Philip Klein has argued yet again for openly gay military service. "As somebody who doesn't view gayness as a big deal one way or the other," Klein wrote yesterday, "I honestly have trouble seeing the problem with allowing gays to openly serve in the military."
Klein, I believe, is an honorable man. His indifference to this issue is no doubt sincere and, unfortunately, widely shared by many on the Right. So let me try to explain why conservatives such as myself -- especially those who serve in the U.S. military, and in particular the combat arms -- are so riled by this issue.
First off, our opposition to openly gay military service has nothing to do with fear or prejudice against homosexuals. Yet this line of argument has been propagated and accepted by the cultural and policy elite. Hence the Pentagon's silly effort to "study" the issue so as to better understand the "feelings" of military service personnel.
But you don't need a study to realize that the vast majority of our military personnel don't give a damn if you're gay. By the same token, however, most military personnel recognize that being gay is not at all like being black, Jewish, Hispanic or Asian. And the reason, as Colin Powel observed in 1993, is simple:
Skin color [and ethnicity are] benign, non-behavioral characteristic[s]. Sexual orientation, [by contrast], is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.
Yet Klein and the cultural and policy elite suggest that sexual yearnings and sexual appetites are of no consequence. After all, they argue, so long as we enforce strict codes of conduct, there will be no problems with openly gay military service.
Please. Only someone who has never served in the U.S. military and who has never been to high school or college could make such a ludicrous argument. Sexual yearnings and sexual appetites are of tremendous consequence; and they profoundly shape human behavior.
I could cite examples from my own modest experience as a Marine to show specifically how and why sexual dynamics (between men and women) adversely shape behavior and disrupt teamwork and unit effectiveness. My experience, however, is not atypical.
Suffice it to say that how military personnel feel about gay men and women is utterly irrelevant. What matters greatly is the introduction of an overt sexual dynamic into an overwhelmingly young and healthy male population. The problem with openly gay military service is that it puts the full force of law behind this dynamic while dishonestly pretending that sexuality doesn't affect human behavior.
Yet ironically, Klein writes, "My political philosophy also leads me to believe that issues of sexual morality aren't the concern of government, which means that on some issues I reach the same conclusions as liberals…"
Well, give Klein credit for honesty. He's not afraid to admit that he's at one with the Left on social issues. But if issues of sexual morality aren't the concern of government -- and I quite agree that they are not -- then why is Klein urging the government to grant special legal protection to homosexuals? Why does he think homosexuals should be singled out for special protective status?
After all, gay men and women can and do serve now in the U.S. military -- provided they keep their private sexual lives private. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, says this policy ('Don't Ask, Don't Tell') is wrong because it forces gay men and women to "lie" about their sexual status.
But that's not really true -- or at least the policy is not as bad or as onerous as Adm. Mullen suggests. Most commanders, after all, are loath to initiate separation procedures against a gay military member unless and until that member makes an issue of their sexuality.
In fact, the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy requires gay men and women to be discreet about their sexual status. Big deal. Excuse me for not thinking that this is a terrible and grave injustice wrongly inflicted upon patriotic lesbians and homosexuals.
In any case, the issue is not one of sexual morality (though unlike Klein, I do think morality matters); it is one of human nature, human behavior and group dynamics. Heterosexual dynamics within the military certainly can be, and often are, disruptive. However, homosexual dynamics would be even more disruptive given most people's natural antipathy toward homosexual acts.
A shared sense of manhood, after all, is integral to the military culture, especially in the combat arms. But what happens to that culture when it becomes known as a hospitable redoubt for gay men and women? It would be naïve to think that this won't have an effect on recruiting, retention and combat effectiveness.
Yet, Klein decries conservatives' "inordinate focus on homosexuality." Would that it were so! In fact, as Klein well knows, most conservatives have been reticent to oppose the gay lobby. Their reticence is attributable in part to crass political motives (the omnipotent polls show that everyone's now in favor of so-called gay rights), and in part to the fact that many conservatives have bought into the propaganda and deception of the gay lobby.
But before we force a dramatic policy change and cultural transformation upon the U.S. military, we might want to reflect deeply upon human nature and human sexuality, and their effects upon human behavior: Because the reality is that we are not automatons; we are sentient beings. And our sentient nature profoundly affects individual behavior and group dynamics, and not always for the better.
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