Yasmin Nair

Dan Choi Is No Hero: Rage, or the Lack Thereof

Filed By Yasmin Nair | September 04, 2011 12:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: conservative politics, Dan Choi, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Left Politics, Radical politics, war machine

Note: I wrote this for No More Potlucks, where it was published in November, 2010. In light of his recent and ongoing trial, I thought it was worth reposting here, in response to a growing tendency in some quarters to see Dan Choi as some kind of unacknowledged hero. Thumbnail image for Dan ChoiMy piece below, originally published as "Rage, or The Lack Thereof," argues that, his style of defiance notwithstanding, Choi's facade of rage hides a deeply conservative politics. It's also a wider critique of the so-called left's growing disengagement from radical politics, and its increasing concession to the status quo.

A man stands chained to a fence, his face carefully composed in a look that can only be described as telegenic martyrdom. He is wearing a camouflage military uniform, and a black beret. The fence, it turns out, is the one around the White House. The man's name is Dan Choi, it is March 2010 and he is set to become a symbol of all the contradictions of the new political rage in the United States.

What was Dan Choi so angry about in March - and again in April - of 2010? My leftist, anti-war heart beats more quickly at such a sight because I always imagine that the soldier in question is about to launch into a critique of the U.S war machine: "With this act, I declare the end of my allegiance to the project of death and destruction carried out by our country." Or some such thing. You get the point.

So it was a disappointment to me to learn that Choi was protesting the fact that he, a gay soldier discharged under the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, was protesting his ouster and demanding to be let back in. Wait. "What was that again?" you ask? A man enters an institution, a man is unfairly ejected after it is discovered that he is gay, thus revealing, we must assume, said institution to be deeply flawed and even dangerous. And then the man demands to be let back in. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, is Dan Choi insane?

No, to the best of my knowledge, but he is has frequently taken on the mantle of martyrdom, often comparing himself to historical figures like Martin Luther King and Mahatman Gandhi, as in an interview with Newsweek shortly after his first protest. In the same interview, he spoke grandly against the stereotype of West Point graduates like him as a privileged people.*

"We are tired of being stereotyped as privileged, bourgeois elites. Is someone willing to give up their career, their relationships with powerful people, their Rolodex, or their parents' love to stand up for who they are? I'm giving up my military rank, my unit - which to me is a family - my veterans' benefits, my health care, so what are you willing to sacrifice?"

One might be excused for being stunned into (temporary) silence at the sheer audacity of this statement. To date, over 50 million in the U.S are without health insurance. Millions work without benefits or have seen a sizable cut in them. Medical costs constitute the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country. According to one report, citing a Harvard study, "62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems - and 78% of those filers had insurance." Given all this, it is hard to be admonished by a member of the ever-shrinking elite with benefits when one has none to sacrifice. As for his question about whether or not the rest of us are willing to give up "relationships with powerful people": he has, I think, a great many of us - who don't have such relationships in the first place - stumped.

As if his statement about who has privilege and who does not was not startling enough, Choi went on to speak of his experience in Iraq, when the reporter asked him what it was like to be in jail: "I've detained people in Iraq, I've read them their rights, and I've applied handcuffs and zip ties. I've talked with people in Arabic who've just been arrested. I know what it means to arrest someone for my country's mission. But I've never been incarcerated, and for something that I thought was not my country's mission. I know my country's mission is not to make an entire group of people into second-class citizens."

This last sentence should give pause to anyone who knows anything of what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan, or has even heard of the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs.

As expected, much of the gay press and community have held up Choi as their martyr. If there is dissension around him, it comes not from an examination of what his politics might mean but what they look like. While GetEqual, the group behind Choi, proclaims that it is "radical" for supposedly daring to engage in tactics like those used by Choi, the more conservative Human Rights Campaign (HRC), with a 35 million dollar budget, focuses on expensive fundraisers and lobbying politicians in D.C where the campaign is based.

Broadly speaking, the mainstream LGBT community in the U.S. advances an agenda whose ideology ranges from the right to the centre of right. Issues like marriage, DADT, and hate crimes legislation take up the economic and political capital of the "community" while matters like the homelessness of queer youth or the drop in AIDS funding are routinely set aside with the explanation that the first three will take care of the rest. GetEqual, HRC, and GOPProud simply want the status quo - in the form of marriage and the rest - to be expanded to gays and lesbians. None of their activism, in any form, challenges the hierarchy established by marriage, for instance.

Which is to say: conservative issues like marriage, DADT, and hate crimes legislation are the emphasis in the mainstream gay community, and the only differences between such groups lie in the styles of the advocacy they engage in, not the content. Yet, a recent Washington Post article about the gay rights movement declared that HRC was on the left of the gay community and GOPProud, the gay Republican group, was on the right. The fact that both groups are fighting for exactly the same thing did not seem to have occurred to the reporter.

But therein lies the fundamental problem with the Left in the U.S: its utter inability to separate itself from conservatives and liberals who, after all, merely want more of the same. When it comes to defining who is left and who is right, the distinctions come down to style, not ideology. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that Choi should emerge as the brave and angry martyr who has had enough and will risk such things as "relationships to important people." And he is regarded as such even by those on the left, like Amy Goodman, the popular host of the progressive television and radio show Democracy Now, who should know better.

Amy Goodman is as popular as she is among lefties and liberals because she is often one of the few anti-war voices of reason on the radio. But Goodman has had Dan Choi on Democracy Now a few times and has never once criticised his fervent pro-war and pro-U.S imperialist rhetoric. Not only that, she has gone so far as to pen not one but two op-eds, one of them titled "Lt. Choi Won't Lie for His Country," in which she repeated some of what he said to during a 2009 interview: "Choi got a message from an Iraqi doctor whose hospital Choi helped to rebuild while he was there. He said the doctor is 'in South Baghdad right now. And he's seen some of the Internet, YouTube and CNN interviews and other appearances, and he said: 'Brother, I know that you're gay, but you're still my brother, and you're my friend. And if your country, that sent you to my country, if America, that sent you to Iraq, will discharge you such that you can't get medical benefits, you can come to my hospital any day. You can come in, and I will give you treatment.'"

