Sunday, December 07, 2008

Queer Eye for the G.I.


by Jeff Huber

William S. Lind, co-creator of the Fourth Generation Warfare concept and director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism, says a lot of smart things about national security, but he doesn't say any of them about the issue of gays and women in the military. My admittedly limited experience of the gay lifestyle hasn't endeared me to it: my older male dog humps my younger male dog, my younger male dog humps my leg, and I pay all the bills; an arrangement, come to think of it, not so different from my experience of marriage. So I don't, so to speak, have a dog in the fight over whether gays or women should be "allowed" to serve in the military, but Lind makes such a cock and bull argument against it I feel obliged to apologize on behalf of the entire heterosexual male community.

In a pair of recent opinion pieces, Lind asserts that we shouldn't let women and gays in the armed services because if we do, "men who want to prove they are real men will not join."

Lind's relative manliness doesn't necessarily add to or subtract from his opinion's validity, but unnamed sources who knew him when assure me that the closest he ever came to wearing a uniform was dressing his G.I. Joe doll in one.

Gays and Dolls

As one might expect a social conservative to do, Lind laces his positions with a number of intellectual subterfuges, not the least of which is filing gay men and women in the same pigeon hole. The go-to argument against women serving in the military is that they are, on average, smaller and weaker than their male counterparts and they can get pregnant, a consideration that doesn't apply to gay men.

If you think that gay men are intrinsically less physically capable than their heterosexual counterparts, and you want to take a trip to the emergency room, I invite you to walk up to a homosexual member of the American Ballet Theater and call him a faggot. I doubt if there's a segment of the population more physically prepared for direct placement into elite commando training than male dancers. (There are such things as heterosexual male dancers, by the way, and they generally don't lack for the companionship of women who wouldn’t give either Lind or me the time of day).

But there's more required of a fighter than physical toughness, according to Lind. "Throughout history," he prates, "some armies have fought a lot harder than others. The specific reasons vary widely, but one way or another they all come down to human factors." The most important human factor, Lind assures us, "is that men fight to prove they are real men." Their membership in fighting organizations is a "badge of honor" that says, "We're not sissies or pansies. We are men who fight, serving alongside other men who fight." An infusion of sissies and pansies among the company of real men, Lind warns, could damage "military unit cohesion."

Mr. Lind has a selective sense of military history and/or a blind notch in his Doppler gay-dar.

As a carrier skipper I served with said when President Bill Clinton enacted the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, "Sailors have been rubbing heinies since Sinbad reported to boot camp." Soldiers have been sharing pup tents just as long.

The ancient Greeks believed that physical love between soldiers improved morale, bravery and overall battle efficiency. Plato, the philosophical father of the American political right, considered it utter stupidity to ban physical relationships between soldiers. "Wherever, therefore, it has been established that it is shameful to be involved in sexual relationships with men," he wrote, "this is due to evil on the part of the rulers, and to cowardice in the part of the governed."

In a song honoring the Lelantine War, Plato's pupil Aristotle wrote that, "love…thrives side by side with courage."

The Roman historian Plutarch noted that tribal ties were of little value "when dangers press, but a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken."

Lind cautions that gay and straight men can't mix in "very close quarters" without "serous friction." I've got news for Lind: gay and straight men have been mixing in very close quarters in the American military without serious friction since forever, including those World War II John Wayne types that conservatives like Lind have such a school girl crush on.

They're queer, Bill. They're here, Bill. Now drop and give me fifty pushups (heh).

G.I. Jane

The notion of women serving in the military is hardly new either. Plato favored it. He wrote in Republic that women must be taught the "art of war, which they must practice like men."

"Is she capable of sharing either wholly or partially in the actions of men, or not at all?" he asked. "And is the art of war one of those arts in which she can or can not share?" Then "let [women] share in the toils of war and the defense of their country… Only in the distribution of labors the lighter are to be assigned to the women, who are the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same."

