Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

A Fine Romance: Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Lieutenant Dan Choi

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | August 05, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: Amy Goodman, assimilation, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Dan Choi, Democracy Now, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Equality March, gays in the military, Universal soldier

I never thought I would start crying while listening to an interview with Lieutenant Dan Choi, the Iraq war veteran who recently received notice of his honorable discharge from the US military for publicly acknowledging he's gay. AmyGoodman.jpgBut here I am, crying. I'm watching Democracy Now, and during a break in the conversation the show is broadcasting images of Dan Choi at various actions in favor of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

"Universal Soldier," Buffy Sainte-Marie's classic antiwar song, plays in the background. While Sainte-Marie sings, "And he knows he shouldn't kill/ And he knows he always will kill/ You'll for me my friend and me for you," Dan Choi is pictured in full uniform saluting a crowd at the National Equality March, removing tape from his lips to declare:

We love our country, even when our country refuses to acknowledge our love. But we continue to defend it, and we continue to protect it, because love is worth it. Love is worth it! ...But when we're telling the truth about our love, our country slaps us in the face and orders us, "Don't ask," and orders us, "Don't tell." Well, I am telling you that the era and the time for asking is over. I am not asking anymore! I am telling! I am telling! I am telling...because in the face of injustice and the face of discrimination, patience is not a plan. In the face of discrimination, silence is not a strategy.

I'm crying because here is one of the most widely broadcast antiwar news programs in the country, camouflaging Dan Choi's pro-war rhetoric beneath the lyrics of St. Marie's Vietnam-era anthem. Dan Choi's Equality March speech is elaborate in its rhetoric and pageantry, yet in the end it asks us to believe that the vicious wars of US imperialism are for "love." Democracy Now welcomes this rhetoric into antiwar struggles, simultaneously hiding the pro-war stance and aggrandizing it. This is completely contradictory. You can't fight against war by arguing that gay soldiers should be able to gun down Iraqis openly.

When Choi tells us that "in the face of injustice... patience is not a plan. In the face of discrimination, silence is not a strategy," what does this mean about his silence regarding the unjust wars the US is continuing to wage in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his involvement?

Dan Choi declares on the August 4 Democracy Now broadcast, "We all know that America's promises are not manifest yet, so long as gay or transgender people are getting kicked out of their workplaces, fired for telling the truth or expressing who they are." No kidding -- and America's promises are not manifest yet (except, perhaps, the "promise" of Manifest Destiny), as long as the US continues to bomb at least two countries into obliteration and fund who knows how many other atrocious wars around the world.

But Dan Choi tells a very compelling coming-out story:

I came back from Iraq. And many times when I was sitting in the barricade areas within the compound or in my Humvee, I thought to myself, when am I going to get along with my life, get along with the truth, reconcile who I really am from what I've been pretending to be? And many times I would spend alone in Iraq, many nights I would be very contemplative. I came back from Iraq, and I decided that it's not worth it. I could have died at any moment in the area that I was, in the Triangle of Death. Why should I be afraid of the truth of who I am?

Do you see what he's saying? While in Iraq participating in the slaughter of innocent civilians in a war for oil, he had the chance to contemplate his closeted sexuality, and when he came back to the US he decided that remaining silent about his gay desires wasn't worth it. How many Iraqis died in order for him to express the "truth of who I am." What about the truth of the war? His biggest worry seems to be this: "I've wanted to go back to Iraq and to Afghanistan, but then I thought, if I die in Afghanistan or Iraq, then would my boyfriend be notified?" Did you hear that? He's not worried about dying in an atrocious war, or killing innocent civilians, but about whether his boyfriend will be notified.

Amy Goodman, rightfully renowned for routinely exposing the viciousness of US imperialism, can only ask: "Dan Choi, what was your mother's reaction?" Really -- is Dan Choi's mother's reaction to his coming out really the most important story here?

In its eagerness to jump on the bandwagon in support of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the antiwar left becomes complicit with US wars. These reporters can't get past their joy at finding a gay struggle to support, in order to step back and realize, wait: maybe this particular gay struggle is contrary to everything I supposedly represent. That's the nightmare of assimilation we're living in -- add "gay" to any reactionary goal, and the liberals will jump on the bandwagon, but the founding values of gay liberation -- fighting police brutality; challenging US imperialism; ending oppressive institutions like marriage and the military and organized religion; and creating personal autonomy for sexual merrymaking outside of conventional norms -- nope, we rarely hear anything about those queer values.