More recently, Choi was on Democracy Now, in a debate with the queer radical anti-war activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and said, "...war is a force that gives us meaning. War is a force that teaches us lessons of humanity and allows us to realize something about our society and teaches us the lessons that we probably should have learned before we went to war." Neither Goodman nor Juan Gonzalez, her co-host, blinked an eye. Goodman has not simply featured Choi's views on her show, she has explicitly endorsed them in her op-eds outside her role as show co-host.

Within today's left, or what passes for the same, it is actually possible to have someone like Goodman, who has spent many hours among commentators critiquing the devastation caused to Iraq, listen to Choi talk about "rebuilding" a country that he is helping to bomb and destroy, without a single question about his politics. In this case, identity - and its efflorescence under a neoliberal war - becomes the excuse for war and it erases the possibility of a critique of Choi's ideology.

Even further, the war on Iraq becomes a staging ground for Chois's personal dramas, a backdrop to the possibility of a doomed romance. As Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore puts it, "How many Iraqis died in order for him to express the 'truth of who I am?' What about the truth of the war?...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."

Choi's anger at having been expelled from the military and his on-the-surface radical tactics are symptomatic of the failure of the Left in the U.S to mobilise for the things that matter, like health care, leaving the political arena wide open for the likes of gay soldiers to angrily demand that they should be allowed to fight unjust wars. Modern times have rarely been worse in the United Sates, and yet, all over, there is anger about maintaining the status quo instead of meaningful change. Hence the growth of the Tea Party and its deployment of anger, much of it foolish and misplaced, as in the signs that read, "Keep the government out of my Medicare [the government's form of health care for the elderly]."

In the wake of such struggles, what happens to the efforts of those who do fight for actual change?

Here in Chicago, I am a member of Gender JUST (GJ), a largely youth-led organisation that has, for nearly two years, successfully fought for a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to institute a grievance process that would make it easier for students to report harassment and bullying. The current CEO of CPS, Ron Huberman is an out gay man with a partner and an adopted infant. For nearly two years, Huberman stalled on meeting with GJ and acting upon his promise to help make schools safer for youth, particularly queer youth, despite public promises to do so. Finally, the group decided to enact the kind of tactics long employed by direct action groups: it showed up at Huberman's public appearances and even went to his house with a basket of cookies and testimonials from youth who had been harassed and bullied. Eventually, after a series of such escalations, Huberman agreed to institute a grievance process.

In the wake of the protest outside his house, we were told by some that they were troubled or even offended by the fact that GJ would actually show up at the house - where his child was. It was as if GJ had shown up and threatened to take away the infant, or had thrown stones at it. As Sam Finkelstein, one of the lead organisers, put it to me, "Why is no one thinking of the children and youth who suffer daily harassment and agony simply for going to school?" Implicit in the criticism of the actions was the idea that Huberman's private residence should be invulnerable and that GJ had committed a major social infraction by daring to go to his house. This kind of logic is typical of protests in the U.S where dissent and protest have been nearly squelched by endlessly minute and refined bureaucratic efforts, via the process of having to ask for permits for every action or the constant admonition, during protests, to keep moving and stay on the sidewalk, instead of taking over the streets.

The students of Chicago's public schools study in the nation's most militarised school district; its largely minority and often poor population is constantly targeted by the U.S army for recruitment. Over the years, there has been admirable resistance to such militarization from many local educators on the left and groups like Gender JUST who have consistently been critical of such developments. Those criticizing GJ for its tactics failed to make the connections between Huberman's supposed imperviousness to protest while inside his home, and the extreme vulnerability of students within school walls.

Our rage, the productive sort which might actually demand change, is constantly being curtailed either by convenient distinctions between private and public or by a public discourse which fails to see the contradictions in a gay soldier who considers himself a second-class citizen of the U.S while handcuffing Iraqis. Rage appears in stylistic flourishes, as in the Tea Party protests where citizens rant and rave about policies about which they have little understanding or by soldiers demanding "fair" treatment in an institution that is fundamentally unfair to the rest of the world.

Rage has dissipated into conciliation and a call for the status quo.

*Choi was responding to criticisms that elite military personnel like him, who graduate from institutions like West Point and choose to enter the military with specialised skills, are different from the much poorer young Latino/a or African American youth aggressively recruited by the army with the explicit promise of social mobility. The U.S military still boasts of the G.I Bill of 1944 as the best example of how it provides college or vocational education for returning veterans, along with various loans for homes and businesses. But today, with military service being largely voluntary, the military must rely on aggressive and even duplicitous forms of recruitment. In its advertising, it shamelessly deploys narratives about troubled youth of colour within single-mother households who need the discipline, targeting them as ideal candidates for "discipline" on its visits to high schools (where it is allowed to enter for recruitment purposes); it even goes so far as to recruit undocumented youth with the false promise of eventual citizenship. Today, the military depends on a two-tier system for recruitment: elite soldiers like Choi, who enter voluntarily and the economically and politically disenfranchised who join out of desperation.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Yasmin, you are my friend, and I support the idea that we should work toward a world that does not have to resort to war. But the world is not that spiritually refined yet, and I have one question for you to start off with:

A group of Islamic terrorists plotted carefully for years, and then hijacked four American airliners. Two airliners were flown into a pair of the highest skyscrapers in the world, and due a basic structural design flaw that made the building vulnerable, both towers collapsed. Another plane was flown into the Pentagon. Luckily a very courageous gay man joined in, and sacrificed his life, to thwart the hijackers' intent to fly that plane into the US Capitol Building. (I guess if Dan Choi is not a hero, then Mark Bingham is not a hero, either? He and his cohorts crashing that plane into the ground was actually America's first act of war against the terrorists.)

Now, without resort to war, what do you think we ought to do to stop our airliners from being hijacked and our cities from being terrorized? Send Al Qaeda a cease-and-desist order?

Unfortunately, this country does need to defend itself. And if our enemies are hiding in caves in Afghanistan, or in a secret complex in Pakistan, then we have to go in and get them. I'm sorry, Yasmin, but asking, "Pretty please?" doesn't work.

Admittedly, 9/11 was probably a subterfuge for George W. to go into Iraq, which he had been itching to do for years before he was even elected. I agree, Iraq was probably unnecessary, but doing something about Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups is absolutely necessary.

