Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2010 / 24 Shevat 5770

The only reason to end ‘don't ask, don't tell’: military effectiveness

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" may be the right thing to do, but there's only one reason to do it: military effectiveness.

Yet, repeatedly, we hear the argument that disallowing gay men and lesbians to be "openly gay" in the military is a denial of their civil rights. This argument isn't only mistaken, it is misplaced. Approaching "don't ask" as a civil rights issue is appealing and convenient, but it's really not quite that. Or rather, it isn't only that.

The military may be a microcosm of society in some ways, but it most definitely is not a democracy. Individuals don't have the usual rights that we honor in civilian society and, in fact, forfeit their freedoms when they wear the uniform.

If you want to test your free-speech rights, try criticizing your commanding officer.

This issue is so fraught with emotion and personal conflict that it's difficult to summon the dispassion needed. It feels silly and patronizing to say that gays and lesbians are equal to the task of serving in the military, because it is so obvious and true.

Moreover, gays and lesbians already have served honorably and valiantly, so what, one might ask, is the big deal? Why make people pretend they're not who they are?

Then again, is that really the most relevant question? Given the nature of the military, the more pressing concern is whether changing the current policy will enhance — or at least not undermine — military performance.

Letter from JWR publisher


In combat, as all who have served will tell you, unit cohesion is crucial. Whether serving as "openly gay," the definition and ramifications of which remain unclear, will affect that cohesion is the great unknown. The enlightened views of a few urban dwellers for whom "unit cohesion" is an abstraction are not necessarily useful to the debate.

Does the fact that society as a whole has become more accepting of gays mean that the military environment will be equally welcoming? Or will we see special training camps for guys who just can't get with the program?

I posit these questions with open heart and mind. As a civilian without military experience, I accept my limitations in making such judgments, but would urge those contemplating a new policy to check that their motivations are moored to military rather than civilian imperatives.

There's no question that attitudes toward gays have relaxed in the 16 years since "don't ask, don't tell" was passed. A new generation of Americans has been raised in an atmosphere of greater acceptance. Views also have softened among older Americans, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who favor repeal.

Even my Marine vet brother, who survived Khe Sanh in 1968, insisted for years that gays would have been a huge problem in Vietnam. Today he says: "Gay, schmay. If he has the guts to go through the things I did, then good for him. . . . No doubt we all served with gay guys and never knew it. Gays aren't stupid and they darn sure know who is friendly and who isn't. I say leave it to the troops and forget about it."

The operative words in his mellower assessment may be "never knew it," which remain central to arguments in favor of keeping the policy intact. To what extent, if any, does "knowing" affect cohesion and what, exactly, does "knowing" entail? The truth is, we don't know, and a policy change would constitute an experiment.

Among sober arguments favoring repeal of the law is the particular idiocy of banning or removing someone who is otherwise useful to the military. The several Arabic-speaking gays who were scrubbed when the military was sorely lacking in communications personnel in Iraq come to mind.

Equally absurd is the notion that gays cannot abide by the rules against fraternization. There's no evidence that gays are less able to control their libidos than are heterosexuals.

More questions remain than can be posed, much less answered, in this space, and Gates may need every minute of the 11 months he has requested to study the issue. Whatever one's personal opinion, the guiding principle should be only what is best for military effectiveness.

"Be all that you can be" was a nice recruiting slogan, but the military really is not about you. And the right to serve belongs to no one.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.

Kathleen Parker Archives

<

© 2008, WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles