DADT repeal: And yet.

I am over the moon that DADT has been repealed. Over the moon!

Every once and awhile, we get the privilege of getting to actually watch the arc of the universe bend toward justice, and this week, we have had that privilege. In case you haven’t seen the President’s speech yet, I’ve embedded it below, because — as he so often does — POTUS made me cry, he touched on the truth so well and so truly (update: I can’t get it to embed! If you want to watch it, click here). I’ll be writing a few thank you letters over the next few days, starting with Representative Patrick Murphy who was so out front on this issue.

Furthermore, I can’t help but think how important the struggle itself was. The very fact that so many people have been out there, on our TVs, our radios, our internet, our newspapers, and in our private gatherings, at home, at work, wheresoever, talking about the civil rights of the LGBT community, about the bravery and patriotism of those who serve in our military — this fact is where the bend is really happening. Our country is a different place than it was two years ago, and the LGBT community has been moved immeasurably closer to the full recognition of their full humanity. This is a good and wonderful thing.

And yet.

Now that it’s happened, I will give voice to the one frustration that I have had: Why, oh why, must we fight for people’s right to kill other people?

Why is this where justice must start?

I don’t want to honor the Tuskegee Airmen — I want to fight for peace. I don’t want to fight for women’s right to combat roles — I want to fight for peace. I don’t want to fight for the rights of gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and the transgendered to serve openly in the military — I want to fight for peace. I don’t want to struggle for the rights of all and any to pick up a gun, cross an ocean and kill folks they’ve never met — I want to fight for peace.

I do not question the need for a military. I am not a pacifist. When a country is genuinely threatened, or when the lives of others are genuinely threatened, sometimes armed conflict is all that we have at our disposal. I understand that, and I do, in fact, honor the Tuskegee Airmen, think that women should be able to serve in combat roles and, as I just said above, am over the moon about DADT.

But frankly, this is the best we can do until we figure out how to do it better.

War is not honorable. War is not good. War is what we do because we’re still too emotionally and mentally stunted to behave with honor, to do good things — to truly value life over anything else.

As we limp our way through humanity’s toddler years — the years in which we respond to not getting our way by throwing fits and breaking shit, often with a genuine blindness as to what the fit costs — we are better off limping as a group. Each injustice set right, each human seen as fully human, leads us ever closer to the day when state-sanctioned violence will truly be used sparingly, and as a last resort.

I honor those who have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq; I hold in my hearts the families of those who have lost sons and daughters, fathers and mothers; I cheer for a President and a Congress wise enough to nudge our national policies along to a point where they are more closely aligned with our values.

And I pray for the day when my grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back on all this and see it for the barbarity that it is, and feel relief to have escaped our self-destructive foolishness.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.


  1. Girl, I think you and I are one mind in two bodies. I blogged on my feelings at DADT repeal passing, and I’m going to do a piece on Murphy, too. And, I share your wish that we could be fighting for peace instead. I am a pacifist–but an angry one. And, I am realistic enough to know that while I personally need not fight physically, that’s unrealistic to expect from a country.

    Still. Two unending wars. Talks of going to war in Iran. Where does it end? And, how do we deescalate the situations? In this matter, I only have questions–no answers.

  2. I second both parts of your feeling here. I do wonder about the situation we’re in now, in which the average person literally can just ignore the plight of people fighting in a war that we don’t even want anymore. Seems to me like the idea of a draft is supposed to make sure that people have to actually stand the risk of fighting in the event of a war, which is probably why the Founding Fathers set it up that way. Now, it’s easy to just send people out there. And to not even care enough to come up with a plan for victory? I still can’t even comprehend it. With Iraq, you had this war that was such a BIG DEAL but the people running things then couldn’t have cared less about waging it. Incredible.

    Still: big, big event, DADT repeal. All there is left, really, is DOMA. Yeah, sure, ENDA should pass too, but DOMA is the last major item of active discrimination against gay people on the federal books that I know of. Get that stuff done, then let the states work their magic.

    (By the way, since you added me to your blogroll, I’ve returned the favor at the Grape. Thanks!)

  3. debbie

     /  December 22, 2010

    “Still. Two unending wars. Talks of going to war in Iran. Where does it end?”