So let's get back to talking about the right to openly serve in the US military. The closest Democracy Now gets to talking about the war in this particular segment comes when Goodman asks, right at the very end of the interview: "Dan Choi, if the law was changed and you were able to return to Iraq or Afghanistan, how would you feel about the war then?"

Choi responds:

Well, my feelings on the war and my responsibility to speak out against unjust wars and illegal wars and immoral wars, that certainly wouldn't change. But, as a soldier, there are certain responsibilities, particularly in war. You put all of the politics of why you're there aside, and you focus on accomplishing the mission in the most moral and the most, I think, effective way, so that you can get yourself, as well as your soldiers--and your soldiers first--alive back home.

Aha -- but what unjust and illegal and immoral wars does he mean? Apparently not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or perhaps he's ready to speak out? We won't find out on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman offers no follow-up question. Even when Choi contradicts himself in the next sentence, and says "you put all of the politics of why you're there aside, and you focus on accomplishing the mission." Oh, right -- politics aside, get the bombs ready!

The end of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" goes like this:

He's the universal soldier
And he really is the blame
His orders comes from
far away no more.

They come from him.
And you and me.
And brothers can't you see.
This is not the way we put an end to war.

We should all pay closer attention to this particular message: complicity is not the way we put an end to war, indeed.

Mattilda is most recently the author of a novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, and the editor of an expanded second edition of That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, and also blogs at

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Frankly, I'm not at all surprised that Amy Goodman gave Choi such a bad interview. Democracy Now! has virtually totally ignored the LGBT community and our issues for the entirety of its existence. It's only now they're jumping on the bandwagon, and as poorly as Goodman's lack of experience and knowledge about LGBT people and issues would lead one to expect.

Another late-to-the-party progressive trying to pretend they were with us all along. Hopefully, the next time Amy Goodman decides to cover us she'll do her homework first.

Good point, Rebecca -- really about the whole left in general -- although it always makes me sad to see gay assimilationist drivel on Democracy Now because so much of their coverage is so amazing -- on Haiti, the Gulf, New Orleans, police brutality in Chicago, etc.

But then, when it comes to the gays, it's all about marriage and the military -- but wait, what about ending marriage and the military, which would see more in tune with the rest of Democracy Now's programming -- maybe one day...

Mattilda, Mattilda, Mattilda! Beautiful!

Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!

I concur.

And this is classic Mattilda, at her finest:

"Did you hear that? He's not worried about dying in an atrocious war, or killing innocent civilians, but about whether his boyfriend will be notified.

Amy Goodman, rightfully renowned for routinely exposing the viciousness of US imperialism, can only ask: "Dan Choi, what was your mother's reaction?" Really -- is Dan Choi's mother's reaction to his coming out really the most important story here?"

"Classic Mattilda, at her finest..." -- well, I'm loving these comments today!

The Queer Agenda and the LGBT Equality Agenda are very different and your article highlights that. I'm not sure I understand the attack on Dan Choi in that context.

Dan Choi chose the military. He decided to become part of the military and therefore he had to do what our country decided for him. While it may be easy (and cheap) to dismiss that, that is how it works. If you don't like that - attack the system, not the soldier.

At the same time I do not believe Dan Choi is a soldier. He quit the Army in 2008. In 2009 he joined the NY National Guard for $350 a month. Shortly after that he appeared on Rachel Maddow's Show and "came out." In the following months he blamed DADT for "destroying his career," a career he quit in 2008.

After his GetEQUAL stunts and the failed suicide attempt (by starvation) we have learned that he has been making $10,000., plus expenses to give speeches or attend Pride celebrations. He has tried very hard to become a celebrity in order to justify his fees. It's disappointing.

WQhen Choi quit the Army in 2008 we do not know what was going through his mind. Why he joined the NY National Guard is an interesting inquiry. But, blaming him for wars we shouldn't be fighting is ignorant. I don't know Choi's heart. But, I would never question his original decision to protect our country. I do question his motives after he quit the military. Those are relevant questions. Choi should answer them.

