Sheila wanted to know what I think about the repeal of DADT. I avoid politics here as it’s a dead-end and a waste of time, but basically it’s a dumb idea that will create a lot of problems for the dubious benefit of making yuppies feel good about themselves.
Decent people are supposed to think that homosexuality is perfectly normal and fine, and dislike of homosexuals and homosexuality is the sign of cruel, disordered personality and likely suppressed homosexuality. That’s great but vast numbers of the great unwashed- people not living in the blue cities and the blue states, from whom we draw most of our military personnel- don’t feel this way. For these people, homosexuality is associated with child molestation, bullying, and rape in prison and other institutions.
Are gays nice, if maybe a little flaky, guys in pastel sweaters who adopt foreign babies, like in “Modern Family”, or are they rapists and head cases? The truth lies somewhere in between. As for me I see that happiness and pleasure are fleeting things in a hard, uncaring world. Your personal hell might be 50 hours a week doing oil changes or 70 hours a week in a law office. In any case of you want to have sex with another guy and you will enjoy that then go ahead. Just don’t get AIDS because you will need very expensive drugs for years and that will add to the increases in health care costs that everybody is always complaining about.
In your daily, nice, polite yuppie life, you may know and work with gay people. And they seem normal and nice enough. But the military is not like normal life. Freedom and privacy are limited in the military, even in the cushy support jobs so many military people do. The stress and need for mutual support and assistance demand soldiers be able to bind themselves together in a functional, masculine way. I can’t do this, and I’m not even gay. To the extent gay guys can do this is the extent they can conceal their orientation.
This won’t cause a lot of trouble in logistics, administration or intelligence. In the opening of “The Thirteenth Valley” John Del Vecchio drily notes that the mobility of the helicopter enabled even more jobs for commanders, communications, transport, and support troops, and only one in ten troops in Vietnam was actually an infantryman. That was before the modern age; I don’t know what the ratio is now. These people work in air-conditioned trailers or shaded hangars. They eat in mess halls operated by civilian contractors and staffed by workers from Bangladesh or the Philippines. If they don’t care to eat at the mess hall there is a Burger King and a Dunkin’ Donuts available to them. (If they are Canadian, a Tim Horton’s, no lie.) They have fairly private sleeping areas, hot showers and bathrooms. These troops are more likely to be intelligent, educated and highly trained, and thus indoctrinated in the official position that homosexuality is perfectly normal and acceptable. Their lives are little different from people at home, and for them someone’s gayness is a fairly marginal issue.
All of these people, however, exist for one purpose and one purpose only, which is to support a young man, a high school graduate with a 100 IQ, at least nominally some kind of conservative Christian, be that evangelical or Catholic. He carries a machine gun and a 100 pound pack. He does not sit at a desk, looking at a computer. He doesn’t analyze or organize anything, he doesn’t pick up a wrench or move anything around. He walks for miles over steep mountains or through dense jungles in extreme temperatures. He shoots people, hopefully before they shoot him. He joined out of some combination of desire for adventure, honor, prestige, patriotism, and rustic chivalry that are so strong for young men and that fade over the years into a nostalgic glow, as the strong feeling of youth do. He likely regrets his decision to some degree but is going to see his mission through. All the coddled, spoiled support troops exist for only one reason, to help him do his job, and if he is not there, there is no purpose or reason for them.
He also dislikes homosexuals and homosexuality, not and does want to be in this kind of environment with a gay guy. I think this is largely rational, and to the extent it’s not telling the kind of kid who becomes a combat arms soldier that being gay is perfectly OK and he should just get over it is not going to work. That is if you can even get him to join in the first place. Joining the military- aside from career training and educational benefits- is something young guys do because they want to be macho tough guys. Being a macho tough guy does not include being publicly homosexual. Gays in the military are now and will continue to be mostly support troops, like spy Bradley Manning, with a few in the combat arms who are very straight-acting and very careful to conceal their orientation. But shortly we will be bomabarded with stories about gay SEALs, gay Rangers, gay Special Forces, gay Airborne, gay fighter pilots, and as much as I dread the thought gay Marines. The actual numbers will be limited to the dozen or so that can be found for the article or segment but the damage will be done. The macho mystique will be gone and for hundreds or thousands of young men a career at Jiffy Lube will look like a better option.
Don’t dismiss this- Napoleon said men would risk their lives for bits of ribbon. It wasn’t for the ribbon of course, but for the intangibles the few cents of metal and cloth represented. When those intangibles are gone, the motivation is gone with it. Those intangibles and that motivation is what makes a military.
I was in the coffee shop the other day, surrounded by other people on their notebooks. In my field of vision I counted four Macs and one PC. Until we get the Mac people to enlist, and join the infantry, this is not going to work. I didn’t see any who looked like they would last 50 yards in what a 11B or an 0311 carries. These people no doubt think I’m a horrible, mean person who wants to hurt gay people. But that’s the entire problem with this country, the people who decide have very narrow lives and experiences and are completely intolerant of those of others, while they think themselves worldly and sophisitcated because they have gay friends and have been to Florence.