Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ask, tell

Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed. President Obama is supposed to sign this into law tomorrow. This is an amazing thing. I have been a little frustrated looking at this thing, this Facebook, over the past week or so since the news of this first hit, but that's probably what I deserve for wasting my time on Facebook. I have read too many of my queer friends broadcasting through their status updates how they think that this is horrible, that this is bad news for gays, and other such nonsense that people with certain privileges are capable of believing.

This is amazing news for several reasons. Chief among them is that the Department of Defense is the largest employer in the country, that this is a recession, and that pondering the ethics of US militarism from behind a computer in the city of New York is not an option for a great many people that need to live. And because you don't agree with American militarism does not mean that gays should not have the option to serve in the military available to them. The illogic and the absurdity of this argument really baffles my mind, the lack of solidarity when confronted with discrimination with the brunt of law behind it, that there are people, gays, that honestly wanted a law that discriminated against a group of people left in place. That should be the issue of concern here - that there is a job (irregardless of what that job is or our feelings toward it) that people are being told they cannot do because they are gay, that people are fired from because they are gay.

Now, we can talk about how sad it is that the job market is so weak in so many parts of the country, or about how the way cities and suburbs are developed often encourage low-paying employers and chain stores to build there, or about how crazy it is that this is the largest employer (or about how the largest private employer is Wal-Mart). We could talk about all of these things and should, but in this instance, the issue is that a group of people are being discriminated against when it comes to employment (the means of providing for one's self).

Another problem (a huge one for the future of our democracy) is that higher education is so expensive, that the only available method for a great many people to pursue it is through ROTC and the requirement of serving a couple years in the military after graduation. But now little fags and dykes will have that same opportunity available to them to go to college even if they didn't get scholarships, even if they don't have rich parents, even if their credit is not good enough. This is called fairness.

Finally, though, and of most interest to me are the cultural implications of this. Racial integration of the military was ordered by Truman in 1948. Brown vs. Board of Education wasn't until 1954. The military and its huge population is capable of advancing cultural change. There are currently 1.4 million people on active duty in the military. That is a huge number. There are a lot of red-state people in those numbers. There are a lot of tough, homophobic men in those numbers. These people will now have to tolerate and work with open homosexuals. This is another step in the direction of tolerance for gay people and this is a step that some very red corners of this country are going to be forced to take. This is of huge importance and I think it is really easy for New York faggots to lose sight of what this means for people living in other parts of this country when they write snarky Facebook status updates linking to a New York Times article about the Senate voting to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This does mean a lot for a great many people and means a lot for the future of a great many people (and yes, I am becoming more aware that I have said the expression "a great many people" far too many times in the course of this blog entry). I am really ecstatic about this news.

There is a lot of bad news out there, lots of things that frustrate me and make me throw up my hands and mumble to myself (no longer to heaven) about how it's all going to hell, how the world is doomed, and this here is an instance, one of the rare ones lately, where it seems like the arc of the moral universe does, in fact (in beautiful fact that inspires me with hope), bend towards justice.

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