Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gay Cooties vs Terrorist Mojo

Many Americans are willing -- even proud -- to break the law, to abandon our fundamental moral underpinnings, and to engage in practices pioneered by the Spanish Inquisition and refined by Stalin's secret police and the Gestapo, all in the name of keeping the nation Safe From The Terrorists. But we haven't lost all perspective. Some prices just aren't worth paying, not even for Safety. The price, of, say, allowing openly gay linguists fluent in Arabic to serve in the military. Better a city incinerated by a suitcase nuke than that.

I wish I were making this up, but:

"Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice today that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television."

Two possible conclusions:

1. Some people hate gays more than they love life itself. More, even, than they value the lives of their own children.

2. Torture isn't really about safety. It's about something else. Because surely if we're willing to torture to be safe, we could manage to rub shoulders with a gay or two, as well?

One thing that's interesting in all this is the supernatural powers rightists ascribe to the things they're afraid of. We can't imprison bearded terrorists in US prisons because they might break out and wreak havoc upon the land! We have to discriminate against gays -- apparently literally at all costs -- because gayness is so potently communicable!

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Gay cooties: even stronger than Terrorist Mojo. On the fear scale that obsesses the right, that's really saying something.


Elise Logan said...

Oh noes! I caught the geh from your blog! (do you get the toaster for that?)

Seriously, though. I'm going to defer to Benjamin Franklin on this one: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

That sums it up for me. I'm not willing to abjure my liberalist (note small 'l') principles because people are scared. We should be better than that.

Rene said...

There has been a constant erosion of the Constitution in the name of public safety.

For example, the police preserve a crime scene to they can collect evidence for prosecution but they have no obligation to preserve the crime scene so the defense can collect evidence. You're presumed innocent but not really.

People joining the military right out of high school carry the high school attitude about homosexuals along with them into the military.

You would have to change attitudes while children are growing up and it is doubtful parents are going to go along with that.

Given the opportunity, prisoners have a few categories of people they kill to build their reputation.

It is more likely the terrorists will be the ones needing protection.

We're civilized but not really.

Anonymous said...

Don't ask don't tell is awful and dehumanising. Here in Australia gay people serve openly and equally in the military. What is it with the Americans?

I looked for Fault Line at my bookstore in Sydney yesterday and didn't find it - they carry your John Rain books. Do you know when it is coming out here?

Anonymous said...

That was an interesting point, Barry. I am going to have to jump in with Elise's comment and note how Ben Franklin hit the nail on the head.

In Denmark, gays also serve openly alongside non-gays in the military and in the police. We have given them absolutely equal rights and we were the first country on earth to grant them legal marriage. Gays are, mostly, respected and are, mostly, not discriminated against. Naturally there will always be some people out there with an axe to grind, but here they're few and far between. Thank god for diversity.

I would rather work with a gay man than, say, a recovering drug addict, alcoholic, ex-criminal, terrorist or any other category of man the US apparently put higher than those who are differently inclined sexually. Man, I don't get it, but can tell you I have many a gripe with the American mentality about sex...

David Terrenoire said...

There are so many things that I don't understand about Americans and that's after living here for close to six decades.

An added wrinkle to the torture news came to my attention yesterday. According to a Pew study, the more often you attend religious services, the more likely you are to condone torture.

WTF are they teaching in those churches?

Anonymous said...

Society is too open about what happens in the bedroom. They call it intimacy for a reason. Nobody needs to know what happens under our roof or behind closed doors. The immature population among the "minorities" just love to scream for the attention. It's embarrassing to the rest of us.

This is something in common with politicians. All the blustery grand standing is theater. ;)

A little self control would be refreshing. It would also solve most of the 'problems' experienced at work, in public, in relationships, etc., but that's not satisfying and we're all about what feels good.

No politician, anywhere, is worth our trust. All parties are corrupt and all participants in the political theater are just cheerleaders and popularity whores.

Robin said...

This is definitely where you see the insane consequences of unexamined ideologies, isn't it?

In a bizarre way, though, this appears consistent -- albeit whacked -- to me. First you have the mythologies of masculinity that infuse the military. Is it the film version of "Full Metal Jacket" that contains that scene in which the soldiers assemble their guns in a provocatively sexualized way?

Anyway, you have all of these phallocentric undercurrents in military culture, which are then connected to a strong masculinization of military power (I realize I'm eliding a slew of issues covered in great detail by literary and cultural theorists who have extensively analyzed the sexualization of of war and the military) and a need for extreme male bonding (even among the military women, or sometimes at their expense).

And that combination of sex and masculinity is expressed in an environment that's still like 80% male, which creates anxiety about the homosocial nature of military culture (i.e. what are the allowable uses of homoerotic bonding) becoming *homosexual* (egads!). Which results in an overt banishment of gay soldiers, because god forbid all that homosocial/homoerotic acculturation should be taken *literally*!

So while it's truly perverse, I think the continued marginalization and demonization of homosexuality in the military is part and parcel of the military's own use of sexualized and gendered bonding techniques, combined with the further connection of masculinity to strength, which then hits that whole 'fear of gayness when in the presence of terrorism' madness.

Kelly said...

The Don't Ask Don't Tell policy came in under Clinton and now the great Barack has been in office that hasn't changed? What a surprise - just like another campaign promise that won't come to pass - just like closing Gitmo. Don't you all love change...