Finally, if you want to get touchy-feely, I must say that in order to get the world to a point that it does not need war, humanity must evolve spiritually. Had humanity been willing to practice, "Love thy neighbor" neither 9/11 nor the Iraq/Afghanistan war would have ever occurred. I don't care whether you believe in God or not. But the problem I have with pacifist spokespersons like you is two-fold: (1) You don't admit that self-defense is sometimes necessary, and (2) You speak of a world without war, but you say not a word about the spiritual awakening that the coming of such a world requires.

A world without war would be very close to a Heaven On Earth. I don't care if we sing about in an Old Negro spiritual, or a famous song by John Lennon, or a Buddhist chant (and I'm certain that songs of peace exist even within Islam, but I can't name any -- teach me one!). But you speak of a world without war, a world-wide Temple of Peace, but you expect to build the top floor without building the foundation first.

AJ claims that "A group of Islamic terrorists plotted carefully for years, and then hijacked four American airliners." That's not true.

The decision to attack the US was made earlier that year after Bush announced the suspension of US efforts to broker a deal, leaving the Palestinians to the tender mercies of IDF mass murderers.

The truth is that islamists, enraged by the ongoing US attacks on Arab/muslim nations and US support for the ethnic cleansing policies of zionist colonists in Palestine, decided to strike back, but they mistargeted. They committed mass murder against civilians and gave Bush a chance to continue the policies of Bush1 and Clinton to steal oil and acquire colonies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then AJ says that if "our enemies are hiding in caves in Afghanistan, or in a secret complex in Pakistan, then we have to go in and get them." What paytriotic nonsense.

The attacks on the US will end when the US withdraws all its military, mercenary and 'security' forces from the area, abandons the zionists to their fate, passes a constitutional amendment promising not to invade any more countries to steal oil and grab land and convenes an International War Crimes Tribunal to investigate the crimes of the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama in connection with the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and attacks on Libya, Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, Bahrain, Pakistan and other nations.

Bill, how do you know all that about their motivations? Do you know the history of the relationship between Europe and its Islamic neighbors? It is far ancient than last century events, and it doesn't support this very racist idea that the West is always to blame, no matter what.

As for your other references to the ugly tradition of Spain and Franco (in a more recent comment), well, at least Spain can feel guilty about its colonial past. Did you hear about all the calls for the restoration of an Islamic state in Spain? Al-Andalus? They don't feel guilty. Nor should they, history is history, and between Europe and Islamic states, nobody was better or worse than the other. (Don't tell me that the Islamic rule of the Iberian Peninsula was a golden age, because that propaganda has already been unmasked.)

Opposition to European colonialism and the rampant Islamophobic racism that grips Europe is not 'racism', or racism in reverse, itself a wholly bogus concept.

I'm not interested in your comments about Abbasid, Umayyad and other muslim states in Spain. If you want to argue about them be my guest, but I'll refrain from getting involved. I don't usually argue about the relative goodness or badness of long dead states, societies and civilizations - it's not relevant to the burning political questions of our time.

I wasn't clear. To blame the western world for everything, against all evidence, is racism. Racism against non-westerners, that are viewed as little innocent children only capable of reacting against evil and never initiating it. It is very patronizing.

As to the so-called "rampant Islamophobic racism", either you don't know what is happening in Europe, or prefer to ignore.

About the references to irrelevant long dead civilizations, it just confirms what I thought. You don't understand Europe and its relations with the Islamic world. We, Europeans and/or Muslims, are older than you imagine. Our memories and values go more back in time, and they are very much relevant to today's decisions and actions.

Opposition to the immigration of people from muslim cultures, Africans and Asians into Europe is racism.

Working people have no borders.

I partially agree, but only partially.

The opposition to Muslim immigration in particular has to do with the extremism of a big fraction of Muslims. It is tiresome, after the trouble gays and women had to bring about changes in European culture, that suddenly we have to deal with an influx of people that are even more conservative, and start all over again. In formerly tolerant places where being gay was no longer a problem, there has been an increase of assaults that are perpetrated by Muslim immigrants or their sons. Granted, not all Muslims are intolerant, but a big proportion is, and we can't select the good ones at the border. To complicate the matter, honest discussions are very difficult because our traditional allies (the left) prefers to silence the issue.

Another motivation to oppose more immigration is that european workers don't want to be blackmailed into either accept degrading working conditions or be unemployed, since there are more than enough immigrants willing to work in appalling conditions. This is very nice for bosses, but terrible for workers, that are the majority of europeans.

Of course immigrants are not to blame here, they are victims, but what can be done? Bosses are not interested in raising the standards for everybody. We can and should force them to do it, but in that case immigrants will be out of work, because they can't compete against qualified locals. I agree that there is some racism, or at least selfishness, in thinking that if there isn't good work for everybody immigrants shouldn't come.

However, economic immigration in times of crisis is simply not sustainable. It is bad for the workers in the receiving countries, and it just postpones the problems in the country of origin. There are cases where immigrants come driven by illusions of an easy life, and leave behind an entire family that from then on depends completely on money sent from Europe, stopping working in agriculture, etc. This is not sustainable. The solution to economic problems is not mass migration. Although I don't know what it is...

Bill, my comment "A group of Islamic terrorists plotted carefully for years ..." is based on the theory that the original bomb attempt on the NYC World Trade Center was in 1993 -- while it did serious damage to the building, the results were nothing like the terrorists were hoping for. I, for one, feel certain that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were obsessed with "going back to finish the job" -- and on 9/11 they certainly did.

I feel certain that the motives for the 9-11 attacks, which were criminal terrorist attacks focused on murdering civilians were to avenge US support for the hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinian victims of zionist ethnic cleansing and terrorism, Clintons murder of half a million Iraqi children and the long standing criminal interference of the American EU governments in the affairs of Arab/muslim states to control or steal their oil.

All that history has created a new element - the current Arab/muslim uprising against rightwing, pro-American and pro-zionist states, which, for all its ups and downs, will eventually drive the US and the EU out of the region and end the zionist colony.

Al Qaida's religious terrorism (1) has been replaced by a mass movement of workers, youth, women and the GLBT communities that will not end until Jerusalem and Jaffa are free and the US and EU are kicked out.