Andrew, you are so right that Dan Choi chose to become part of the military -- it was a career choice, indeed -- a career that involves becoming part of the US war machine (and fighting directly in US wars), and for that he must be held accountable.

And yes, I do agree about his publicity stunts -- quite successful, it seems, as he has become a certain kind of celebrity in pro-military gay circles (and, now, it seems, among certain misguided antiwar leftists as well) -- and, as you point out, this has become quite profitable for him. While you question his motives after he quit the military, I question his motives all along.

Paige Listerud | August 6, 2010 2:44 AM

I hate to be cynical, but I think part of Dan Choi's success is that he is such an articulate speaker.

The other part of his success is that he appeals to a certain need for expressing traditional masculinity in more conservative gay circles. He can be offered up to the mainstream media, as if saying, "See, we can be smart and many; do our duty and stand by our country as much as straight guys in the military."

Never mind that most straight and LGBT military personnel joined to find an easier avenue to college and a decent-paying career.

Promoting a pacifist position about Iraq and Afghanistan actually might make him too femme to be a spokesperson for Gays in the Military.

By the way, I am totally for the repeal of DADT.

Paige, you're right that he is a very compelling speaker -- and, quite adept at incorporating pageantry into his performance.

Manly pageantry, that is -- you are so right about this:

"The other part of his success is that he appeals to a certain need for expressing traditional masculinity in more conservative gay circles. He can be offered up to the mainstream media, as if saying, 'See, we can be smart and manly; do our duty and stand by our country as much as straight guys in the military.'"

And this:

"Promoting a pacifist position about Iraq and Afghanistan actually might make him too femme to be a spokesperson for Gays in the Military."

Thank you!

Paige Listerud | August 6, 2010 2:47 AM

Oops! I meant "manly", not "many".

I imagine Mattilda that most regular Democracy Now viewers would have picked up on the interplay between Lt Choi and "Universal Soldier". By interviewing Choi in that way, Amy Goodman makes Democracy Now relevant for the mainstream lgbt person and then exposes them to the show's peace message.

Challenging Lt Choi on US foreign policy is kinda like closing the gate after the horse gets out of the pasture. If we want to eliminate Dan Choi's job, we need start teaching cross cultural studies in kindergarten. If we want to end war and marriage, we need to get on our local school boards.

On the other hand, maybe you can talk to Amy about putting on a panel discussion with you and Dan?

thanks for the article.

Greg, I would love to be on a panel discussion with Dan Choi on Democracy Now -- spread the word, for sure...

Now, as for your analysis of the Universal Soldier interplay, because there was nothing in the interview actually talking about ending the war, using the song in that manner actually serves to erase the pro-military messages of Dan Choi, and falsely incorporate that rhetoric under the banner of antiwar struggle.

I would like to think that most Democracy Now listeners are sophisticated enough to pick up on the hypocrisy of the struggle against Don't Ask Don't Tell, but since I can think of no example on the show when it has been critiqued from an anti-assimilationist queer angle, I'm not so sure

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 6, 2010 5:53 AM

Choi is audacious, persistent and militant and he has it out for the bigot in the White House - everything I admire in an activist. But there's one little problem I can't get around. His goal, as he readily admits, is to be complicit in the murder of independence fighters from Palestine to Pakistan. That pretty much negates whatever good he claims to be doing.

PFC Bradley Manning is the real hero here. He's joined by hundreds of other antiwar GI, sailors, air crew and marines who put their lives, freedom and careers on the line to oppose Obama's war machine. According to AmericaBlog reports PFC Manning was "arrested and detained in Kuwait. He appears to have been denied access to independent counsel and held incommunicado outside the country. Reports also indicate that criminal investigators are looking to identify individuals who may have facilitated his leak. . . . [I]t seems hard to see how Manning can mount a meaningful legal defense. [T]he heavy-handed tactics which are being applied against him are mystifying displays of asymmetrical legal warfare."

PFC Bradley Manning stands accused of leaking this must see video of Iraqis and journalists being murdered by the US military. They're going to crucify him.