Lind's specific objection to letting women serve is that they might be allowed into "ground combat arms." I'm not sure what he means by that. Women are and will be assigned to war zones in combat support capacities. So what? He may suppose that women inherently lack the "right stuff" for combat, but those Israeli Security Force babes who pull the trigger on those remote control machine guns along the Gaza Strip don't appear to be lacking anything in the killer instinct department. If Lind is worried that women will elbow their way into Delta Force, he is, in Plato's words, "plucking a fruit of unripe wisdom." I don't know of anyone who is seriously trying to make women into commandos, or of anyone who would take the notion seriously. Maybe Lind is confusing that movie where Demi Moore becomes a Navy SEAL with reality. Confusion about reality is, after all, a leading occupational hazard of conservatism.

I don't claim that integrating women in the military has been a tribulation-free experience. In my day, the incidence of young single sailor girls getting themselves pregnant to get out of duties they didn't care for was completely out of hand. We developed a pretty good solution though; all the single mommy strikers got discharged and sent home.

I've also known a fair number of female officers who benefitted from reverse discrimination, but not nearly as many as the number of male officers I knew who got where they got thanks to Uncle Admiral or Governor Grandpa or a godfather who had a village in the old country named after him. And never forget that whatever wartime leadership qualities George S. Patton possessed that allowed him to get away with his vainglorious shenanigans, he was also one of the richest dudes in the Army.

Lind's bottom line isn't that women and homosexuals serving in the military will impair America's war making capability. He's concerned about "cultural Marxism," which is a code phrase narrow shouldered white male bigots intone when they sense that cultural Darwinism is about to bust them another pay grade or two down the social pyramid. By Lind's criteria, emancipation was cultural Marxism, as was the ban on feeding Christians to lions.

There may be good arguments for barring women and gays from military service, but Lind doesn't make them, and I haven't heard any that make an ounce more sense than his do.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.

29 comments:

  1. Dave of Maryland2:40 PM

    Mess around with gays & your site will crash. Pat Lang tried it a couple of weeks ago & that's what happened to him. You've only posted a teaser. Not too late to rethink, or, if you must be a fool, back everything up now.

    I could tell you why this happens, but you won't understand four words of it, and I tire of tilting at tall objects in the Dutch countryside.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dave,

    You sound like you have the intellectual sophistication of a slow child. Is that true?

    Otherwise, I can't imagine how you can't see that this is a post that actually supports not only gays in the military but homosexuality in general.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was drafted during the Vietnam debacle, a fact that pisses me off to this day. Anyway, we made our living selling dope to each other and we all lived off base, first one place and then the other, but there was the two guys who always lived together. I realize now that they were gay, but I didn't then. Anyway, the point is, the dope they sold was as good as anybody else's and we all liked these guys and probably would have liked them even if we had known they were gay, so WTF, over.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey, gay guns are straight shooters. Good on you! Er, I mean can shoot straight, er, can shoot as good as women, Hets, the enemy, er, and terrorists know what I mean?

    ReplyDelete
  5. MandT and Jesus,

    Well put, gents.

    Not sure if you remember this, it was my first piece that ran at Military.com from 2005:

    http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,128801,00.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous8:25 PM

    Dave, this is Denise from Maryland and you need to re-read Jeff's post and then if you still don't get it, read his book, Bathtub Admirals--then apologize for getting him so very wrong. I think gays in the military is just the thing--the enemy is so freaked out by sex in general that a little stretching of the strictly drawn lines is just what the doctor ordered. I have often felt that the only true healing of the Middle East will be a sexual healing--to quote my man Marvin Gaye.

    Don't threaten your friends, Mr. Maryland. Re-read before you pull that trigger.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous9:22 PM

    General J C Christian, Patriot, will be grateful for your support Cmdr. Perhaps you can link his site patriotboy.blogspot.com so Dave of Maryland can check it out in a manly manner.

    Heterosexually yours,

    Buzz Meeks

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous2:05 AM

    America is only a few years behind the UK on this one. Well, about 5 years.

    In the UK the RAF have been recruiting at Gay Pride events since 2004. Its been illegal for anti-gay discrimination in the military since 2003, when the Court of Human Rights dragged the British Ministry of Defence position (no gays! not ever! not even in the Navy!) out onto the court steps and shot it.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/aug/27/gayrights.military

    The Army went into the closet, possibly with a Centurion (a tank, but the name link with a classic gay icon is just too sweet), in 2005:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/aug/27/military.gayrights

    The Navy joined up with Gay Rights group Stonewall to advertise for recruits in the Pink Press in 2005:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/feb/21/military.gayrights

    The thinking is that the people at a Gay Pride march are young, healthy and actually interested in spending many months abroad with members of the same sex. Join the military, meet interesting people and shag them.

