Angle to tell Amos, Casey, and their combat troops to “man up”?
Today, like yesterday, what grinds most is the hypocrisy of the opponents of repeal -- the gap between the Service Chiefs’ and the Republicans’ concern about how it might affect their troops versus the actual, current effect on troops of other stressors. It’s OK to stretch the forces by forcing multiple deployments. It’s OK to stretch the forces by making up for low recruitment numbers by allowing criminals to serve beside them. It’s OK to ask the troops to fight two seemingly hopeless wars over the course of a decade with no end in sight. But asking them to knowingly share showers with LGBT people is one toke over the line.
-- Nancy Goldstein
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