We cannot allow that to happen. This is a perfect time to unite the antiwar and GLBT movements in an effort to Free PFC Manning. We should do what we can to build large LGBT contingents at antiwar actions, involve the antiwar movement in our work and tie it together with a campaign to free PFC Bradley Manning.

Bill, absolutely -- if Bradley Manning is, in fact, the person who leaked those documents, he certainly should be hailed instead of imprisoned. It's frightening to see the way in which the Obama administration is seeking to clamp down on Wikileaks for revealing war crimes, instead of actually investigating the crimes.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 6, 2010 6:10 PM

He's only accused of leaking the video at this point. I'm not aware of anything else.

The Obama Administration's re-invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is the real crime and they'll never investigate that.

We need to mount a strong defense for Manning.

As for Choi and others like him we should say:

Don't enlist!

Don't fight!

Don't translate!

While I believe that the United States should not be in Afghanistan and Iraq, both because of the slaughter of civilians and the damage to the US financially and morally and socially, I do not fault young people who are sold on military propaganda and bought by the wage-slavery that supports it.

What the US is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq has been addressed separately by Democracy Now, and that is a separate issue from the damage the US military has done to the hundreds of thousands of young gay people it purchased.


As someone who's watched students be forced to join the military for economic reasons and what you rightly describe as "wage-slavery," I agree that many young people cannot be faulted for joining.

But not everyone who joins is sold on the military propaganda - one of my students who joined was a pacifist and a critic of the war, but saw no other choice. The likes of Choi, who did not join out of economic necessity, go into the army precisely they are sold on the war, while millions of their counterparts targeted by the military, poorer and usually of colour, resist and refuse the presence of the military on high school campuses. Here in Chicago, Senn High School was the site of such resistance when the local Alderman and the mayor decided it was okay to turn an entire wing into a military academy - students and their parents put up fierce resistance and, sadly, lost, due to the machinations of Chicago politics (what Mayor Daley wants, Mayor Daley gets).

I work with youth organisers who work on social justice issues within the Chicago Public School system - and I think it's a disservice to them and other youth to assume that young people are all of the same mind and are incapable of critically evaluating the choices put in front of them. Most of these students could teach Dan Choi a thing or two.

There's a tendency, especially in the queer community, to depoliticise youth. While we ought to recognise that age (or lack thereof) counts for something, I don't think we should stop holding them accountable for their politics or conflate those who are sold on the military's propaganda with those who are bought by the military (and, yes, there may well be youth who are both sold on the propaganda and compelled to join). I don't fault people like my student who are in the army because there was nowhere else to go, but I certainly distinguish them from the likes of Choi. And Mattilda's post is not about Choi as a frightened teenager in the war - he's a West Point graduate and 29 years old.

Yasmin, thank you for this layered analysis, indeed!

I was waiting for someone to bring up Bradley Manning, and I may get around to writing a post about how LGBT people have thrown him under the bus (if only I could get a few more quotations instead of widespread ignoring).

Related, I was reading a post on a generally progressive site that I don't usually read on Bradley Manning. The site was the same sort of progressive Democratic ideology that Daily Kos, etc., trade in, so they're against the wars and for LGBT rights.

The writer, though, was clearly worried about Manning. He had a few quotes from rightwingers saying that Manning leaked those documents to Wikileaks because he was mad about DADT, calling Manning a traitor, etc. The writer's solution? We need to focus on and sell the fact that there are plenty of gay soldiers (like Choi) who serve the country honorably and professionally, that defend our freedoms, yada yada yada.

All I could think was that Bradley Manning (if the DADT and leaking allegations are all true, which isn't certain) is one of the reasons DADT can be good: it takes normal soldiers and shows them what their country really thinks of them. The others can keep on lying to themselves as they get used as cannon fodder that the pols who talk a big game of "supporting the troops" actually care about the troops' lives.

As for Choi himself, I like this line:

But, as a soldier, there are certain responsibilities, particularly in war.

You got your discharge papers, Dan. You're not a soldier and you don't have those responsibilities. Take a stand for peace.

And I'll temper my language: Not "LGBT people" in the first paragraph, just some.