(1) Al Qaida's criminal attacks were based on the criminal precedents set by based on the precedents set by English fire bombings against German civilians and the American fire and nuclear bombings aimed at the mass murder of Japanese civilians. The difference was that English and American terrorism took far more lives. Half a million each in Yokohama and Tokyo, close to half a million at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in Germany 305,000 killed, a minimum of 780,000 wounded and mass homelessness

Bill, your opinion of history is as good as any. We will never know what the all the real motives were for 9/11 because too many central figures are now dead -- their motives are probably multiple and complex, and we could both be right --- and the Seal unit did not bother to ask, "Osama, why did you do that to us?" before they shot him in the head.

It's not a theory. The rage of Arabs and muslims engendered by US colonialism and imperialism is palpable from Morocco to Indonesia. Nothing else begins to make sense.

The mass murder of Iraqi children by Clinton is a fact.

US support for the ethnic cleansing policies zionist colony in Palestine is a fact.

US intervention or attacks against Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines and north African states are facts.

The alternative theories are mainly Islamophobic and have no basis in fact.

Bill, please chill out -- I did not dispute any of your facts. To the best of my knowledge, I accept that all you claim did indeed occur. But I do have a right to have my own viewpoint, don't I?

I'm calm AJ.

But I do dispute the idea that the ultimate cause of 9-11 and Arab/muslim resistance in general is based on anything but US, EU and zionist aggression.

If you don't dispute those facts then they're not just some amorphous theory. They're facts, the facts that explain 9-11 and all the fighting between the agressors and their victims.

And of course you have a right to your opinion. I've never called for censorship in any form because it's profoundly anti-democratic.

Interesting analysis - and I think it indicates that the Al Qaeda style of violent approach to the problem was and is counterproductive. One does not counter the tyranny of power inflicting injustice from a position of relative weakness, by responding with the infliction of more injustice.

Perhaps the worst example of the wrong response occurred when Arafat prompted the Intifada when Sharon appeared at the top of the Temple Mount. I think Arafat should have considered *joining* Sharon at the Temple Mount.

At the time, the New York Times had started to do a number of in-depth articles that highlighted the plight of the palestinian people, and there was pressure being put on Israel to come to an accommodation with the Palestinians.

There was a proposal on the table to provide nearly all the necessities for a real peace - and Arafat walked away.

Violent resistance only spurs on more oppression.

There are alternatives - and peaceful resistance is the only way to get to an oppressor that has a conscience - and trust me, there are people in Israel and the US who have consciences, too, and can influence change. Unfortunately violence only derails any efforts at peaceful resolution.

There have been some attempts at peaceful resistance - and they have had some success, only to be lost in the maze of violent resistance.

I am not a fan of Western colonial imperialism, but I don't give Islamic society, religion or culture a free pass, either. The various religious and cultural fundamentalisms are the sowers of evil. There are people of peace on all sides - but their voices are lost in the swirl of violence. It does not have to be that way.

"I think it indicates that the Al Qaeda style of violent approach to the problem was and is counterproductive.

The Palestinians use of force to defend themselves against wave after wave of zionist mass murder is perfectly correct. So was the resistance of the Soviets to German aggression and the resistance of Iraqis and Afghans to US aggression. The world learned an awful lesson in Europe in 1933-45 and again in 1992-95. People should not walk calmly into the showers.

One of Al Qaida's problems is that their ideology was grounded in religion and superstition. Another is that they had nothing to do with the fight of the Palestinians. They're interlopers, outsiders, A third error is that it's not only pointless but stupid to take on an enemy who can destroy you with a flick of the wrist.

Their ultimate error was in targeting civilians. It doesn't work. It really, really pisses off the civilians and pushes them right. It opens the door for genocidal military replies. Read the United States Strategic Bombing Survey - 1946" (available online) for reports on how Japanese and German civilians were punished for being ruled by nationalists and Nazis.

Your 'advice' to the Palestinians is out of order. It couldn't be worse. They've been under the gun of zionist ethnic cleansing, mass murder, torture, apartheid, land theft and denial of basic social services since the zionist invasion. Thankfully, your advice - that they should bend your necks and wait for the axe - will always be rejected out of hand.

Finally, the various waves of the Intifada were not organized by Fatah or Hamas, and supported by few in those groups. The Intifada was the response of independent, often armed, Palestinian youth to the murder of their families by IDF thugs.

Bill, There are times and situations in which violence in defense can be justified. Unfortunately, violence in often misdirected retaliation against violent oppression only breeds further violent oppression.

On the same day as the Columbine incident swept it out of American news, Bill Clinton explained away the erroneous destruction by a not-so-smart bomb of a school full of students in a part of the former Yugoslavia as "collateral damage."

This was not an intended target, but tell that to the victims and their families.

But if the reaction of families of the victims was to travel to the U.S. to retaliate by intentionally bombing an American school so that some Americans can suffer as they did, the misdirected retaliatory reaction would only cause another retaliation.

So when the IDF destroys the home of a suicide bomber's family, when that family sends another suicide bomber, it causes more retaliation. Sure, the IDF is doing the same thing by retaliating against the families of the SBs, but if the cycle of violence here is going to stop, it's more likely to stop if the Palestinians stop the violence on their side and then the focus of world opinion will start militating against Israel.

If the New York Times was at one point getting really sympathetic towards the Palestinian plight, it would only have been a matter of time before US policy would have pressured Israel into a fair resolution. (I realize that it would have had to be 2009 before anything happened in that regard, with GWB as President, but the stage would have been set, and the EU would have been pressuring already.)

Look - let's take Hannah Senesh as an example. She was a poet who escaped Hungary, only to be trained as a commando who volunteered to return and resist the German apparatus. She was caught before she could do anything. She was not going to slaughter random civilians, her object was to free people from the death camps. Intended violent resistance? yes. But properly aimed.

Technically speaking, if Al Qaeda had taken over a cargo plane to fly into the Pentagon? That might have been an appropriate reaction to the issue of American military aggression. (However, I think that OBL was motivated by the idea that American female soldiers were in his "hoily land" driving jeeps and not properly veiled, when the US was preparing for the first Gulf war, and anythinge else was only a pretext. For wealthy Saudis to fund poor Egyptians to hijack airplanes and kill nearly 3,000 innocent civilians smacks of an elite snookering the poor, much a the GOP has snookered the tea party people into working against their own interests, but that's an entirely different issue).

I don't think that the parties on either side of the issue involving Palestinian independence are all good or all evil. We tend to demonize whoever is on "the other side," and this is counterproductive.

I can't say that violence is never justified, but there are times when a violent response, particularly a misdirected one, will make matters much worse.

