Bil Browning

Cindy Sheehan on DADT Repeal

Filed By Bil Browning | January 04, 2011 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Cindy Sheehan, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, human rights abuses, peace activist

In an op-ed written for Al-Jazeera, peace activist Cindy Sheehan lets loose with her opinion on the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. While she is supportive of LGBT rights, she echoes some of the opinions of Bilerico contributors who've worried that fighting for the right to kill brown people halfway around the world isn't exactly a way to advance human rights.

200px-Cindy_Sheehan_edited.jpgWhile I am a staunch advocate for equality of marriage and same-sex partnership, I cannot - as a peace activist - rejoice in the fact that now homosexuals can openly serve next to heterosexuals in one of the least socially responsible organisations that currently exists on earth: The US military.
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Championing equal rights is an issue of morality, war is immoral, and the US military is heading further and further down the path of immorality... The only difference being one can now admit their orientation without fear of official recrimination - a major boon for the equal rights movement! The capacity for increased carnage should not be celebrated as a victory!
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Don't equal human rights extend to those that the Empire has mislabeled as the "enemy"? Or do we now have to ignore the fact that innocent people are being slaughtered by the thousands?
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I want to bang my head against a wall when another young gay person commits suicide as a result despicable bullying, yet people within the same community have fought hard for the right to openly join the biggest bully ever! Don't go, don't kill!


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So the Republicans could have pushed thru a few hundred billion more in unnecessary, unwanted military spending if they'd just thrown in the towel on DADT.

I'm glad they didn't think of that.

While I agree with the overall sentiment of "Don't go, Don't kill!", I think she's missing the forest for the trees. This was never about the right to serve or not. GLB(T?) people have served in the military since it's foundation. DADT (and the laws before it) didn't change that, it just changed how they served, and how they lived while serving.

This was about having the right to acknowledge being gay without fear of losing your job and/or the work and effort you put into your career. If the US government can discriminate in it's largest hiring pool, what makes anyone think that the civilian efforts (like ENDA) will ever pass?

This was a needed square one, one that was easier some ways to accomplish because of the nature of the organization. There will be no onslaught of gay recruits. If they were interested enough to join, they were probably interested enough to delay that part of their life and are already enlisted. All that will happen now is that they if they come out, or are discovered, they don't have to fear expulsion from that one fact being known.

Thanks for posting this, Bil.

As one of those TBP contributors who's written critically about DADT, I hope this makes readers, straight and gay, realise that there are different forms of principled opposition to the open inclusion of queers in the military.

Sheehan makes it clear that she doesn't condone discrimination and that's not really the crux of her argument.

In some ways, the repeal now leaves the field wide open for greater and more intense conversations around the meaning of DADT and the inclusion of gays. Where the gay mainstream could, for years, hide behind the discrimination issue, it can now be asked more squarely and clearly: as a queer/LGBTQ community that claims to be liberal and sometimes even claims to be left, what are your more nuanced and principled positions now on what is meant by our inclusion in a war machine?

http://www.yasminnair.net/content/dadt-and-silence-silencing-queer-anti-war-voices-5-february-2010

The Against Equality website also features a host of critical pieces and art on the issue:

http://againstequality.wordpress.com/military/

God bless Cindy Sheehan! I've felt much the same way for years, that I'd much rather have LGBTQ friends at home with their families rather than shooting brown people halfway across the world.

Or, as I often put it, "I don't support having gays in the military, but then, I don't support having *anyone* in the military!"

My experiences are solidified from my time in Iraq, and continue largely today, though I spend more time counseling veterans as well as families of currently deployed soldiers.

