Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and a Scary Speculation

The Law of Unintended Consequences might be about to strike.

Well, the forces of lefty libertinism and debauchery have at long last triumphed, defeating the last remaining major holdout in American culture.  The defeated lame-duck Congress, with President Obama's enthusiastic support, has repealed the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law which declared open homosexuals to be ineligible for military service.

Progressives, as their name implies, view this as the inevitable march of progress.  Conservatives lean more towards feelings of certain doom, but looking at the polls, the Democrats would appear to be on the side of the people.

In concentrating on their own base, though, both sides are overlooking essential details and the lessons of history, which could - could - potentially lead to devastating consequences.

Majority Doesn't Always Rule

Welcoming homosexual soldiers with open arms, Democrats are making two major assumptions:

  • that the American people support their view that homosexuals are no more problematic than anyone else and belong in the military too, and

  • that the soldiers in the military will suck it up and do as they're told, regardless of their own personal feelings on the matter.

On the questions as stated, the Democrats are right.  Any number of polls demonstrate that a majority of Americans do, in fact, believe that homosexuals should have full rights and respect for their behavior; and two hundred years of history strongly argues our military's dedication to civilian authority.

The first point is irrelevant except politically.  While political advantage may be the only thing Democrats care about, it is not the only source of power.

No doubt if we polled Americans asking "Are you, personally, willing to risk your life today to kill America's enemies?" a majority would answer "No."  Would that justify eliminating our military?  Of course not!

The whole point of a volunteer military is that each and every individual in it freely chose to be there.  America is the land of individuals; some people want to play Rambo where others would rather be Barbie.  In a free country, that's the way things ought to be.

If you aren't in the military yourself or involved in civilian political authority, however, who cares how you think the Army ought to be run?  Far more important is what our actual combat soldiers think; and on this matter, their opinion is clear:

Cross-tabbed data displayed on the 2010 DADT Survey website indicate that among Army combat arms personnel, 21.4% would leave sooner than planned, and 14.6% would think about leaving–a total potential loss of more than a third (36%) of those valuable troops.

Marine combat arms would be weakened even more, with 32% of Marines saying they would leave sooner than planned, and 16.2% considering an early end to their careers, totaling almost half.

Our population is perhaps 1% active homosexuals, the vast majority of whom have no interest in military service.  How are the ranks of the alternatively-lifestyled supposed to replace between a third and half of current troops who do not wish to share the intimacies of barracks life with ogling homosexuals?  The military has enough problems with illicit relationships between opposite-gender troops who are normally segregated into their own housing units.

Will the military obey orders?  Of course they will - but, as the polls make clear, only as long as they have to obey before they can leave the service.

So far, this starts to look like yet another lefty plot to destroy our military as a fighting force, and perhaps it is.  Yet the left has overlooked another truth: the Federal government is not the only military authority in our republic.

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William County, plans to introduce legislation in the 2011 General Assembly that would make DADT the rule in the Virginia National Guard...

In a written statement, Marshall, a conservative Republican who was the sponsor of the bill that banned gay marriage in Virginia, said allowing openly gay people to serve in the military "will weaken military recruitment and retention, and will increase pressure for a military draft.

"After 232 years of prohibiting active, open homosexuals from enlisting in our military, President Obama and a majority in Congress are conducting a social experiment with our troops and our national security," Marshall added.

His bill would continue barring actively and openly gay people from serving in the Virginia National Guard.

This particular bill may not pass; the governor says he opposes it.  There are, however 50 states; when half the states are suing over Obamacare, it's not hard to imagine that some might choose to go their own way regarding homosexual soldiers as well.

And then what?  Let's indulge in some rank speculation, based on a few reasonable assumptions.

For State or Country?

It's a fact that a majority of Americans don't mind homosexuality, at least when it's not shoved in their face.  It's also a fact that the majority of Americans who are interested in military careers do mind homosexuality, a lot, partly because they know that in the intimacy of barracks life and in combat, it will be shoved in their faces.

What would happen if we have a politically-correct, homosexual-friendly (which, in today's political climate, means homosexual-promoting) national military, coexisting with certain state National Guards run according to the old school?  Obviously, many of the most effective and dedicated would-be soldiers would gravitate to their state militias instead of the federal army.

For decades, enlistees have intentionally been mixed around so as to avoid having entire units from one geographic area.  This has made for an effective and unified force, but it also was a precaution against civil war.

In the runup to the Civil War, federal military units were divided by state origin of their members, making it relatively easy for the Virginian divisions to join the South and the Massachusetts divisions the North.  If they're all mixed together, this is much harder.

