Wednesday, September 22, 2010

By request – my thoughts on yesterday’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell happening…

A certain Twitter follower asked me for my thoughts on the Senate’s failure to move forward on a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell yesterday.  Well, that’s just not something I can express in 140 characters or less…and Lawd know I don’t want to be one of those Twitter people who sends 20 tweets to make one statement (wince).  So, I’m going to share my thoughts here…and then maybe tweet the link!

Shall we?

America is always having an identity crisis and we're sure as shit having one now.  From the national debate of immigration, to the continuing debate over whether to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to the outbreak of intolerance and hatred toward Muslims…we are a society struggling to live up to our founding values even as some try to re-write what those values are.

We’ve been here before.  In many ways, this is how American society moves forward…painfully, reluctantly and through embarrassing public displays of ig’nance. 

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) needs to go. 

There are LGBT Americans serving in the military and there have always been LGBT Americans serving in the military.

We need not wonder what a repeal would do…many of our allies have already done away with their bans on LGBT people in service and, as a result of our coalitions in current wars, many Americans are serving along side LGBT service members who are not limited by DADT.

But the resistance to repealing DADT isn’t about the logical…it’s about politics and votes and pandering to the segment of Americans who respond positively to politicians who deny LGBT people equality.

Just as some respond to anti-Muslim statements...just as some respond to anti-immigration propaganda…we are a society struggling to be true to our founding values even as some try to re-write what those values are.  

And don't even get me started on how we became a nation while not being true to the values we proclaimed at the time...shit.

Pause...sip water...continue.

Yesterday’s failure is not an end any more than a repeal of DADT is an end.

Of all the walls to LGBT equality currently on the table, DADT is the one I’m willing to bet is going to fall in the next few years if not sooner.  Then the segment of Americans who would deny LGBT people equality will cry out in protest…and politicians who seek their votes will ratchet up the homophobic rhetoric…and what should just be will painfully become after a series of embarrassing public displays of ig’nance.

It’s moments like this that make me wonder how we look to the rest of the world - walking around pounding our chests over how we’re the best and we’re the nation where people are free and we’re #1…USA, USA, USA!!!

...even as we demonstrate intolerance, hatred and fear of the other coupled with a willingness to withhold justice and equality...even when our actions make our cheers of greatness and freedom damn near laughable.

But we’ll get there.

It won’t be pretty, but it will be.

And then we the people will have arrived at the beginning…again.

Our identity crisis continueth…


Stella said...

"It won’t be pretty, but it will be."

Well said, thank you. Slowly we evolve.

J9 said...

I see your point, and I agree, but wish it weren't always such a fight and struggle to be free...
But I do have a follow up question. As you see this being a lessening strugle in the future, what do you predict will be the next great struggle for equal rights? Or do you just see us as spiraling back to the ongoing issues?

NC17 said...

Great blog. I couldn't agree more!

Shark-Fu said...

Good question.

I predict that this will follow the same pattern as the civil rights movement in the 1990s - military deseg. was followed years later by more nuanced civil rights and ultimately the protected vote. The reason the opposition is trenched in on DADT is that they know visibility leads to greater understanding and puts pressure on the system to clean up the rest of their oppressive bs.

As demonstrated through other movements, the struggle toward equality is never ending - I liken it to a beautiful yet fragile old building in need of constant maintenance and repair.

And yes, it is cheaper and easier to maintain than to fix...but Gawd forbid we ever learn that lesson...

MeganC said...

I completely agree with your analysis of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Homophobic, racist, sexist, or otherwise "ignorant" policies like DADT only exist (or existed) because someone stood to profit from them. Some powerful politician realized it was a lot easier to gain allies (votes) by invoking fear or creating a common enemy than by advocating for beneficial policies that could potentially shift the status quo.

These politicians have seized upon society's fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. They have motivated people to support an America where "freedom for all" is really just a commercial slogan followed by a lengthy disclaimer.

It is unfortunate that acceptance, recognition, and rights are often so difficult to obtain in the "Land of the Free." If the civil rights movement and the women's suffrage movements are any indicator, the battle for LGBT rights will be a long and hard-fought battle.

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