There are times and situations in which violence in defense can be justified. Agreed, Joann, and I think the Palestinians self defense efforts against the zionist ethnic cleansers is a very clear example of the justified use of defensive violence. They can't stand back and wait to be murdered, lose more land or become 'apartheid' slaves, nor should we ask them to.

Unfortunately, violence in often misdirected retaliation against violent oppression only breeds further violent oppression. Agreed, terrorist attacks on civilians backfire and should be discouraged. They're not military actions, they're murder.

The IDF are terrorist thugs and their actions in Gaza and the West Bank are little different, and have the same intent, as the actions of the SS at Lidice in Czechoslovakia and Oradour-sur-Glane in France. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the IDF thugs are motivated by anything but the disgusting racist view that 'the only good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian".

What will stop the IDF and the zionist colonists is the awakening power of the "Arab Spring" which will not end until Jaffa and Jerusalem are once again Palestinian. Only history remembers the crusader christer colony called the Kingdom of Jerusalem and it lasted for almost 200 years. The zionist colony will not last a hundred years.

Your idea that there is a peaceful solution that involves the continued existence of the zionist colony in Palestine is unrealistic in the extreme.

Al Qaeda has no military objectives, it's not an army or a political movement - it's a purely terrorist group motivated by superstition and religion. It's also discredited, much like Hamas, Mubarak and the regime of the mad ayatollahs of Iran. They came to power because the US and the zionists made a particular effort to eliminate kill off or discredit the Arab/muslim secular left the PLO, DFLP, PDFLP, the secular opponents of the Shah, during the period from the 1960's to the 1990's. The importance of the 'Arab Spring' and the mass demonstration in Iran is their non-religious and anti-religious character and the indisputable fact that the leading role in these actions was played by working people, youth, women and the GLBT communities, organized and acting as communities. That changes everything and the zionists know it.

Would you care to tell the Danes about how enlightened European ISlam is Bill? Remember a certain cartoon...

I wouldn't describe any megacult as being enlightened.

My views on these cults have always been summarized by my comment that "Religion is the enemy. Religion is humankind’s greatest tragedy..." You'll find my name attached to that comment in hundreds of posts and comments.

Preemptively, here are some other answers. I think the role of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, individually and as a whole, is genocidal. I think we should condemn the actions of US military personnel in that genocide and urge everyone to get out or stay out of the US military. It think any level of willing participation in the US military is culpable. I think Brad Manning is a hero, not a traitor and that his torture by the Obama administration is a decisive and reprehensible depiction of the real character of Obama. I think people who agree with the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama that the US is fighting for democracy in south Asia are terminally naive. They're fighting, and wasting the lives of tens of thousands of GIs and hundreds of thousands of civilians, for oil, land, bases, colonies and resources.

About all I can conclude from this essay is that equal treatment under the law for GLBTs is not one of your priorities. Choi, whatever his personal failings, has been very effective in at least one aspect of that struggle, as witness the lengths to which the administration is going to make an example of him.

Frankly, I find your characterization of equal marriage rights, freedom to serve openly in the military, the right not to be beaten to death simply because you're gay as "conservative" more than laughable.

War and homelessness are not specifically GLBT concerns -- they are everyone's concerns, and who says we as individuals are not trying to do anything about them? But should HRC or Dan Choi be focusing on those issues? Why? Because those are the causes doctrinaire leftists feel should be addressed?

I remember the 1970s and '80s, when the New Left, which at first despised the gay community as much as anyone else, did an about face and co-opted our movement to bring us under their umbrella. And what had been very effective, focused movements against discrimination became, essentially -- well, nothing that did anyone any good. It appears that Dan Choi's major failing is that he's not following your agenda. Some things never change.

This is a most excellent essay, and I think that the two comments above show a distinct unwillingness to deal with Nair's arguments, and both attack her for things that are assumed she believes because she's "anti-war." The essay is about Choi's entitled rage and how deeply problematic it is that gay mainstream activists refuse to criticize his pro-war politics. It's not about Nair being uninterested in LGBT equality, and it's not about a utopian end to all war.

I didn't miss the foreground points in her essay, and I did not "attack" her -- I merely disagreed with her, and presented a question or two I might imagine her responding to. I start out by saying, "Yasmin, you are my friend ..." Does that sound like an attack?

It is OK with me that some in the LGBT movement are anti-war -- at some point we are all anti-war, pretty much. As for this bruhaha about Choi being "privileged elite" -- well, he graduated from West Point and I doubt that any of the commenters here did. If you want to join him as the "privileged elite" then apply to West Point and see what happens. (In other words, he earned it.)

As for "how deeply problematic it is that gay mainstream activists refuse to criticize his pro-war politics" -- I have two points: (1) Is Yasmin automatically categorizing herself as being outside the universe of "gay mainstream activists"? She is certainly criticizing him! And (2) I, for one, do not criticize his "pro-war politics" because I don't disagree with his personal actions, or personal viewpoints, all that much. The problem with the Iraq/Afghanistan war was not Dan Choi, it was the guy sitting behind the Big Desk in the Oval Office in Spring 2003 and his Number 1 Henchman, Igor Chaney -- Dan Choi had nothing to do with the decision to go into Iraq or Afghanistan. But once the Commander-in-Chief makes a decision, servicepeople like Choi are expected to obey orders. Criticize the Commander-in-Chief, or criticize the military if you want -- but blaming Choi for bad foreign policy in the White House makes no sense to me.

I have to admit that I agree strongly with the other comment on this issue.

While it's great to be anti-war, sure, it just seems silly to even write this sort of article on a soldier when clearly you disagree with him on every issue to begin with! You argue that he's ineffective as a leader in the movement for gay rights but you never say exactly why other than "He's a soldier and he's arguing for rights that I personally don't care about." How does it benefit anyone to say such?

It's one thing to give an analysis on why his actions, to date, have been ineffective in achieving a progress in gay rights, but that isn't what is done here. Instead, what this article does is argue that he is wrong because he isn't arguing for what you, personally, desire. A right to serve openly as a gay man in the military IS a right that was/is being denied to gays here in America, whether you agree with the military's actions or not.

If you want to question whether or not Dan Choi has been effective, then do so. If you want to question whether or not fighting for the right of gays to serve openly in the military is of value, then do so. Either of those seem a great deal more productive than simply saying "Dan Choi is no hero because he's a jerk that kills people in war which I think is bad."