If your best soldiers are in the state militias, however, they are already divided up by state - and if conservative fears are correct, the national military might become a bloated, bureaucratic, and ineffective fighting force as we see in so many European countries.

We've looked with concern on the ever-increasing gulf between the political left and the political right, the vast and irreconcilable differences between them, and the fact that many on both sides hold the other side's views to be treasonous and deadly to the Republic.  Yet an actual civil war seemed difficult to imagine; the national army is a unified force, splitting it would be exceptionally difficult and messy, and there are no state-level leaders used to having a real military to run.

By repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Left may inadvertently have removed this anti-civil-war protection.  It will take years for the full consequences to be known - but if it comes to a fight between the First Virginians and the San Francisco Gay Blades, we're betting on the former.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

One of the more annoying aspects of media in America is that it almost always starts discussions by accepting the premises of the radical left. Just look at all the premises that this article accepts:

1. 'the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law which declared open homosexuals to be ineligible for military service' promotes the near-universal effort in the media to suggest that DADT put in place a ban on homosexuals serving openly in the US military. Of course, homosexuals have always been banned from openly serving. DADT was really a continuation of the existing unofficial policy of letting homosexuals serve so long as they kept their sexual behavior to themselves.

2. "but looking at the polls, the Democrats would appear to be on the side of the people" Looking at what polls? Do the majority of Americans *want* to let homosexuals serve openly in the military? I haven't seen any poll that indicates that the American public are asking for this change to be made. There have been some polls, including the survey of military personnel, which were designed to produce results that could be spun to indicate that Americans are indifferent or think that the military can learn to cope, but I have never seen anything to indicate that there is a grassroots desire for the change to be made. Which brings me to the next leftist premise:

3. The author accepts without mention the idea that it is up to the opponents of the change to "prove" that the change would cause problems. Why should the burden of proof be placed on the opponents of making the change? Serving in the military is voluntary and, contrary to the absurd talking points of some on the left, being able to serve in the military is neither a Constitution right nor even a civil right. Why should the default debate position be that homosexuals get their way? Why should a sliver of the population be able to impose their values on the military?

4. "Any number of polls demonstrate that a majority of Americans do, in fact, believe that homosexuals should have full rights and respect for their behavior" What planet does the author live on? The majority of Americans believe that homosexuals should have respect for their behavior? Get out of your media cocoon, Petrarch. Homosexuals claim all sorts of rights that most Americans oppose. Most Americans don't support openly homosexual school teachers, boy scout leaders, clergy, allowing homosexuals to adopt or serve as foster parents, giving special legal protection to homosexuals in the work place, teaching about homosexuality to school children or redefining marriage. That's why homosexuals have had to have their agenda promoted and advanced by people who can largely ignore public opinion, the media, the entertainment industry, the courts, radical political organizations, arrogant incumbent politicians and unelected bureaucrats. Most Americans don't want homosexuals actively persecuted, but they also don't want homosexuality promoted as acceptable.

5. "It's a fact that a majority of Americans don't mind homosexuality, at least when it's not shoved in their face." Once again the author buys into the sales pitch promoted by gay sympathizers in the media. Ask most Americans if, all other factors being equal, they would prefer not to live next door to a homosexual and the answer you get is ... who knows? The media never asks that kind of a question. And don't give me the very popular current talking point that the youth of America don't mind homosexuality. That talking point is derived from polls of high school kids. Kids are conditioned in public schools to expect that they will be rewarded when they regurgitate whatever a person in authority has told them is the "right" answer. The educational system is owned by the left and kids have been taught to express positive sentiments about homosexuality on tests (i.e. polls), but they still use "fag" and "queer" as perjoratives when they are not being "tested".

December 22, 2010 4:42 PM

as someone who served in the Navy in the 70s, my own experience is.. what's the deal?
No one in my division was homophobic or subscribed to some cult wherein even non-believers were subject to scorn and hate— of being not in their belief system, let alone eating pork or being heterosexual.
The rest can mind their own business.
Yes we shared showers that had curtains, and three tier racks– with curtains.
No one got raped, molested or otherwise bullied because of their beliefs or preferences.
I suspect the author is engaging in a bit of baiting, and seeing who bites:– such intellectual cowardice belies his need for comfort, and I certainly will not offer him any.

December 22, 2010 5:03 PM

Your first paragraph is disappointing. Sexual orientation is not related to fighting ability. The ancient Greeks are an example.

December 24, 2010 1:26 PM

@ michael tomlinson

the Athenians were reffered to as "boy lovers" by the Spartans at a time were Greece was a collection of city states. We all know who won the pelopenisian war and who defended all of Greece with 300 men while Athens burned to the ground.

January 3, 2011 8:18 AM
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