    Actually, in truth, we're desperate for people to join the armed forces - discrimination is fine in peacetime when no-one really needs the extra shooters, right now if someone has got a pulse, they'll do fine.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the links, Anon.

    Yo, Jeg!

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's all just so damned dumb.

    (The policy.)

    People who are gay, love their country every bit as much as people who are straight. And would serve it just as well.

    I think I would prefer that college graduate gays be allowed to enlist, or that they be recruited ---- before we give guns to gangbangers, and middle school dropouts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Terrific post. You did leave out that Confederate general mentioned in Conduct Unbecoming, who was well known for his passionate bond with his adjutant general; the latter wrote later that he and the general were "close and confidential. I habitually messed with him and shared his tent and often his blankets.”

    Love your site. One thing about the slugline? The literal translation of the Voltaire is much more punitive to the believer of the bullshit: "When we believe absurditis, we commit atrocties."

    ReplyDelete
  12. Chris,

    Glad you like the site, and welcome. Interesting you should bring up the voice of the Voltaire translation. I often think that's one of the great questions of our age: who is more responsible for Bush's follies, Bush or the people who let him get away with it?

    I come down on the side of the main perpetrator. Well, that would be Cheney, but I think you catch my drift. The lookey-loos are culpable, but that doesn't excuse the main culprit.

    Jeff

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  13. Jeff,

    On this issue I have to disagree. There are valid arguments against women in the service and its been proven time and again that single gender units are more efficient, more cohesive and less open to the kinds of baggage that mixed gender units have.

    As for the Israelis-they have actually placed restrictions on what they do with their women and are not as "prgressive" as usually pictured. Read Kreveld's book on the subject.

    As for the gay issue-its about me having to know they are gay that is the problem. Not their presence per se-but I'd prefer not to have to know.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Commander - we might offer the estimable Winston Churchill's comment on the subject - the British Navy was founded on rum, sodomy, and the lash. I think they had a world-wide empire for a couple of hundred years, didn't they?

    As for women - in the Marine Corps, women are statistically better shots then men because they have lower centers of gravity, and less muscle mass. Those physiological factors mean greater stability when producing the site picture prior to firing. Men carry their center of gravity too high, and men have too much msucle, which is not stable.

    SF

    ReplyDelete
  15. Skippy,

    Proven time and again where? Kreveld is not a recognized authority here. As for the gay issue, you just identified it as your problem.

    Anon,

    Thanks for the excellent talking points.

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  16. Heh, and I see by the link thingie that I've "demanded" the military let gays in. I read that guy's post. He has knuckles where neural synapses belong.

    ReplyDelete
  17. If Creveld is not an authority-you don't know one when you see it. His book Men, Women, and War is pretty authoritative if you ask me.

    Women in the unit do undermine unit cohesion and make things harder than if it were men only. That's neither required or desired. I don't care what the women want-they can excel in arenas that benefit both them and society-and that is not the military. Women are supposed to be the civlizers of our species.

    I side with Lind.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well, if you agree that real men fight to prove that they're real men, there's not much we have left to discuss.

    As for Kreveld, he looks and sounds to me like he's afraid of both men and women.

    And oh, where do I make an argument--in this piece anyway--that women belong on front lines or in commando units?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Why not go into the way back machine and visit WWII Russia,the city of Stalingrad home of the women snipers. One of whom-still alive as far as I know-had more than 100 kills. The Russians used women soldiers thruout WWII.
    Now we see women helo pilots-Army along with AF and Navy fighter pilots. Altho there was an incident back in the day when an unqualified woman crashed an F-14(I believe) while attempting to land on a carrier.
    In today's military the difference between combat and non combat units has blurred. Recently a female Army medic was awarded the Silver Star for actions in A'stan. Women helo pilots not only fly Blackhawks but also fly combat helos.
    As for gays in the military, they have been around forever and those who do not believe this have been wearing blinders their entire lives.

    ReplyDelete
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