Wow! Congratulations Yasmin, it's rare that I've read something that manages to be both as inflammatory and self-congratulatory as this. I get it that you despise the Iraq/Afghanistan war - you'll get no argument from me on that as I think it one of the most base, irresponsible, and horrendous things this nation has ever done - but to draw a connection between Lt. Choi's anger at being discharged, or being stereotyped as "elite", to the social injustice that is America's perverted health care crisis? That's not just misguided, but flat-out misleading. You further mislead your readership by drawing the same connection between the second-class citizenship of U.S. LGBT people and the bizarity of a nation under occupation by foreign forces.

No, I don't disagree that the U.S. government and military have badly handled affairs in Iraq. But I don't see much in the way of enlightenment or improvement in the way the Iraqi governments - past and present - have handled them either. Yet your implication - no matter how off-hand - that this has something to do with Dan Choi's protest against the inequality of LGBT's in U.S. society and military is delusional. But when you make the allusion that "...the war on Iraq becomes a staging ground for Choi's personal dramas, a backdrop to the possibility of a doomed romance..." you have completely lost your credibility.

Thank you for reminding me why radicalism in either extreme is dangerous, and for re-affirming my belief that to truly effect change one must find the natural flow and work within it.

I've come to respect Yasmin Nair's activism for the least empowered among us: prisoners, the poor, the transgendered, racial minorities and homeless youth, 40% of whom self-identify as LGBT.

I also respect activists like Dan Choi.

Yasmin Nair and Dan Choi drive me crazy for almost exactly the same reason: every public statement they each make is inevitably accompanied by a megadose of self-righteousness and self-congratulation! Even when i agree with them!

Choi is deeply rightwing, a militarist whose defense of US aggression against Arab/muslim countries, with its attendant genocide and mass murder, is in the ugly tradition of Franco and Mussolini. Franco, as head of the Spanish Foreign Legion in Morocco and later of the anti-Republican Falangists in Spain, encouraged genocide: "Despite fierce discipline in other matters, no limits were put by… Franco on the atrocities which were committed against the Moorish villages which they attacked. The decapitation of prisoners and the exhibition of severed heads as trophies was not uncommon." The biggest difference between the colonial policies of Franco in Morocco and Mussolini in Libya and Ethiopia compared to American policies in Vietnam and Iraq is the scope of the atrocities. American policies are much, much worse. "...war is a force that gives us meaning" could have been personal ethos of any Spanish Falangist or Italian Fascist.

There are lots of working class members of the armed forces who enlisted to escape poverty but Choi has nothing to do with them or with antiwar sentiment, exemplified by the alleged leaks by GLBT and antiwar hero Brad Manning. For them, repeal of the Democrats DADT will have little effect. The military officer corps is infested with rightist christian bigots and the fact that the law no longer requires them to be bigots just means that they'll continue to harass, discriminate and promote anti-LGBT and misogynist violence without official encouragement. They don't need much in the way of encouragement.

If Nair is right about Choi, she's dead wrong when she says "When it comes to defining who is left and who is right, the distinctions come down to style, not ideology. Nothing could be further from the truth. The left is defined exclusively by its revolutionary anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist perspectives. The left is Marxist and socialist although it includes a few other groupings like anarchists.

The left is a political grouping entirely associated with the working class and it's struggles, through unions and otherwise. Historically the left grows during periods of intense radicalization in response to the anti-worker class warfare of the looter class, like the one we're entering now. The left is growing in unions, among people of color, youth, imported workers and GLBT folks, women and environmentalists as disillusionment with Obama and the Democrats goes from widespread to universal.

Democrats, most 'progressives', largely refugees from Stalinist and social democratic centrist groups, and middle class radicals are not part of the left . Lacking a revolutionary perspective, they're centrists mired in the swamp of the Democrat party as politicians, the moneyed interests that own the party ahd the shills who apologize for both. They're constantly drifting to the right.

Religion, or the lack of it, is another important hallmark. The right, in the West, also is typically a supporter and bastion of very conservative and imperialistic type of Christianity. Whereas the left also has a strong streak of anti-religion in it. ( "Religion is the opiate of the people," remember?) Leftists who are religious tend to be very liberal anti-establishment Christians. Historical examples: the worker priests of Spain.

Patricia, you are right except that the Left has religions other than Christianity, which is admittedly predominant in the US -- but in smaller numbers, obviously there are Leftist Jews, New Age spiritualists, Buddhists, as well as followers of "pagan" religions such as Wicca and the tribal beliefs of the Native Americans. Leftist muslims tend to be the mystics called Sufi.

And finally, the Left is also characterized by a freedom of thought that sometimes renders a person's religious/spiritual outlook as unable to be categorized -- not to be surprising, because Leftists who are not atheistic often study many religions, then pick and choose pieces of each faith structure, ending up with a conglomerate that works for them.

This is not altogether relevant, but repealing DADT will have a minimal, if any, impact on the continued immoral occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. To argue that the anti-war movement should be opposed to repealing DADT or to take umbridge with Dan Choi, is to ignore the reality that DADT is merely a distraction, as is Dan Choi's trail. Whether DADT is fully repealed or not(and it has not been for trans individuals) it will have zero impact on the occupation of Iraq/Afghanistan.

The fact of the matter is that modern wars are won by those with the access to the best technology, the number of soldiers one has will make little difference.

Which begs the point, why should the anti-war movement be opposed to DADT and why single out Dan Choi? The problem with focusing our attention on him is that it continues to allow the establishment to use DADT as a smokescreen. Choi is not the real enemy here, the military industrial complex that has brainwashed people into believing that the ridiculous amounts of money we spend on the military is in our best interest, is the true enemy here.

Furthermore, I believe that it behoves the anti-war movement to support the troops. No I'm serious here, making efforts to widen awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the devastatingly high rate of suicides of those currently serving, and the high rates of unemployment and homelessness that is faced by veterans of foreign wars would erode support faster for the unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan much faster than quibbling over DADT.