Good point,Alex -- although I would say that soldiers have those responsibilities (to take a stand against unjust wars), too...

Oh, wait -- I just realized that you and Bill were pointing out the fact that Bradley Manning is gay -- actually, I had no idea until now! An interesting angle, indeed...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask a question.

I agree that war is wrong. I'd love to see an end to the military industrial complex too.

But will war end if we continue to exclude some people from the job of being a soldier?

And what's the mechanism to weigh the importance of all aspects? Should discrimination be forgiven or looked over? I mean, if the utmost goal is the higher principle (ending war) then what about the principle of ending discrimination? At what point does one outweigh the other - or can we eliminate the discrimination while still working to end war or making the death of the military industrial complex the end goal?

I'm not judging - I just wonder these things. I agree with what you've said for the most part, but my inner-Libra wants to know how we balance the two priorities.

Bil, thanks to this question. Here's what I think: we can't argue against war by arguing that gay people should have the right to kill people and get away with it too. We need to fight for the end of the criminal US military, not for inclusion within it.

Of course, I recognize that many people would be more in favor of fighting to end the criminal actions of the US military, and that's a different angle.

The problem with the fight against Don't Ask Don't Tell is that it actually silences critique of the US military (or, at the very least, avoids it) by saying please, please just let us in -- let us serve openly in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in whatever country where the bombs will drop next, please. The social justice issue here is clear: we need to end those wars, not become part of them, in any way whatsoever.

And, another thing that is frightening to me is the way that the gay establishment (and, even more ironically, the straight left) insist on covering DADT as it is a separate issue from the war -- I find it unconscionable that antiwar reporters refuse to even bring the war up while trying so diligently to prove their "pro-LGBT" stance.

"we can't argue against war by arguing that gay people should have the right to kill people and get away with it too."

That's NOT what we're arguing. We are arguing that ALL soldiers should be treated the same - equal.

It's also not a crime to be a soldier. They are "ordered" to "kill people and get away with it," (your words). Your disagreement is with those ordering it, not those following orders. Without that distinction, your comments are illogical and offensive.

Andrew, just to clarify: my disagreement is with those who order unjustified murder, *and* those who follow the orders. Of course, the people in power, like Bush, Obama, etc. are most culpable for the policies they enact that ensure the murder of thousands, even millions in certain instances. But I think it's ridiculous to say that everyone who participates in the violence is not also culpable. In fact, I hear antiwar soldiers say this all the time -- taking personal responsibility is part of fighting against the war.

Yeah, I know. I think it's goofy.

So insofar as a policy that discriminates against GLBT people appears to advance your opposition to war, that policy is desirable?

I was against both wars from the start, and I'm all for eliminating the military-industrial complex, but keeping GLBT people out of the military does absolutely nothing to bring the wars' end closer or convert Lockheed-Martin into a teddy bear manufacturer. It does, however, perpetuate that discrimination against GLBT people is acceptable, and even necessary.

The basis of your reasoning appears to be that GLBT people should necessarily subscribe to the same radical, far-left ideology as you and should devote themselves radical, far-left political causes, regardless of personal circumstances that make things like marriage and DADT very relevant and crucial issues. And that's coupled with a dangerously misguided "ends justify the means" type of mentality where you see no problem with injustice against GLBT people as long as you think it somehow advances your ideology.

It's funny how the closer you get to the edge of one political wing, the closer you get to the edge of the other as well.

Alaric, I said nothing about supporting Don't Ask Don't Tell, only that all the focus around gays in the military actually serves pro-war ends.

I didn't say you actively supported DADT; I said you don't mind that it's there. You could simply admonish GLBT people not to join the military, but instead, you suggest we do nothing to oppose a policy that blatantly discriminates against us and inflicts all kinds of hardship on those GLBT people who are in the military, which is no different from saying we should keep it in place.

You also wrote:
Here's what I think: we can't argue against war by arguing that gay people should have the right to kill people and get away with it too. We need to fight for the end of the criminal US military, not for inclusion within it.


The social justice issue here is clear: we need to end those wars, not become part of them, in any way whatsoever.

