Monday, December 20, 2010

DADT Repeal: Its Double-Barreled Significance

Ahem, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, thank you for coming today. I have a statement from the Director for you regarding the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Then we'll be happy to take your questions and comments.

Statement by Chuck Fager, Director of Quaker House, Fayetteville NC, on the repeal of DADT:

I've been calling for repeal of DADT for some time, and welcome it.

This change has two important effects, I think:

First, it will enable thousands of present and future soldiers to pursue their careers on their merits, which is only as it should be.

Second, beyond these individual cases, repealing DADT strikes an important blow to the identification of war with masculinity, with heterosexuality, with America, and all three with God.

This identification is idolatry, pure and simple. But it is all too widespread in American Christianity, and it is way past time for it to be broken up.

Ending DADT will move that breakup forward.

Thanks be to God, the Congress, and the White House.

(And a special thank you to the one reporter who actually did call, and keeps this from being 100 per cent self-indulgent.)

And in another vein, a few days ago a Friend wrote:

Chuck, Am I the only Quaker who is conflicted about this legislation to eliminate Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell so that it will be easier to recruit and keep non heterosexuals for the US military machine?

My reply, which I'd like to share:

I haven't heard from any other Quakes about this recently, but I expect you're not alone. Indeed, I feel some of this ambivalence too, but come out clearly in favor of repeal.

Sure, I'd prefer that nobody signed up. But beyond the matter of respecting personal choices, and believe me, some people (gay & straight) really love being in the military - there looms the issue of the military as one of the major cultural (and religious) bastions and icons of American homophobia.

Breaking through that, in my view, has implications far beyond whether a few thousand LGBT folks get to sign up openly. It punches a gaping hole in the institutional support system for religious and cultural systems that identify masculinity with war, hetero with masculinity (yes, I think this is 99% about males), America with both, and God with all three. To me this is a big freaking deal.

So I can understand your ambivalence, but at the end of the day for DADT, all I can say is:

Onward Christian LGBT soldiers. In Quaker parlance, if thee feels thee must wear that sword, then wear it as long as thou canst, and as what thou really are: out and proud. Be ALL that thou can be.

But one thing more: when thee has second thoughts about WAR, as distinct from being gay, give us a call at the Quaker House GI Rights Hotline, 1-877-447-4487. We've been there for you during DADT, and we'll be there after it's gone.

1 comment:

Bill O'Connor said...

Chuck, thank you for "zooming out" on this and bringing us the big picture. One thought - how about Jewish service members?