Sunday, December 19, 2010

Changing Not Hearts or Minds But Habits

As Congress inches toward allowing gay men and women to die openly for their country, the history of American bigotry comes back to an octogenarian who has lived through so much of it:

*A father-in-law who went to medical school in Scotland because American universities had filled their Hebrew quotas.

*My own experience in the 1950s as the first Jew to be hired by George W. Bush's grandfather for his publishing empire.

*The injuries and indignities heaped on "Negroes" until Martin Luther King put his body where his mind and heart were.

*The ridicule endured by Feminists for protesting the status of women as "second-class citizens."

In all this, the victims did not ask to be loved or admired but simply to be treated with the fairness and respect accorded to all Americans.

For the simple truth about fighting bigotry is not to change people's minds and hearts but their habits. Anti-Semitism, racism and misogyny still exist, but between then and now, we have had an African-American in the White House, a Jew running for Vice-President, women on the Supreme Court and in major Cabinet posts.

"There is no rational basis to keep qualified and dedicated gays from serving in the military," Andrew Sullivan now says. "It was confidence in this truth--not assertion of any special identity or special rights--that carried us forward. And the revelation of the actual lives and records of gay service members--all of whom came out of the closet and risked their livelihoods to testify to the truth--has sunk in widely and deeply."

Sadly, like Dixiecrats who walked out of the Democratic Party in 1948 to protest desegregation, their counterpart now is John McCain, the former maverick who is acting out that kind of last-ditch resistance to repealing DADT.

But that barrier will come down, and some visionaries like Maureen Dowd and Jimmy Carter are already blathering about the coming of the first Gay President.

One step at a time, friends, one step at a time.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

McCain is an asshat, actually, so it's hardly worth worrying about him (who knows how he got reelected, but I blame Sarah Palin, in part).

Also, we've already had a gay president (and no, I'm not giving credence to the rumors that BO is gay), do you mean an openly gay president?

I'm totally fine with DADT being repealed, but don't expect much to change. You do know that this bill doesn't actually DO anything.

from the bill:
[re: the review:]
"(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect only on the date on which the last of the following occurs:

(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).

(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

c) NO IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON CURRENT POLICY.— Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect."

You lefties should really read a bill sometime.


Don said...

But, but, Lincoln was a Republican.

The repeal of DADT is a good thing.