In other words, opposition to the war and support for ending DADT are mutually exclusive, in your mind. So you're correct that you didn't say anything about supporting DADT, but you don't exactly appear to be against it.

Using that logic, Alaric, one could argue that you're doing something similar: You're arguing for an end to DADT but you have absolutely no problem with the fact that a gay soldier like Choi thinks it's okay to kill in the name of the U.S. and you don't want to put any of the responsibility for the wars in their hands. And, in fact, if I read you correctly, you're against criticising grown men like Choi for engaging in war.

So, to echo your words, opposition to the war and criticism of those who engage in war are mutually exclusive, in your mind. Mattilda is simply pointing out that they are not. It's a fair point.

The idea that DADT is fundamentally unfair has been written about ad nauseum - Mattilda's piece is addressing the part of the equation that gets left out even in liberal-progressive circles.

Blaming Dan Choi for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq seems like more of the progressive firing squad to me. You know, the one that lines up in a circle?

I just don't see the benefit in attacking those who are on our side, like Choi and Goodman, simply because their views and actions are not 100% the way we'd like them to be. We need more allies, not less. Criticizing the ones we already have because they don't live up to some standard of "true progressivism" isn't going to help us get more.

Personally, I will continue to blame Bush for the wars and homophobes for our lack of rights and be thankful that both Amy Goodman and Dan Choi are among the few doing what they can to make the world better.

Sam, a tricky gesture, indeed -- I would never never never never never say that Amy Goodman, a brilliant, principled, critical, challenging, and insightful reporter was in any way in the same camp as a promilitary opportunist like Dan Choi (except in her misunderstanding of the gays in the military issue). As far as I'm concerned, critique is support, and I am challenging Goodman and the rest of the straight left to rise to the level of their engagement on other issues -- in other words, to realize that they can't just throw in unquestioning coverage on gays in the military or gay marriage and pretend that these conservative, limiting goals actually fit into a left agenda.

janiice J carney | August 6, 2010 11:57 AM

This has been a deeply personal issue with me, I am a service connected disabled Vietnam Veteran. I served in a different Era, dealing with the draft and when you were” not asked nor did not tell” you were just served a dis-honorable discharge for being homosexual. I enlisted in the US army Medical Corp in 1969 right out of High school. I had no clue of what my sexual orientation was or what my gender was. I stated that I was not a homosexual, and my draft physical and birth certificate had already declared me male. I served three years a tour of Vietnam, then a year and a half in Germany. I arrived In Vietnam a believer that we were fighting the communist attempt to take over all of Asia. I had fresh memories of Khrushchev banging his shoe at the UN promising to Bury America., memories of his attempt to have missiles in Cuba aimed at The United States. I left Vietnam knowing that the war was about a country ripped in half over a fight for freedom from France. In Germany I became 21, I was an adult, I could drink legally and go to clubs. I learned fast that the clubs I liked and the friends that I found in Germany were “Queer.” I got one warning that I was being reviewed for a homosexual discharge. I stayed away from my friends, I stayed away from the clubs, I got my honorable discharge and returned Home to Boston. I am being very brief here just to explain my deep emotional tie this issue. I am seeking a publisher for my Bio that is a lot deeper by the way.
Today I see our involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan as 100% misuse of our military, and very poor leadership in Washington DC .Today I am a “Veteran For Peace”, today I know my gender, and my sexual orientation. I am half of the LGBT community, the L, and the T. I had to lay down all of this background to explain the point that I hope to make on this issue. Amy Goodman, “the universal soldier”, and Lieutenant Don Choi. Our military is a necessary evil; WW II proved that, the war of 1812 proved that. George Washington’s Army that had known homosexuals, and bisexuals as well as freed slaves proved that. We have been in way to many wars for wrong reasons since the revolution that is fact. We have given the right if not obligation to serve in our military to people of color, to women, and under bizarre terms to l,G,Bi citizens. I returned home to Vietnam to hear Buffy Sainte – Marie singing her song ‘Universal solider.” That song still brings tears running down my cheeks. My point is we have to separate our feeling on what war we are fighting and why we are fighting it; from the basic civil right of all of our citizens being welcomed to serve in our military. In a perfect world even transgender people will have the civil right to serve, and in a perfect world our military will spend more time defending us then on this insane offensive against Iraq and Afghanistan.