While I support her right to an opinion I think it is misguided. If you want to blame someone don't blame the military blame the civilians that control it.On the flip side using Afghanistan as an example of a place of where if the people had control of themselves and their government we'd have no reason to be there. They chose to allow the Taliban to come power, they allowed the terrorist a safe place to plan the 911 attacks.In most every country I've ever heard of it's the civilians who make the weapons of war not the military.The military as ugly and as evil as some of you would like to paint it serves a valid purpose when used properly and sometimes that purpose includes killing civilians.I think if you want to protest against the horrors of war the best people to put the blame on is civilians because it is all there fault.I hope some of you will join me in protesting the protestors who blame the military when obviously it's all their fault because they are civilians.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 6, 2011 12:58 AM

Stop trying to excuse mass murder by the Pentagon brass. The role of the civilian government and the military leadership, from the heads of the JCS down to the lowliest lifer is clear. Both, plus the military industrial complex are partners in an empire building mashine that's the prime enemy of world peace and of the people of the world.

They're coequally to blame for genocide in Vietnam and Iraq and mass murder of civilians in dozens of countries. Not including dozens of wars of genocide against real Americans the US has engaged in wars, declared and undeclared, hundreds of times. (1) In addition the US has forces in 150 countries (2) on 761 military bases ringing the globe (3).

The US military leadership is no more excused by the "I was just following orders" excuse than were German military and WaffenSS units who said that in 1945. And yes, that is an accurate and apt comparison.
---------------------------------------
German military, air, naval and security staffs were indicted for:
Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace
Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace
War crimes, and
Crimes against humanity (4)

We need to explain why enlistment is a terrible mistake, demand a Congressional Medal of Honor for PFC Bradley Manning and fight for the convening of an International War Crimes Tribunal to investigate events in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Iraqi province of Kuwait and Yemen.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments
(3)http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/bsr/BSR2008Baseline.pdf
(4) http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/nuremberg.htm

Sorry, Cindy... things are not always as black and white as that. There are wars that are just and yes... some that are not.

My dad and his generation went to war to protect The United States and the rest of the free world from the tyranny of a few "rogue" nations, led by pathological madmen.

They went to war only after we were first attacked on our own soil at Pearl Harbor, by the official military armed forces of Imperial Japan. At the same time, on the other side of the world, our allies and in many cases our own personal relatives still living in the nations of many of our origins, were under attack by the official military armed forces of Nazi Germany, led my Adolf Hitler and his evil henchman.

Both of these were enemy nations which, in every measurable way, were led by morally inferior leaders. Leaders, who were intent on using assembly-line genocide to rid the world of certain entire groups of completely innocent, scapegoated peoples, who they saw as inferior (i.e.; those who were more intelligent, successful and far more civilized than themselves.)

That, IMHO, from the standpoint of the United States was an irrefutably just and necessary war.

My generation, on the other hand, was being forced to fight in what I considered to be an unnecessary, unjust war... one in which we were clearly the aggressor, and for reasons other than our direct national defense.

Some of you younger folks may not know that during the years of the Vietnam war, college students were exempt from the draft... a whole separate subject of gross injustice in itself.

In 1964 at the age of 19, having only weeks earlier dropped out of college, I received a draft notice in the mail. However, being gay, I used my homosexuality to my great advantage and against the best efforts of The United States government.

When called up for the draft, one was required to show up at an induction center at a specific time and place.

Upon arrival at the center, one was required to strip to one's "tighty-whities" and be put through an extensive physical exam (which I must confess, to me, was kinda hot!). ;)

Immediately after completing the physical and still only wearing our underwear, we were required to fill out a form on which we were required to tell them some (what they considered to be) pertinent personal information.

When I got to the infamous question asking, "Do you now or how you ever engaged in homosexual behavior", just as I had previously planned to do, I checked the "Yes" box.

All who did this, were told to grab our clothes and were quickly ushered into a separate room where we were ordered sit down and wait to be interviewed by an officer.

When my turn came, I was told to get up and knock on the closed door across from the bench on which I'd been sitting. Having done so, I heard a loud voice shout "Enter". I entered and took the seat next to the desk which was occupied by a very large hunk of a man with a crew cut and a forced-looking stern look on his face.

He looked at my paper work, then looked up at me and barked, "how do I know that you're really a cock sucker?" I looked at him and, without skipping a beat, I loudly answered, "would you like a demonstration, sir?"

Looking somewhat taken a back, he grabbed a red pen, quickly scribbled a large 4-F on the front page of my paperwork and I was out the door back in the waiting room, sitting next to my pile of clothes.

