Three South Floridians made uncommon waves with their opinions on Don't Ask, Don't Tell this week. One worried about the military worrying about sex, one decided that male Lady Gaga fans must be gay (which is true, actually), and one worried about the free speech of chaplains.
1. Allen West Wants the Military to Stop Thinking Dirty Thoughts
In an interview with Newsmax TV (Newsmax being the über-conservative newspaper that Ann Coulter considers her "editorial home"), Congressman-elect Allen West managed to give an eloquent, 60-second statement about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell that was as calculatedly inoffensive as it was meaningless.
Asked about the repeal, West threw a quick bone to his right-wing fan base ("Well, let me tell you something: The mission of the United States military is not to accommodate behavior and definitely not to accommodate sexual behavior") and quickly
proceeded to connect a string of banalities so divorced from objective reality that, together, they constitute less a statement of belief than a kind of brilliant political Rorshach test. Check it out:
"But right now, what is most important for us to be talking about? This past week, we had the Taliban infiltrate a gentleman into the Afghan security forces that shot six U.S. soldiers. Killed them. This past Sunday, I attended the welcoming home of the remains of a staff army sergeant who was killed in Afghanistan. What we should be talking about are the rules of engagement. What we should be talking about are the strategic objectives that will lead to our victory and success against this enemy. And instead, we're worrying about who is sleeping with who in the military. And that's crazy! So right now, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not the thing the American people expect the House and the Senate and the senior military leadership to be talking about. What they want to know is, how do we protect our sons and daughters on the battlefield? How do we make sure we're promoting victory, and how do we make sure that we take the fight to this enemy and not allow them to take the fight to us?"
Obviously, West knows that the average news consumer is not going to visit Newsmax.com to watch the whole video, and he knows that what's most likely going to be quoted in the media -- and, indeed, what has been quoted in the media -- is his suggestion that the military worry about more important things than "who is sleeping with who." And who could argue with that? With atavistic religious zealots turning themselves into bombs and targeting our troops, in precisely which foxhole would the P.C. police be welcome? The right will agree, the left will agree, the gays will agree, the straights will agree -- no matter who you are, West is speaking your language.
But West shouldn't worry so much. As it happens, the people currently deliberating over Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- that is, Congress -- are not the same people responsible for our day-to-day military strategizing. Even as John McCain bobs and weaves, even as Rep.-elect West pontificates, the generals are still generalizing, the soldiers are still soldiering, and the war wages amain.
But hey, Allen -- you might wanna check your Don't Ask, Don't Tell dossier, because the last time we checked, the repeal has nothing to do with "who is sleeping with who." We know you can get a bit hazy on regulations, so we ought to make this clear: Sex in the military is a no-no, Don't Ask, Don't Tell or not. The repeal is about protecting people from discrimination based on their inclinations, not on their actions. Even after the appeal, intrabarracks sodomy will not be tolerated. Got that? Good. At ease.
Coral Ridge Ministries Worries About Chaplains in Immoral Foxholes
Monday, Coral Ridge Ministries (not to be confused with Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, from which it splintered)issued a statement
in which Robert Knight -- the ministry's "senior writer" -- claimed that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is "immoral and destructive. That's why many chaplains fear they will no longer be able to serve and share the full Word of God with service men and women."
Knight is probably referring to the report cited in this story, in which military chaplains express fear that, after Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, they won't be able to tell service members that they or their fellows-in-arms are going to hell. (That's a paraphrase, but the meaning is clear.) Which is funny, if you think about it, since in his statement, Knight also worries that repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell will hurt "unit cohesion" and "morale." What, you may wonder, could possibly be more detrimental to cohesion and morale than the thought of your comrades spending eternity in a lake of fire?
No matter. It's a fake worry anyway. Chaplains are already strongly dissuaded from sharing such opinions. A Southern Baptist chaplain, say, who has been assigned to a submarine must minister to Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Scientologists, Unitarians, Wiccans, Druids, Raelians, Mormons, Theosophists, and Democrats, despite his belief that all of those groups are irretrievably hell-bound. He is compelled by the state to respect the beliefs of soldiers of other faiths, and "repent or perish" should never pass his lips. Does Robert Knight really believe that chaplains who regularly minister to idolaters will have any greater difficulty counseling homosexuals?
Ann Coulter Worries About Lady Gaga-Listening Troops
This is a week old, but it bears revisiting. Ann Coulter, South Florida's funniest, blondest, and meanest pundit, weighed in on Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a screed called"Bradley Manning: Poster Boy for Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
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Now, you'll recall that Bradley Manning is the Army private (and, as Coulter has it, "angry gay") responsible for the massive intelligence theft that resulted in Wikileaks' release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents. Reportedly, Manning downloaded the documents to a disc labeled "Lady Gaga." During the file transfer, he sat at his desk chair, pretending to sing along.
This is pure catnip to Coulter. "Now, I'm not a military man," she writes, "but I would think singing along to Lady Gaga would constitute 'telling' under '=don't ask, don't tell... What constitutes being 'openly' gay now? Bringing a spice rack to basic training? Attending morning drills decked out as a Cher impersonator? Following Anderson Cooper on Twitter?"
Ba-dum-chhh! Coulter's article continues in that vein. Lots of bad jokes, a few good ones, no real arguments to speak of.
It would be interesting to hear a Floridian proffer a serious position on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Probably not happening this week.