Renee Thomas | September 5, 2011 3:53 PM


In your articulate denunciation of Dan Choi you've quite missed the point entirely. Dan Choi and the thousands of men and women (gay and straight) just like him are merely instruments of policy. Where you are short-sighted is in understanding that your polemical disagreement is not with him but rather with those who set national policy. There is a proper role to play for those American men and women whose choose to don the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States. Our role as American citizens is to actively participate in the political process and in so doing hold our elected leaders accountable for waging unjust war. I would offer that many of the conflicts engaged in by the United States through the course of the 20th Century and on into the 21st might rightly be considered unjust . . . but not all of them.

Kudos for writing this. The top GLBT Movement agenda items - DADT, marriage, hate crimes, trans rights - have deeply conservative aspects that make some gay progressives, myself included, deeply uncomfortable. I appreciate the courage it took you to write this. Please know many of us share your concerns.

How are trans rights a "top GLBT Movement agenda item"? Moreover, what is the "deeply conservative" aspect to it, and why should that make "some gay progressives, [yourself] included, deeply comfortable?"

The last time I checked, many GLB folks, whether or not they claim to be "progressive" is beyond me, don't give a damn about trans folks. Moreover, I am in probably the most conservative state in the Union: Kansas. Deeply conservative, to me, is supporting a governer that tells women to "marry out of poverty," and supports the idea that polygamy is more "morally sound" than homosexuality on the basis that polygamists at least understand the preciousness of a male-female relationship. Then again, that's not even REAL conservatism, but someone trying to build a theocracy under the guise of a small-government word such as "conservative".

So, tell me, what about trans equality makes you "deeply uncomfortable"?

To all the conspiracy theorists who like to comment on 911.

The USA trained and funded a bunch of very dumb, psychopathic and sociopathic lunatics, with no fear of death, from all over the Middle East, to attack the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The ideas that the USA planted in their heads was nationalism, Islamism and pan Muslim religious nationalism. Several of the groups of fighters that the USA funded, believed in a greater Caliphate ecompassing all Muslims with a complete ban on what they called Kafir (unbelievers) in that future country.

One of the Billionaires the USA funded to achieve the aim of removing the Soviets from Afghanistan by organising funding of the Mujahadeen, was a spoilt billionaire called Osama Bin Ladin, of the Middle Easts biggest construction company. He did train in civil engineering, but was to lazy and stupid to do the job properly. (Bizzarely the USA still funds billionaires even after the results of funding Bin ladin. I assume that a form of masocism is involved in that)

Those very dumb, psychopathic and sociopathic lunatics, eventually made Afghanistan not worth having for the Soviet Union, so the Soviet Union cut its loss's and left.

At this point the USA left as well, breaking all its promises to help rebuild Afghanistan after the Soviets would leave, causing massive anti-USA resentment, instead of the initial respect and loyalty to the USA that was there previously.

The very dumb, psychopathic and sociopathic lunatics were left with nothing to do, lots of weapons and in control of an entire country.

The very dumb, psychopathic and sociopathic lunatics, then started to slaughter, maim, toruture, terrorise and abuse Afghani people.

A forumer Mujahadeen fighter got fed up with all the chaos with the warlords fighting each other, so he picked up his AK47 again and started the Taliban in one small town, which quickly snowballed into a massive organisation, to try and bring order to the country. Once order was roughly secured in several areas, the Taliban was then hijacked by Osama Bin Ladin and his USA funded, very dumb, psychopathic and sociopathic lunatics.

Then the USA stopped funding Bin Ladin.

The Saudi Arabian spoilt rich kid, Osama Bin Ladin got angry with the USA, when it cut of his yearly hundreds of millions of dollars, to maintain his little empire in his head.

Osama Bin Ladin plotted revenge.

Osama Bin Ladin and the USA secret Service/authorities entered at that point, into a stupidity race.

The USA placed troops on Saudi Arabian Soil during the first invasion of Iraq. Bin Ladin used this as an excuse to gather up support from as many stupid, dumb and idiotic supporters he could find. Eventually the level of stupidity became so great, that some of the followers were stupid enough to actually kill themselves, on Bin Ladins orders.

Due to Osama Bin Ladin being as stupid as a brick, plotting for revenge against the USA, took over a decade and several botched attempts, such as the previous bombing of the World Trade Center. However, the USA authorities tasked with preventing terrorism in the USA were more or less as stupid as Bin Ladin and his followers, with occassionally during this period, the lead in stupidity switching back and forward between Bin ladin and the USA.

Then George Bush 2 became president. He replaced people in key positions in intelligence with some of the most stupid people on the entire planet. All people appointed by Bush had to be anti-science, religious, believe in creationism and have the mind set of a member of the modern day Tea Party. Bush was not interested in intelligence reports and neither was his staff, who were all to stupid, to understand those reports anyway.

So an insane situation occurred in 2001, whereby the most stupid people in the entire Muslim world were actually more intelligent than the people in the USA tasked with stopping them, from attacking the USA.

That is why the USA won that part of the present stupidity race, which it is clearly still engaged in at present.

The only way to prevent future problems such as 911 and the present economic problems is to trun away from embracing stupidity and to turn towards science facts and intelligence.

The present attacks on science, facts and stability by the entire media, economic and political estrablishment is destroying the USA from the inside and doing more damage than Osama Bin Ladin's bunch of idiots, could ever have done.

To create a more stable and defendable United States of America, it would be best to ensure that the next presidents, congress and senate are made up entirely of people with at least two PHDs in unrelated hard science subjects for the next 30 years and for all media to state that this is wonderful, with a ban on anyone holding office who has qualifications in law, banking, finance, religion or who has contacts in those areas for at least 30 years.


I disagree (a heartfelt thank you, however, for caring about bullied kids in Chicago schools).

DADT was worth fighting on this basis alone: Whether one thinks the military is good, bad, or should be gotten rid of altogether, it's impossible to calculate the amount of discrimination fed or provoked everywhere else in the country, or the damage to the mental health of LGBT kids and adults, by the existence of a policy like DADT in a national institution, and our exclusion from what many people regard--rightly or wrongly--as a basic privilege of citizenship.

Trans people like me are still excluded, but I couldn't be happier that my lesbian sisters and gay brothers are one step closer to being regarded as full human beings by the federal government. Dan Choi is certainly a hero, as apparently are you, for your work in Chicago.

