DADT Redux

So, since the petition went up, there’s been a bit of churn on this issue.

CJ Grisham put up a counterpetition, asking that DADT not be dismissed, and stating that:

We urge Congress to oppose any efforts to repeal the law and lift the policy of openly homosexual service in the military. A large number of associated concerns and costs are associated with the repeal, among them housing, legal status in various states, and moral objections from the majority of the force. The policy would also open doors to legitimate objections from polygamists and other groups who would feel discriminated against. The time is not now to consider such actions while our military is at war on more than two fronts.

Jimbo – of course- signed both CJ’s petition and recruited me to sign the one I signed. I called him about that, and will let him make his own explanations – I’ll just say that it’s not clear he had his serious face on when he signed CJ’s.

Simon Owen, over at Bloggasm, did a pretty thoughtful piece on the ‘nuance’ in this discussion.

Andrew Lubin, a co-signer of the petition I signed (who BTW is trying to raise money to do another embed – go over and donate), messaged me on Facebook and challenged my interpretation of our petition.

So let’s go back to the petition that he and I signed and look at the last sentence.

“The US Military is professional and ready to adapt to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell without compromising its mission. Echoing Sec. Def. Gates and ADM Mullen, we welcome open and honorable service, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Now I don’t know why Andrew (and maybe Jim) are backpedalling from the clear position that sentence defines. I’m not.

No, I’m not a soldier or a veteran, and so on one hand I get it that my opinion in this argument may be devalued somewhat. But it shouldn’t be, It shouldn’t be because all those soldiers out there? Ultimately, they work for me, and people like me – civilian society. And ultimately they have to function within the boundaries we set for them.

Now I’m kind of a public supporter of the military in word and deed, so before my uniformed friends blow a blood vessel over what I just said let me point something out to them.

My kid – the one walking around Afghanistan in battle rattle – doesn’t give a shit about this issue. I’ve asked him. His buddies, asked over a beer, don’t give a shit.

The 19 and 22 year olds – from all over the country – to a large extent are just flat past this issue.

It’s time the 50-somethings writing about it were as well.

7 thoughts on “DADT Redux”

  1. There is a certain bleak comedy in older members of a military culture which prides itself on discipline and respect for authority…

    …Basically throwing temper tantrums, threatening to quit, because they don’t believe these orders can be followed.

  2. My point is that many people my age, when they look at the societal changes, see the world changing and their power to stop that change rapidly ebbing. Their belief systems being overthrown and they understand on a visceral level, how impotent they are.

    Toc3, it’s not that I’m completely without sympathy, here. It is a poor brand of sympathy that shows its face only to people it agrees with, politically or otherwise.

    Still, given a conflict that I would pitch in terms of trampled civil rights on one side, vs the natural process of history and aging on the other… well, they don’t get the same amounts of sympathy.

    Although, on a purely personal level, I take an almost unholy delight in picking out contradictions in the way people think and act, and this definitely applies. Trust me, it doesn’t go over any better at cocktail parties. I can say only in my defense that I try to be as aware of it in myself as I am in others.

    (Finally, I’m not sure your general rule is really that general. Some people never stiffen up like that. Others seem to freeze at about the age of 25. Members of the same family, even.

    (Otherwise, I’d have to slit my wrists when I turned 50– I’m not giving the future carte blanche to shove any damn thing down my throat, but I don’t ever intend to stop learning and changing.)

  3. I have the honor of knowing a few men in their 70s who are still punching harder than almost anyone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. For that matter, we might look at Justice Stevens, who at 90 is only now considering retirement, after a very long and powerful career.

    I don’t buy the notion that young soldiers are ‘past this,’ although I’m willing to buy that Big Guy and his particular companions are. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with soldiers too, these last few years — in Iraq, mostly.

    I also don’t buy the idea that there’s anything like ‘progress’ in social views. There’s change; and sometimes it goes one way, and sometimes it goes the other. We view it as progress (if we do) because the positions are closer to our own; but it should be normally expected that, as you move further away in time as if you moved further away in space, there will be greater variance in mores. If I travel from China to my home, stopping in each town along the way, I would find that people were evolving more and more toward my own mores as I got closer to home. I could read this as progress — that people were getting better as I got closer to my home — but that would be a misreading on my part.