Janiice, thank you for sharing a bit of your compelling life story. Unfortunately I disagree with your point at the end that we need to separate our feelings on what war we are fighting from "the basic civil right of all of our citizens being welcomed to serve in our military." It is not a basic civil right to go abroad and kill people for no reason, which is certainly what we both agree the US military is doing right now. At the very least, we should be fighting to defund the US military, so that basic rights for everyone in this country, and around the world -- things like housing and healthcare and food -- can become available, instead of bombs and bloodshed.

A great conversation so far -- that's what I'm thinking, anyway -- thanks to all of you!

Thank you, Yasmin.

And, Alaric, let me clarify: fighting against the US military means fighting against all of its horrifying policies -- I'm specifically concerned with the way the US is consistently bombing countries all over the world into oblivion; that's what I'm opposing. I think that fighting for the right for anyone to serve in the military means that you are also legitimizing that institution. An end to the US military, of course, would also mean an end to all of its policies, even DADT!

I think you should do us all a favor and convince the people that flew airplanes into the World Trade Center that war is silly. Since religion is at the heart of almost all wars, when will you be ending that institution? How can we help?

Oh, no -- do we really need to bring September 11, the supposed justification for all US imperialist violence, into the picture?

But, as for ending organized religion, that we can agree on...

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 7, 2010 11:58 PM

Don't be silly, AndrewW. War is not about religion.

War is all about looting. The Crusades, World Wars I and II, and the wars between the prots and the roman cult, including the current one in occupied northern Ireland are about looting. Religion is propaganda incidental to the main point of war - looting.

The administrations of AndrewW's 'friend and ally', Obama, and his predecessors the Bushes and Clinton have been engaged on looting oil and other resources from Palestine to Pakistan since the first Gulf War in 1990, when Bush1 intervened in an internal Iraqi dispute.(1)

They're the ones who should be 'talked' to. We should tell them that Arab-muslim rage about the Clinton-Bush support for zionist apartheid and ethnic cleansing in Palestine was the sole reason for 9-11 and that their continued invasions and occupations put all Americans in danger.

When we 'talk' to them it should be through the medium of mass demonstrations telling the Warmonger in Chief in the White House that we want all the troops permanently brought home now and that we want the purse strings that pay for zionist apartheid and mass murder permanently cut.


(1) Kuwait has historically been a region of Iraq. The English imperialist Sir Percy Zachariah Cox separated Kuwait as part of their divide and rule strategy to steal oil from the region. "Cox was a British administrator and diplomat in the British Mandate of Iraq. He established the Iraqi army and constitution. He replaced Sir Arnold Wilson as the British Civil Commissioner in Baghdad in 1920.

He created the individual state of Kuwait.

"In a historical sense this is the man responsible for today’s Gulf crisis. Sir Percy Cox was the British High Commissioner in Baghdad after World War I who in 1922 drew the lines in the sand establishing for the first time national borders between Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. And in each of these new states the British helped set up and consolidate ruling monarchies through which British banks, commercial firms, and petroleum companies could obtain monopolies. "

Excerpted from J. Townsend, Some reflections on the life and career of Sir Percy Cox, G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., K.C.S.I., Asian Affairs, Volume 24, Number 3, Number 3/November 1993, pp. 259-272 and comments

shifra FREEWOMAN | May 14, 2011 11:59 PM


I liked this post. while I'm pro lgbt, I am not in favor of the repeal of dont ask dont tell, or at the very least i feel little to no gladness over it.

I am antiwar and cannot be happy to hear that now gays can serve openly and can openly kill, and can openly come home in body bags or openly come home wounded in body or spirit.

I feel sick when i see gays proudly in uniform saluting the flag etc, glad to be members of the US killing machine.

Yes i want equality, and I want transformation of our society and a radical critique of it-not to join in the most oppressive aspects of it.

I remember reading about how during the vietnam war straight men pretended to be gay in order to get out of going to war!!!!

cindy sheehan wrote a great article on her blog called don't go, dont kill, which is pro gay and anti war.

she said what i wanted to say, only she did a far better job than i did.

Please check it out.