Dan Riehl, conservative blogger extraordinaire, has a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell post-mortem. Mr. Riehl assures us that he is not much of a “culture warrior,” then demonstrates that clearly you don’t have to have a lot of experience to fight the culture wars well.
Not being much of a culture warrior, I haven’t paid much attention to this issue. But then, I don’t pay much attention to people’s sexual preference in the first place, unless it concerns me, somehow! ; )
Enough of that. There are two things about Mr. Riehl’s post that disturb me.
First, Mr. Riehl believes that the DADT repeal creates a slippery slope into a military obsessed with politically correct hyper-sensitivity with the aim of achieving a progressive “utopia.”
It may be a year, or two – but eventually we’ll start hearing, there aren’t enough gays in the military! Well, obviously, it must not begay-friendly enough. Time to do something about that. Recruiting and basic training will likely be seen as the place to start. We’ll just add those costs to the military budget already under attack from the Left. What’s the harm in that? We’ll just have to trade some number of missiles for missives, as long as they’re politically correct.
Of course, there will be incidents and reprimands, along with the required sensitivity training. Do military uniforms allow for cross-dressing, by the way? Eventually, someone, somewhere who’s all about LGBT, is likely to want to know about that, despite it having little to do with sexual activity, or even preference, in some cases.
The end result?
However one views it, what was once viewed as having one primary purpose, to kill people and break things, now has another overlay upon it – a political agenda, more than an actual goal – thanks to progressivism, no real friend to the military in the first place. How that all plays out remains to be seen. But play out it will as the progressive Left and Right continue their march toward utopia.
Hurrah! Some of them may eventually get to march in pink fatigues! That drab olive green really is a tad tacky, don’t you think? Oh well, just scratch another missile, or three – we can’t have GIs wearing the same old thing, year after year. I mean, really!!
And this last quote really gets at the second thing that bothers me. Mr. Riehl forgoes the opportunity to even end strong by saying something that I am sure he finds funny and clever but really is just slander. Not that any of his argument is particularly persuasive outside of its raw emotional appeal to individuals like Mr. Riehl himself.
I engaged Mr. Riehl on these two issues here. I think, in hindsight, including my value judgment with my empirical concerns was a poor choice, because it seems to have muddled the debate, as evidenced by Mr. Riehl’s invective-filled replies here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. For the record, I absolutely maintain that Mr. Riehl’s posts are both disturbing (because they are indicative of a prominent world view) and bigoted (because they propagate irrational antipathy toward a group). If his post and our dialogue isn’t enough to convincingly make that case, see Mr. Riehl’s Twitter feed, or this gem.
Mr. Riehl’s visceral, reflexive rage does his partisans no good. Yet as passionately as he forwards this argument, it is as tired and trite as any other diatribe from the social conservatives. Everything “progressive” is just a slippery slope into some awful dystopic false-utopia. I can be made amenable to any argument, but I am certainly not amendable to it sans any kind of rational indication that it may be true.
And evidence is conspicuously lacking. The closest example to the repeal of DADT is the racial integration of the military, which occurred half a century ago. I don’t think much bad has resulted from that, or that Mr. Riehl would even say that was a bad idea. I am not aware of an affirmative action program for the military, or that any of the other things that Mr. Riehl alleges in his post are likely down the road actually materialized following integration. Mr. Riehl dismisses me merely by saying that it is wrong for me to think that “gay=black.” Unfortunately, I don’t think that. The gay experience is different in many ways, although the black experience is instructive (and regardless, the best proxy) of the effects of ending forms of discrimination in the military. But even if I did think gays and blacks were categorically the same, Mr. Riehl again offers no rationale for why I would be wrong.
And, of course, Mr. Riehl fails to address the tradeoff question. Even if gays successfully get pink fatigues and sensitivity training introduced into the military — as he seems to fear — is preventing that worth ossifying institutional discrimination in the one occupation that is supposed to be open to every American citizen? Or maybe Mr. Riehl doesn’t find that discrimination heinous.
The culture wars are alive and well. Mr. Reihl can have them. The gays will be fighting the ones that matter.