    The same applies to changes over time. If we look at any issue where we tend to hold our ancestors in disdain, and feel that our own generation (or those following ours) is morally better, I suspect that we’re looking at travel rather than ‘progress.’ There has certainly been change; but I’m not prepared to accept that this means that we are better people than were the Founders (say), or the WWII generation (which we blithely label ‘the Greatest generation’); or that the next generation will be better than us.

    It’s likely that we’ll view them as worse than us, if we adopt that model: because they’ll be traveling away from our position. It’s a mistake to read that as progress, or regress. It’s just change.

  4. Quite a while back, when I was about 55 (my long lost salad days), my son pulled me aside and said, “Dad, you have to relize something when you speak to people.”
    “What’s that?” I asked
    “You’re old”

    The conversation changed my life for the better. Though I didn’t feel either then or for that matter now, I looked old not only to my 25 year old son, but to people 20 years older than he.

    Worse, I would look by the day and there was nothing I could do about it.

    It seems our ability to shape the world begins to fail us at around 50. We may have more power, in some senses, but those younger than us begin to sense how vulnerable we will soon become and, like teenagers, begin to tell us what we want to hear, if only to clear the way for their ascent.

    People do not listen to old men. they may pay them homage and give lip service to their wisdom but the world is the property of those who act, and have years of vigor and vitality ahead of them.

    My point is that many people my age, when they look at the societal changes, see the world changing and their power to stop that change rapidly ebbing. Their belief systems being overthrown and they understand on a visceral level, how impotent they are.

    THAT is no country for old men. The young
    In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
    Those dying generations – at their song,
    The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
    Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
    Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
    Caught in that sensual music all neglect
    Monuments of unageing intellect.

    An aged man is but a paltry thing,
    A tattered coat upon a stick,

    Cormac McCarthy brilliantly illustrated this reality with our present society as its backdrop.

    Older veterans, and Tea Partiers, for that matter, will eventually come to accept this or they will die not accepting it. It is not a matter of giving up, it is a matter of understanding that we no longer swim in those mackerel crowded seas.

  5. Marcus, I am completely in agreement with you as far as embracing change is concerned and even more so with the fact that many people, at a very young age make a single decision, say being a socialist or capitalist based on that decision and never re-visit it. Thus leaving others to make their decisions for them.

    My post was simply a statement of fact. My acceptance of that fact has made me a lot happier than many of my contemporaries who meet societal changes with knee-jerk anger and lectures that begin with “In my day…”

    Frankly, I am not sympathetic to that mindset at all. I like new ideas in the face of change, because new ideas are exciting. It actually depresses me to see this creeping fear of change begin to overwhelm many of my contemporaries, many of them once brilliant individuals.

    Ironically, it hearkens back to Ginsberg’s line about the beats,

    “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”

    Only the madness is different now, it is fear and not drugs.
    I could go on about this, but I won’t.

  6. By the way, don’t slit your wrists. I have never been happier or more active in my life since I had an accident that caused me to lose my short term memory completely for 2 years and having to recover it for an additional 2 year period, shortly after my son’s comment.

    Old age sits very well on those that do not pontificate to the young, whose definition changes constantly. For Instance, when I hear that someone had died at 60, I think, “So young, what a shame”

    I think the change that we are living through is exhilarating and omnipresent. In politics, sociology, economics, technology, communication, world affairs and it will only become more rapid, more challenging, more engaging.

    What an absolutely wonderful time to live. And moreso, to live in a time like this with the major responsibilities in life like, raising children, running a business and worrying about the well being of your employees passing to others.

    I have sat at this computer for the past 2 years working on a project, totally of my own choosing, that will hopefully change the world for the better. What could be more wonderful.

    I only wish that more of my generation would embrace that viewpoint and involve themselves in the world in more ways than a chorus of complaint.

    One other thing, I whole heartedly agree that the DADT approach to gays in the military should be repealed immediately and that any and all of these social and legal barriers to equality should be expunged across the board.

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