Alex Blaze

War is inherently anti-gay, but....

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 22, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Afghanistan, bisexual, Don't Ask Don't Tell, iraq, James Kirchick, Joe Lieberman, lesbian, lgb, LGBT, military

Homocon James Kirchick was justifiably excited to score the interview with Joe Lieberman in which the Senator confirmed that he plans to cosponsor DADT repeal legislation (go him), but keep that rocket in your pocket, Kirchick! It's unbecoming.

Adam Serwer points out Kirchick's bizarre statement that Lieberman sponsoring DADT repeal is frustrating and perplexing to liberals, and hilzoy wonders why Kirchick said it was "the most significant piece of socially progressive legislation that Congress will deal with this year." Significant, yes, but the most significant?

But this part stuck out to me in particular:

And - this is me speaking - can one think of a better way for homosexual-hating, diversity-fearing Islamofascists to bite the dust than at the hands of openly gay American Marines?

Is there any aspect of our culture that is sicker than this juvenile urge to kill people (specifically Muslims) without any regard to whether they've actually done anything against us, and to want to do so with such glee and gusto? He's talking about real human beings being sent halfway around the world to fight against other real human beings, in a conflict that has resulted in piles of dead, stinking human corpses, yet it sounds like he's recounting a video game he played or a movie he saw. Aw man, it was so awesome when Team Rainbow just blew those Islamofascist fuckers' heads off! Awwwwww yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaah! There's like blood everywhere!

Not to mention that Kirchick, for all his jouissance at the idea that gays will soon be allowed to kill Muslims, will most likely not sign up for the military service should DADT get repealed this year. He's a fairly obvious chickenhawk who will have even more fun cheering on war and violence from the comfort of the seat in front of his computer, but would never even dream of actually enlisting to be one of those "openly gay American Marines" who can kill Muslims.

I'm sure in thirty years, though, this will be a much more common line of argument. While the US is making slow and steady progress on identity issues and eliminating discrimination against groups that are able to convince everyone else that their identity is immutable, one thing that's still unquestionable in American politics are our wars and military culture. Who knows, I might even get a nasty-gram from SLDN just for writing this post. And I don't see a movement developing with any likelihood of success that will displace America's elite class's need to invade countries.

One of the key justifications for war in both Iraq and Afghanistan was the fact that we were supposedly going to improve the conditions of women in those countries. Forget the fact that the folks making that argument generally didn't much care about improving the lives of women in this country, it was a cynical attempt to convince people that there was a clear, identity politics-based reason to hate this other group of people out there, half a world away.

Kirchick's either being snide or sarcastic, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to imagine the neocons of the future (or whatever they'll call themselves) accusing another country of being "diversity-fearing" and "homosexual-hating" as an excuse to invade them. And it'll probably work, as I'm sure there will be no shortage of peoples who will be downright despicable to gays in the future. But the irony of violent, pro-war patriarchs discussing the need to use our military to save gay people's lives will be plenty obvious to a few of us, but pointing it out will be futile. Some people just love reading about war in the newspaper.

That said, it's good that someone's going to sponsor this obvious piece of legislation. It'll be fun to listen to journalists tell us how it's great that someone with "national security bona fides," who just so happened to have been wrong about every major national security decision this country has made in the last decade, is taking up the issue of gays in the military. Because even though he was wrong, he was wrong in certain fashionable and violent ways that only increase his credibility on national security issues.


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One of the key justifications for war in both Iraq and Afghanistan was the fact that we were supposedly going to improve the conditions of women in those countries. Forget the fact that the folks making that argument generally didn't much care about improving the lives of women in this country,

Not only that, but refugee problems, widespread death and disease and the horror of war don't do much to improve the lives of women (or gays--or anyone for that matter). And the situation for LGBTs has gotten worse in Iraq--because of the conditions caused by the war. So it's a pretty transparent canard. The repression and invasion of countries actually reinforces homophobia and so reinforces the dichotomy between West and East on this issue, which the homocons (and others) like to crow about so much.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to countries like Honduras, where the right-wing coup regime actually made things WORSE for gays, the homocons are nowhere to be found. See http://www.towleroad.com/2009/12/lgbt-activist-walter-trochez-shot-to-death-in-honduras.html.

"And the situation for LGBTs has gotten worse in Iraq--because of the conditions caused by the war. ... The repression and invasion of countries actually reinforces homophobia and so reinforces the dichotomy between West and East on this issue"???

And your evidence, documentation, professional research for this would be__________? Please fill in the blank with something other than the logical fallacy "post hoc ergo propter hoc."

Thank you.

Here you go:

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/09/15/iraqs-new-surge-gay-killings

And keep going in that search on the HRW website - you'll find more material. Just type "gays in Iraq" in their search engine. While you're at it, just try googling "gays in Iraq" in the google search engine. That should do it for more on the web. Even gay magazines in the U.S. have caught on to things, and they're generally more conservative and, frankly, imperialist. You should also be able to find lots of material on sites like that of IGLHRC.

Also try Joseph Massad's U of Chicago book, Desiring Arabs for a more detailed history of sexuality in the Middle East vis-a-vis the West's imperialism. It's an interesting and engrossing read.