Within 10 minutes, I was dressed and on the bus... waiting to be driven back to my home town on Long Island, some 30 miles away!

I actually didn't mean to go through this entire story but hey, it's 4:45 A.M., I'm sitting here at the keyboard sipping a cocktail and, well, you know...

Meanwhile, here we are in 2011, involved in another very controversial war.

The difference is, now, there is no draft and if one of our brothers or sisters chooses to do the bidding of our sometimes misguided, sometimes overly aggressive nation in the name of protecting the safety rest of us... they are, for better or worse, free to do so.

Personally, I'm extremely comfortable with my choice, lo, those many years ago, to use the system against itself to serve my principles, and at the same time... save my ass.

However, I refuse to judge those who, today, choose a different path. I applaud the fact that they now have the right to make whatever choice they feel best suits their needs and/or principles, of their own free will...

Meanwhile, here we are in 2011, involved in another very controversial war.

The difference is, now, there is no draft and if one of our brothers or sisters chooses to do the bidding of our sometimes misguided, sometimes overly aggressive nation in the name of protecting the safety rest of us... they are, for better or worse, free to do so.

Why don't the Iraqi people get that choice? We don't have a draft here in the US so there aren't any involuntary war veterans, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and millions more have been displaced, while the rest entire population has just lived through a war, and something tells me they wouldn't have chosen that outcome if they could have.

Actually the Iraqi People did have that choice, but that choice came when they choose the government and officials which eventually lead TO that war. Many will argue that there was no "choice" merely because there wasn't a vote when nothing could be further from the truth. Every single day is a choice, you can either acquiesce to the Powers That Be and allow them to make the decisions for you or you can stand up and fight back. At one point or another everyone must choose to either resist or simply allow others to make your decisions for you.

I think your implication is that Saddam's actions made war unavoidable, but I think that most of us were living in a different reality at the time.

Alex, I was and still am 100% against the decision to invade Iraq. I can't see what I said that led you to believe otherwise.

Bushco lied! Purely and simply... they lied! They're war criminals and should receive the exact same punishment that was given to Saddam Hussein and his sons.

This was a fantastic story thanks for sharing it.

Hell, it should be its on post here at Bilerico! Who knew that was how it worked back in the day.

Thanks.

You're welcome capitalistpiggy...
The story about the day at the induction center is kinda fun to tell. The only thing that would've made it a richer experience for me, would have been if the interviewer had allowed me to go through with the "demonstration"! :0

Aubrey Haltom | January 5, 2011 10:43 AM

I'm not really clear on what Cindy Sheehan is saying. She cannot "...rejoice in the fact that homosexuals can now openly serve..."
Does this mean she would prefer the DADT standards? Is she ok with the @ 13,000 plus servicemembers being discharged for being homosexual? Would she prefer homosexual servicemembers 'not tell'?
Does she not feel the same about other minorities?
Should they be allowed to serve openly?
And what about those heterosexuals (including her son)? Why draw a distinction?
The issue with the military is a broader one that isn't restricted to gender, orientation, race.
I understand that certain people are taking an opportunity to make a point.
And I agree that s broader dialogue needs to occur regarding the place of the military, the purpose of our military, etc...
But advocating discrimination, even as a provocative, rhetorical device, doesn't seem the best way to further this conversation (imo).

Cindy Sheehan is pretty much a single issue antiwar activist, so her perspective is pretty much "anything that hurts the military is good, anything that helps the military is bad". She doesn't outright support discriminatory policies such as DADT, but she's also opposed to repealing DADT because it makes the military stronger.

Bill like it or not the military serves a purpose as does the US Government.You may prefer to sympathize with our enemies but don't expect me to or for every LGBT person to. Some of us have pride in our country ugly history and all.The war in Afghanistan is justified even if our actions that led up to it weren't.We as a nation can not afford to allow foreign nationals to hi jack planes and fly them into our buildings and not strike back.Your attacks against all military personal both active duty and retired is ignorance at it's highest level.