Yasmin Nair

Today We Are Not Celebrating: Don't Ask to Fight Their Wars

Filed By Yasmin Nair | September 21, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, military

mrfish_dontaskdotell-500.jpgAs the policy of DADT, which barred gays and lesbians from participating openly in the US military, expired yesterday we don't find ourselves celebrating. Instead we are trying to imagine what a renewed, multifaceted anti-war movement could look like while busily plugging away on our latest archival anthology of writing and visual culture that critiques the prioritization of overturning DADT as well as gay and lesbian investments in militarism more broadly.

We hope that this anthology will serve as a historical reminder proving that not all us queer and trans folk were banging on the doors of the war machine begging to be rainbow colored cannon fodder. We also hope it will serve as yet another starting point for imagining other futures without war (including the material conditions that make wars "justifiable") and conjuring actions that will bring us closer to that reality.

The anthology, Against Equality: Don't Ask to Fight Their Wars, features writers like Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Kenyon Farrow, Tamara K. Nopper, Erica Meiners, Therese Quinn, Bill Andriette, Jamal Jones, yours truly, and more!

The book will be available in late October from our distributor, AK Press.

Image by Mr. Fish (clowncrack.com)


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I must have that Anthology! Is it possible to send me an email when it does come out? Or put a notice on Bilerico? P.S. I Love the poster as well!!

Just to make it clear then, Yasmin, you would not have supported LGBT participation in responding to the Japaneese Attach on Pearl Harbor? Are you an absolutist on this or do you have some kind of reasonably framed criteria (understandably presuming against any LGBT military involvement) that would allow for some exceptions?

Or if US troops served in UN peacekeeping missions?

Or when National Guard troops aid natural disaster victims?

I have mixed feelings about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. I am glad that discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military is hopefully ending. I am disappointed that trans folks are once again left out.

I also think back to when I was 18. I grew up Mennonite. Most Mennonites believe that joining the army and participating in war is wrong. My grandfather - who was a conscientious objector in World War 2 - helped me register for the Selective Service as a conscientious objector - I wrote on the form that I was opposed to war of any form. The idea was this might help if the draft were to ever come back.

I find it ironic that 20 years later, after transitioning, I couldn't join the army if I wanted to.

When I was younger, I judged people who joined the military. I believed what they were doing was wrong. Although I am still opposed to war, I try not to judge anymore. We make different choices in life and there are many who would judge my choices. My hope is that the military will become open to both LGB and T people and that those serving in the military can do what they can to promote understanding between peoples rather than violence.

Or if you woke up one morning and saw North Korean tanks rolling up the middle of Halstead Street? Or a Pakistani nuke flying over Lake Michigan and headed for the Obama family's Chicago mini-mansion?

I'm pretty much a pacifist, but I don't know how one could see the abuse and mistreatment that queer people in the military have endured under DADT and conclude that the policy should remain in place.

I fully understand the ambivalence that most pacifist-leaning folks have in this area, be they for religious (eg: Mennonite) or ideological/political/other (eg: LGBT) reasons.

What I do have is a problem with the idea that simply being LGBT automatically has to be in lock-step witth being anti-military. There is a least some role, in my opinion, for uniformed service in a defensive and protective posture. Otherwise if hoards of people from elsewhere screaming "death and destruction to the faggots and the trannies" come from air, land, sea, from cyberspace or wherever, what's the answer? Hopefully it is something more than a Rodney King look-alike waving a rainbow flag at them and saying "can't we all just get along?".

I am not a pacifist, but you have that right. However, I do not understand why you believe that intolerance should be allowed to continue because you hate war and violence DADT was itself form of violence based on hate. I assume you opposed both.

I feel there is a fundamental flaw in reasoning here. Actual numbers of soldiers matter little now when fighting wars. Superior technology is what allows a side to win modern wars. What we should be protesting, if one is really a pacifist, is the amount of research being done into newer and more inhuman ways of fighting, along with the ridiculous amount of money being spent to continue military operations in Iraq/Afghanistan.

The small percentage of LGB individuals who will now be able to openly serve, will change little and will not make the military more brutal, more deadly, or the Unites States a more imperialistic country. These are the problems we should be protesting, not LGB people serving in the military.
-Jeremy

Not so sure I agree with the thought that superior technology, and not numbers of combatants (conventional or not) makes the difference in winning modern wars. Were that so we would have been out of Afganistan within a couple of days after we went in.

Actually we "won" in both Iraq and Afghanistan long time ago. The previous governments (Taliban and Saddam Hussein) were disposed of shortly after the invasion began. What we are doing now is more "hostile occupation" not "fighting a war" in the conventional sense.
-Jeremy

I think the celebration here is about ending a discriminatory practice that incidentally also kept LGB Americans from being able to make the decision to do things that you disagreed with. Now they have absolute freedom to do or not do things you disagree with, such as killing terrorists and civilians.

America was already in an unofficial war with the Axis powers before Pearl Harbor even took place.

Roosevelt's administration supplied arms to the Allies and financial aid to Britain and China. It provided aid to countries fighting Japan and Germany with the Lend-Lease Act.

Pearl Harbor was Japan's response to these actions, and the event gave FDR the excuse he was looking for to officially declare war.

Neither the Korean War nor the Vietnam War were justified because national security was not at stake.

Our meddling in the internal affairs of countries in the Middle East played a role in 9/11. And our invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere has created far more terrorists than we have destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have killed in the process.

As a result of these actions, our country has come closer to becoming a police state than probably at any time in our nation's history.

So yes, FUCK the military!

So many commenters miss the point. It is one thing to join the military to defend your country however the last time we did that was some 70-75 years ago.

Since then our military has been used to further the interests of American business and corporations.

I would gladly pick up a gun to defend America from Fascism or Nazism. To put more money in the pockets of the rich corporations... Not a freaking chance.

It is easy to see the dangers of Fascism, 75 years on. However, I guess you missed the fact that the opposition to war and foreign adventures in the the 1930's was predicated in part on the profits of munitions industry, which were rich corporations.