Furthest Right

Why “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a Good Idea

I have shocking news for the American people: categories, while convenient, aren’t the whole story.

For starters, any single object (a toad, a car, you, or I) can belong to multiple categories.

As an example, there’s my neighbor Bill. He is:

  • White
  • Male
  • Gay
  • Republican
  • Cancer survivor
  • BASE jumper

Which category do we use that’s important? We use whatever’s convenient for us, I guess. If someone wants to say something as silly as “All the BASE jumpers go to the left, and all Republicans to the right” there’s going to be a conflict.

It’s the same way in the military.

The military needs to be a hierarchy which aggressively promotes people based on one category: competence.

That is to say that the military, and I if I’m a soldier, want the guy who’s got my back to be there because he passed his qualifying tests with flying colors.

I don’t want him there for any other reason because that could get my precious posteriousTM shot full of holes, or worse.

But when we introduce categories like gay, minority, women and others we create a dual category problem, or conflict:

  • Bill didn’t pass his qualifying exam because he doesn’t have what it takes.
  • Or maybe, Bill didn’t pass because the exam instructor hates homosexuals.

So do we promote him? He’ll sue us if we don’t. And although it is controversial, we know that not every gay person is competent for all roles and duties, so we’ll be potentially promoting people who are incompetent.

Militaries like most highly competitive organizations thrive on a charged atmosphere. You have to be driven to succeed, to exceed yourself (and your fears, although I’m still not jumping out of a plane) and go further.

This only happens when there’s one and only one reason you can get a reward, and one and only one reason you do not get that reward.

While fighting discrimination — assuming we pretend diversity of various forms is going to work — is important because it stops good people from not getting promoted, we’re now seeing the flip side.

Anti-discrimination rules can be used to promote the incompetent, because people who are incompetent can also be minorities, gay, women and so on.

That not only hurts the incompetent who got promoted, but it wrecks the entire system. Now others doubt the value of their qualifications, and don’t trust those around them. Your fighting machine falls apart.

Let’s flip it around a minute and pretend that “don’t ask, don’t tell” applies to Elysians, who are a rare ethnic group who look just like you and me, but can sense magnetic fields.

Under DADT, they can continue to be Elysian, and if they do get promoted, they know it is on their own merit. If DADT is suspended, they are suddenly thrust into these roles:

  • Targets: everyone hates the kid the teacher protects.
  • Doubted: did they get promoted because they were Elysian alone, or are they actually competent?
  • Politicized: now they are expected to stand up for Elysian rights and take on the role of being the informal spokespeople for Elysians, sort of like the way white people ask African-Americans about the general properties of their role as African-Americans.

Gays in the military thrive under DADT. Their identities and sexual orientations remain their own. While we can’t prosecute people for discriminating against them if they find out they’re gay, there’s also no public record that they’re gay for others to use against them. They do not have to represent a gay population. They can be individuals again! And most of all, they know all their victories are their own.

DADT is one of those military policies that our population is keyed off to freak out about because it allows us to see differences between individuals. Yes, children, in the world of science and common sense, people aren’t equal and we have differences. You can’t make conflict go away by ignoring those differences, and by forcing us to ignore them through propaganda/dogma, you’re making the situation worse. But the voters don’t think that deeply, or even deeply enough to see why DADT evolved as a mature although “unofficial” response to a complex situation.

The voters just want easy, pre-chewed, sugar-added answers and they want them right now. Injustice might be occurring, and that thought turns the sofa-bound into a lynch mob in an instant, because they know that they can make angry phone calls for a few days and then it’ll blow over, and they can feel better about themselves because instead of being obese slobs, they’re crusaders for justice!

But if we’re serious about actually helping the situation, and the people within it, the real way to do this is to avoid making them political objects. Stop applying categories to them which complicate their lives; make them, instead, individuals who rise or fall on their own merits. That is the only true justice we find in this world.

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