Wa has a nasty habit of destroying the social equlibrium of entire countries. Isn't that why people wage war in the first place?

In addition, the LBGT community in Iraq is subjected to systematic targeting in Iraq. This is
being done by Sadr and Badr militias and the Iraqi police resulting in extreme harassment or
death for LGBT individuals who are not able to flee the country.

Actually, from what I know of the civilian conditions in Iraq, the local GLBT population was small and closeted to begin with. The actions being taken by local militia’s against anyone just even suspected of being GLBT is just horrific. Some die quickly, most die slowly. A few have managed to become political refugees. They’re getting hit from both all of the Muslim and Christian factions.

I constantly worry about my GLBT friends that are in Iraq and Afghanistan. One reason for me to push DADT repeal (and I really don’t care who does it so long as someone does do it) is so that the military does finally accept them and gives training to all troops so my GLBT friends no longer have to worry about being left behind during a patrol just because they’re GLBT.

And war? What is it good for? Since when has war ever been a good for anything? No one wins in a war. Look around here and our economic situation. Do you see?
NO ONE WINS IN A WAR.
No one ever really has won except the munitions manufactures and the grave diggers.

Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | February 23, 2010 2:55 AM

Sorry you couldn't follow the rule: no "after this therefore because of this" fallacies.

Does HRW have undisputed figures about gay harassment in Iraq before the invasions [which I agree were war crimes on the part of the US ] versus after them? Would anyone call the situation for gays in Iraq before then "social equlibrium"?

We haven't invaded Iran or Egypt and, yet, gays and lesbians are fleeing their "social equilibrium" whenever they can as documented in "A Jihad for Love."

http://www.ajihadforlove.com/home.html

Sorry, but you're not a high school teacher assigning a task to your students here. The issue is: is there ample documentation that life for gays in Iraq is significantly worse? The research in every source indicates yes. You can't choose to ignore the research undertaken by a major human rights organisation because, well, it's just not convenient to do so in this case.

And it's worth keeping in mind that harassment and persecution take different forms. The fact that many gays do leave Iran or Egypt does not automatically mean that gays are not being harassed in Iraq or that gays were not being harassed in Iraq prior to the war.

And I'd read more about gays in Iraq for a fuller story of what it was like for them - and women - prior to the invasion.

But I suspect you won't, so carry on, then.

Do you have any evidence to contradict Yasmin? You're asking everyone who disagrees with your argument for their evidence (which, when provided, somehow isn't good enough), but you're not exactly presenting much evidence to back up your side, either.

Also, what's with the mention of Iran and Egypt? While I can't say that I believe that those two countries are great places to be queer, on what grounds are you basing your assumption that the situations there are good parallels to pre-war Iraq?

I disagree that war is inherently anti-gay. It is anti-life. I think that's an important distinction because it's the notion that war is anti-[any specific group] that gets us in trouble.

Kirchick's obscene war fantasy jumped out at me too. And it is fantasy...the idea of gays killing people he perceives to be anti-gay. And that's why, as I said, it's the notion that war is anti-[any specific group] that gets us in trouble.

For a long time there wasn't that much support shown for gays serving in the military. There were so many gays that were just anti-military and didn't think gays should serve in the first place. Or it was just thinking that gays ought to boycott the military for having an anti-gay policy instead of trying to change the policy.

But now I think most know it's a personal matter of career choice. And it's much easier to be anti-military during times of peace because it seems like we don't need them. Now that we're at war we just wish we didn't need them.

There is a difference between being anti-war and anti-military. For without the military we would have no peace.

Neocons seem to think that if we aren't at war, we're wasting our military by not using them. Which is as absurd as saying the Fire Department is being wasted if there aren't any fires to put out, so lets start a fire so firefighters have something to do.

Neocons seem to think that if we aren't at war, we're wasting our military by not using them. Which is as absurd as saying the Fire Department is being wasted if there aren't any fires to put out, so lets start a fire so firefighters have something to do.

Right on.

Thanks for this article. I think one thing also important is how Kirchick's quote shows how Muslims, especially terrorists, are seen as homophobic, patriarchal hetero men, as if there are no queers (or intragender sexual/romantic relations) among Muslims. There is some good scholarship going on in regards to how sexuality functions in the War on Terror, and Jasbir Puar's book Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is a great example of this. She shows how queers often take up Islamaphobia as well as nationalism [and more detalied how "terrorist bodies" (and "terrorist look-alikes" become queered, but not queer in an acceptable Western way]. And other people have shown this as well (I can give some citations if anyone is interested) in how (white) queers use homophobia as a tool to attack Muslims (and to advance xenophobia or imperialism). And while most cases cited are from Europe (UK, Netherlands, Germany) I think Kirchick, shows how Americans try to prop themselves up as a wonderful queer-loving, tolerant nation, despite the queer/trans-bashings that happen every day. We often try to justify our imperial exploits in the Muslim world, by saying we are liberating women and I guess now we think we are liberating Muslim queers, despite the fact that women soldiers get raped in the military, women civilians get raped by soliders, AND there have even been stories of soldiers raping Iraqi boys. Not to mention as Yasmin points out, the situation in Iraq for gays, shows how empty this rhetoric really is.