    I think it’s important not to lump all three together. Iran will likely never happen, Iraq was an indescribable crime, but I just feel Afghanistan is different. I have a real problem with the Taliban. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Peter Bergen’s book on the Taliban in Pakistan published earlier this year and then watch Frontline’s “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero” from 2002, which visually confirms a point that Bergen makes. This: When the Taliban take control of a village (whether in Afghanistan or in Pakistan), one of the first things they do is force non-Muslim villagers to wear yellow patches on their clothing.

    I have never been pro-war, but to me, this is chilling. I don’t know why it doesn’t get more attention. The world has been through this kind of thing before, and I think it’s mandatory that the Taliban be stopped definitively.

    • I do have a problem with the Taliban. I also have a problem with the genocide and atrocities that happens in other countries. This does not mean I support going to war in all these countries. In addition, 2010 has been the worst year for casualty since we went to war in Afghanistan. 2009 was the worst year before that. The Taliban is on the rise, despite more troops. I don’t see how that helps anyone. And, as for Iran not likely to happen, I’m not as sanguine as you are about that.

      I am not suggesting that it’s never right to go to war; I just think we haven’t been very careful about how we go, when we go, why we go, and how we’re going to leave.

      • debbie

         /  December 23, 2010

        I am never sanguine about war, but I think Iran and North Korea are both more about bluster and posturing than anything else — just a large-scale version of a male sword fight. I think the only real risk right now is Israel, but its supporters (AIPAC et al.) are noisier than they are numerous. While Israel could conceivably become frenzied enough to attack Iran, I just don’t see enough people in this country getting behind participating in a military kind of way.

        There aren’t words strong enough to convey my disgust at how Afghanistan has turned out (so much for Republicans being strong on defense). It is beyond inexcusable and may even be beyond being reparable. But the last thing we need is another half-finished thing. (I don’t want to use the word “war” because I think the real answer lies in development.)

        I agree with not fighting every conflict in the world, but have you ever considered how different things would be today if Reagan and Bush I hadn’t sat idly by while Muslims were being butchered simply because it was “only” Muslims being attacked? Stand up in the Balkans, stand down in Granada, and what kind of world would we have today?

  4. Mike Kay (Democrat of the Century)

     /  December 22, 2010

    Digya notice how Biden was holding back his tears. That moved me.

    • Hey, look! It’s you! From over there!

      Yes, I did! Biden, and Frank, and even POTUS at one point, very early on. (I was of course awash about half way through, but then, POTUS does that to me pretty easily).

  5. zic

     /  December 23, 2010

    I live under an air training path for the National Guard; fighter jets practice their low-altitude flying overhead; usually flying over in groups of three. You hear their loud roar, and have to look ahead of the sound to see their jets, they fly so fast. It echos off the surrounding mountains, a ferocious sound. Typically, they fly north, and about a half-hour to an hour later, they return south.

    On the day Israel invaded Lebanon, I knew something had happened because of these jets. They tore the sky, not in their formations of three, but in a hodgepodge of one, then two more, then another, then three more. They flew lower. Monsters in the sky, there and gone. And there was, this time, no obvious return trip. By the time the last few flew over, I trembled with fear. Something was wrong.

    And I could only imagine the fear of a woman in Afghanistan or Iraq or perhaps Pakistan, huddled on the ground, looking for something already gone; something that had, perhaps, already dispensed its payload of death from the cracked sky.

    People, no matter their nation, their religion, their government, deserve the right to live in the arms of safety and peace. Supposedly, we get to that place through a strong military. At least it brings the notion of safety, dressed in uniform, well trained, and well armed.

    But I think we get there through hearts and minds and understanding that we’re all we. There is no them. No matter your race, your religion, your gender, your attraction, we’re all part of the human rainbow.

    Nobody should have to fear those monsters in the sky or in human hearts.

  6. Persia

     /  December 23, 2010

    I think you answered your own question (beautifully) in your comment on TNC’s recent post. The fight over gay people in the military has also been a fight over the nature of masculinity– never mind that women have been the ones to suffer most under DADT. We are a society that defines masculinity by aggressiveness, assertiveness, and power, and no where else is that more celebrated than in the military.

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