This is Dan.
(Military Times photo)
As you can see from the photo, Dan is a combat veteran of Iraq. Dan is not only an infantry officer, but he also has a degree in Arabic -- something very important if you're going to be in a place like Iraq. Dan earned his degree in Arabic -- and his commission -- from a very good school in upstate New York known for providing America with some of its best leaders. The school he attended is commonly known as "West Point."
Now, notice that Dan is not wearing a dress. He's wearing the Army's standard ACU. Also, notice that Dan is not wearing makeup, eyeliner, or dangly earrings. He's just wearing the normal Kevlar helmet and protective eyewear that you typically see infantrymen wear in Iraq. Observe that Dan also looks as though he's barking orders, something infantry officers sometimes have to do in dangerous situations. What he's not doing, however, is hitting on the other male soldiers in his unit. And he's not spying on his fellow male soldiers in the shower.
Dan isn't doing any of these things because he's a professional. And this is important to note, because Dan is gay. In fact, Dan recently helped found a new group of former West Pointers and Army officers just like him. The Army Times described it this way on Monday:
Thirty-eight graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., came out of the closet Monday with an offer to help their alma mater educate future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.
"Knights Out" wants to serve as a connection between gay troops and Army administrators, particularly at West Point, to provide an "open forum" for communication between gay West Point graduates and their fellow alumni and to serve in an advisory role for West Point leaders in the eventuality -- which the group believes is both "imminent and inevitable" -- that the law and policy collectively known as "don't ask, don't tell" are repealed by Congress.
"We're publicly announcing our sexuality, our orientation," said 1st Lt. Dan Choi, a National Guardsman with the 1st Bn., 69th Infantry, based in Manhattan. "It's just one part of who we are in saying that we are standing to be counted."
Now, most Americans -- 81 percent, in fact -- are proud of the work Dan has done in serving his country, regardless of his personal life. But that last remaining 19 percent (probably closer 40 percent in the Army) -- who don't think Dan should be allowed to acknowledge his sexual orientation publicly -- aren't so sure. And this has caused them to come up with some very strange arguments to force Dan to keep his sexuality a deeply hidden secret.
Take for example their arguments in the YouTube clip below. It's a 5 ½ minute segment of a BlogTalkRadio show I did last week, in which I discussed the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with conservative mil-blogger and Iraq vet, C.J. Grisham, mil-blogger and Afghanistan vet, Troy Steward, and a former conservative Alabama radio show host, Pamela Furr.
The point in illuminating this segment is to show that there's no substantive opposition remaining in the fight to repeal the DADT policy. All the arguments we're seeing consist of vague fears about "social experimentation," discomfort with the "shower situation," and mild terror over the thought of cross-dressing soldiers.
But soldiers like Lieutenant Dan Choi dispel all the hysteria. And that's a good thing. Because, in the end, gay soldiers are identical to straight soldiers: They're professional, they're competent, and they take care of their troops. And any time they're not, they are -- and should be -- treated the same as any straight male soldier who sexually harasses a female soldier. That is, with harsh discipline.
So it's time for a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Conservative America's fears are unfounded. As long as you can shoot straight -- or speak Arabic or Pashto -- it's shouldn't matter whether or not you are straight. Soldiers like those involved with Knights Out have demonstrated that.
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