Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Of Us Aren't There Yet, But It's Way Past Time They Caught Up

Former United States Army Lt. Dan Choi was interviewed by Rachel Maddow yesterday about his recent discharge from the Army.

My favorite quote from this interview is Choi's description of what it felt like to be discharged:

First time I'm a civilian since I was eighteen years old. It's - You know, as much as you can prepare for this kind of consequence, and I knew what I was getting into when I appeared on your show the very first time, as much as you build up your armor and get ready for those words saying that you're fired, you can't deal with that pain and that emotion.

[my own transcription. Beware inadvertent misquotes]

Blindly rushing into a situation isn’t nearly as courageous as deliberately taking a step, knowing what you’ll pay to do it. Dan Choi did that last year. He was a West Point graduate, and he clearly wanted to be a soldier. He just didn’t want to lie about who he was to stay one.

That’s what makes what Choi did heroic, and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the future.

This isn't the first time I've written about the wasteful and inhumane Don't Ask, Don't Tell law that has been causing the military to shed good people when it needs them most:

To say this makes no sense is a vast understatement. The Air Force and other U.S. military services actively seek out these folks and discharge them. At the same time, the Army, in particular, has been, at least until the economy tanked, recruiting criminals and people with health problems to fill its ranks. [USAF] LTC [Victor] Fehrenbach is by no means the first highly skilled person the military have dismissed, either[.]

Some Of Us Aren't There Yet, But It's Time They Caught Up

Nor will Dan Choi be the last, I'm sorry to say. As I noted in that article, the President Obama could have stopped Choi's discharge with a stroke of a pen, yet he didn't. He could have stopped the service from actively seeking out gay and lesbian service members. But he has not.

As I also wrote in that earlier article, we're ready for this change to happen:

[A]s part of the larger trend of acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGBT) people on TV [the openly bisexual Torchwood character Captain Jack Harkness] is significant. Jack Harkness is a heroic character, and the series makes no bones about that. It's taken for granted. In many ways, Western society has learned to accept LGBT people. There are openly gay and lesbian entertainers. A couple have their own talk shows. Tens of millions of Americans watch these people every day and think nothing of it. Most of us, if we just forget how things have been in the past, think there's nothing terribly remarkable about that.

Some Of Us Aren't There Yet, But It's Time They Caught Up

The embedded video in this article features an openly lesbian television journalist interviewing an openly gay man. Most of the country, including a large share of the U.S. military, have caught up with this.

It's about time the President got caught up on some of his campaign promises. After the Shirley Sherrod debacle, you might think he would start noticing how few people are left in the sleigh.

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