DADT was part of the moral conspiracy to promote the meme that gay men are thoroughly dishonorable in character. We know already that gay men have served honorably (silently), and some have even been decorated for their valor (Matlovich was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star before he came out, for example). The anti-gay fundies don't want the world to know about the contributions we make and are capable of making to society. Getting rid of DADT was essential for the world to know gay men and lesbians as we really are. (Just like str8's, some of us are naturals for military service, and some of us aren't.)

That is the same reason why the anti-gay fundies will fight the new California law about teaching that LGBT people are a part of history. They don't want their children to know about the good contributions we make to society and culture.

So well said, A.J. I couldn't agree with you more. For anyone who might read this who is not familiar with what DADT was like for those who served under it, I would suggest the lay witness testimony in the district court's decision in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States. It starts on page 20 and goes to page 45.

I also agree with you on the importance of the education law in California. Ignorance of LGBT historical contributions causes lack of confidence and self-respect among LGBT kids and lets the fundies get away with undermining our humanity by arguing that we're a product of recent social changes, instead of being a kind of person who has always existed.

I do hope that trans people will one day be allowed to serve as well. Other countries have seemed to be able to accomplish this without drama: A trans person serves alongside Prince William in his RAF unit, for goodness sake.

Wilberforce1 | September 6, 2011 3:41 PM

I used to call myself a leftist. But now the left are hopeless.
That was clear in 2000 when the left elite stumped for Nader and gave Bush the White House. They used the crazy idea that there's no difference between dems and repubs. Incredibly, and despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, that idea is still being pushed by someone right here.
They never apologized for the horrors of Bush, the worst of which being his failure to stop 9-11. There was more than enough intelligence to prevent it. Clinton stopped plenty of attacks against us, and had Gore won, there would have been no 9-11.
Bush also gave us a useless war in Iraq, and this charming financial meltdown. And had 9-11 never happened, we wouldn't have had to go into Afganistan.
Next they forced Obama on us in the primary, though the Clintons had tons more knowledge and experience. And here is more leftist bull---t, the preference for identity politics over merit.
Next they deserted Obama in the congressional election, allowing the repubs to retake the house.
When the first African American President was elected, I danced in the streets. But we are paying a heavy price. Obama wasted a year on healthcare, which he could have done in three minutes using reconciliation. He passed the keynsian hogfest stimulus (instead of fiscally responsible Clintonomics), which ballooned the deficit and wasted tons of political capital. And he gave the rich their tax cuts. I don't blame the President for any of these mistakes. He just didn't have the knowledge or experience to deal with the issues. But now we are in serious trouble, and again it's partly thanks to the left.
Their tactics have stayed the same for decades. They start with trashing everything but never offering a workable solution for anything. For examples, look no further than this thread. It's especially easy to do since nothing is perfect you can always magnify the horrors of the world.
Yasmine does her part by offering non-issues to waste out time. That's what this screed on Choi is about. Considering workable strategies might be a better use of our time.
Another tactic is oversimplification. All war is evil, therefore Dan Choi is a hopeless creep conservative.
But the left elite's real purpose is to excuse their audience from doing anything productive. That's what their fixation with communism and capitalism is about. Ignoring the fact that these are only systems and you can work for good within either one allows them to sit on their butts complaining. It's their favorite past time.
The left have sabotaged us regularly for thirty years. And it could be argued that they do it on purpose, to make things worse in order to have plenty to complain about.

Wilberforce1 - "I used to call myself a leftist."

Like all Demolcrats, you were wrong.

Wilberforce1 | September 7, 2011 1:13 AM

I'm glad you feel qualified to decide for everyone what is and what is not the left. Actually, your definition is yours alone, and blatantly crack pot.
Most people agree that the left is a part of the democratic party, along with moderates, and blue dogs, and blue collar liberals, and limosine liberals.
I guess that leaves you as a party of one. How deliciously exclusive.
But you'll pardon the rest of us if we don't ask to join.

Democrats have always been a rightwing party. They're the party of slavery, of Jim Crow, of Dixiecrats, of genocide in Vietnam and infanticide in Iraq. Now they're the party of union busting and austerity for workers and tax cuts for the rich.

Obama is to the right of Nixon, and he leaves voters the choice between the lesser of the two Republicans. The thirty million voters who deserted the Democrats from 2008 to 2010 indicate that that's not the choice people want.

Those leftists - stalinists and social democrats - who entered the Democrat party drowned in it. They spent so long pretending to be liberals that they became liberals. Liberals were never part of the left. They're right centrists moving further right all the time.

I'm sure you'll be comfortable as a Democrat.

That's not true. Historically, both parties encompassed liberals, moderates, conservatives, populists and progressives -- they weren't single-ideology parties like the ones in Europe. It's only in recent years that the Republican Party has become a party driven by a single ideology, while the Democrats have mostly moved to the center.

"liberals, moderates, conservatives, populists and progressives" are centrist at best but more often right centrist.

Socialists, some anti-colonialists, anarchists and independent struggle groups of unionists and people of color are leftists.

It's not a question of semantics, but of the conflicting class interests represented by leftists as opposed to centrists and rightists, who represent the looter class, the ruling class.

Leftists represent workers and others fighting for their liberation from the looter class.

THANK YOU Yasmin, for writing this. I have been railing against Choi for a while now and have been fed up with peoples' willingness to coopt identity politics in order to justify imperialism. As a queer person from a war refugee background I find this turn incredibly despicable.

We need all kinds of LGBT people. We need the Dan Chois and we need the Rachel Maddows. We need to win EVERYONE'S hearts.

I personally do not agree with our governments reasons for our armed forces to be in Iraq or Afghanistan (or anywhere else at the moment) But I also don't think it would be wise or fair of me to debate another persons decision to serve in the military. How can I if I also believe in the inalienable right to self determination. But I don't think that is the issue here.
Whether or not someone chooses to join the military is one decision, and who they choose to love is another. Straight soldiers are allowed to have and often speak about their loved ones. They can carry pictures, write letters, talk on skype, and share stories and memories openly with their peers. LGBT soldiers can not. They are not allowed the luxury but, right or wrong, they fight the same battles, and take the same risks, but when a LGBT soldier is injured or worse killed, and their loved ones need to be notified only the parents are told. Their partners must hope that the family will recognize their relationship to be informed. So now, finally, gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual soldiers will be able to serve and live openly. And if a lesbian soldier is harmed , she can call her lover to reassure her that everything is okay and soon she will be home.