Wednesday, June 2, 2010

THE STARK REALITY OF PLAYING POLITICS WITH PEOPLE'S CAREERS AND LIVES

There's a wonderful, incisive, comment made on David Mixner's blog, Live From Hell's Kitchen, that deserves to be read and widely distributed.

Mixner's post deals with the "compromise" regarding DADT. Part of what Mixner writes is as follows:

In the end, it is apparent that as a community we are being asked to proceed with "total faith" in the President and his willingness to take decisive action next winter. This compromise gives us no guarantees, doesn't end current discrimination and leaves hoping for the best in others. " Faith" is going to be tough for many people since some of us remember how in 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was touted as a major compromise and progress. Yes, it is wrong to live in the shadow of the past since it is 18 years later and it is a different world. However it is also wrong to ignore the lessons of our history - which tell us that most times when we have been asked to have "faith", we have been given darkness.

Here is the comment regarding the "compromise" associated with DADT that must be digested by all of us who take LGBT rights seriously:

Thank you, David, for your comments. You, ever the optimist, even after having been so directly, personally betrayed on this before, when so many sounds and smells are the same. Me, the cumulative cynic, doing such a poor job of carrying the tattered banner of my late friend who I know would weep for all that has been given away by so many without any real fight.

Thank you, Mrs. Reitan, for all your family has personally done to try to end the ban, and advance LGBT equality in other ways. Your wish is moving, but, alas, most of those who deserve an apology are long gone, for it's important to remember that "DADT" is misunderstood by many to be something different than what it really is: the old wine of a ban that had been destroying gay lives since WWI put in new bottles, a catchy new label "Sparkling DADT" attached, vintage 1993. And not just 13,000 discharges but over 10 times that.

IF and when this latest CHARADE is ever over and discharges ACTUALLY stop, who will sing their songs? Gay rights patriarch Frank Kameny got an apology for his firing from his civilian federal job from OPM Director John Berry who wasn't even born then.

Will Obama or someone else place a wreath on the grave of Leonard Matlovich for being the first to sacrifice his career to try to end the ban in 1975? And one for the gay WWII veteran buried near him? Frank is a WWII veteran. Will he get ANOTHER apology?

Will someone call Harvey Milk's survivors and apologize for forcing him to serve in silence in the Navy in the '50s? [Did you know he was still proudly wearing his Navy belt the day he was murdered?]

Too late for him, but will someone call any survivors of the first out gay man to speak to a national Democratic Convention, Jim Foster in 1972, and apologize to them not just for his discharge in 1959 but for this exchange during two weeks of interrogation when they asked him about every name in his address book:

“Sarah Whiteside, is she a dyke?”
“That’s my 84-yr. old great aunt.”
“And this one—is she queer, too?”
“That’s my grandmother.”

Will someone call Copy Berg's survivors and apologize? After they kicked Copy out in 1976, they forced him to scrape the officer's decal from his car bumper in pouring rain before they'd let him leave the base for the last time.

How about the women terrorized and demonized by the witch hunt on the USS Norton Sound in 1980?

Will someone call Joe Steffan, who'd twice represented Annapolis by singing the National Anthem before televised Army-Navy games, and apologize not just for kicking him out in 1987, but for making him literally rip his commander stripes off his uniform before being allowed into a hearing even before he was officially discharged?

Can what amounts to no more than SYMBOLISM in this "compromise" make up for what all of those people went through, fought for, sacrificed for? Will it atone for the destroyed careers of one-time Top Gun Tracy Thorne-Begland or one-time "Soldier of the Year" Jose Zuniga?

Or former Air Force recruiting poster woman Margaret Witt? The SECDEF we're asked to trust has yet to implement the interim open policies in the 9th Circuit from her favorable court decision over a year and a half ago.

Will former Army CAPT Jim Pietrangelo get an apology, not for being arrested twice at the White House with Dan Choi, but for Obama’s Solicitor General Elena Kagan killing his constitutional challenge to the law before the Supreme Court a year ago this week?

What are we to say to the roughly 600 who have been kicked to the curb just since the man most of them voted for in part because of his promise to fight to end the ban was sworn in? Is my understanding correct that we’re to keep trusting the man who has refused to use the power Congress gave any President in 1983 to override ANY law and stop ANY discharges in the name of national security with the stroke of a pen; who could have ORDERED his SECDEF and Chiefs to salute ACTUAL repeal?

Today the part of Bill Clinton will be played by Barack Obama.

And we’re to trust the SECDEF, who despite getting EVERYTHING he wanted, is STILL complaining this morning that Congress wants to even vote on this charade before December?

Today the part of Colin Powell will be played by Robert Gates.

But don’t mind me. Perhaps, like some of the characters on “Fringe,” I simply live in the wrong parallel, by slightly different universe while in this one snow does fall up.

I genuinely hope it does.

Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com
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2 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

I just posted this comment to David Mixner's blog:

"The bottom line is this: Every time a skilled LesBiGay soldier is drummed out of military service during wartime, the likelihood goes up that one or more of that soldier's colleagues goes home to his family in a box. That's how essential LesBiGay soldiers are to our campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that's why there will be no f***ing victory, political or otherwise, until a moratorium is called on DADT discharges."

Jerry Maneker said...

Excellent comment, Don Charles! One of the tragedies of this whole situation is that Obama could have issued a stop/loss order the very day he took office.

He has betrayed virtually all of his campaign promises to LGBT people. And another tragedy is that all too many LGBT rights bloggers are quite quick to drink the Kool Aid of Obama's rhetoric and promises that he has shown to be mere empty rhetoric that elevated him to the office of President in the first place.

He may be counting on his superficial charm and empty rhetoric to win in 2012, as he did in 2008, but increasing numbers of LGBT people and progressives are seeing through him, as seen by comments on assorted blog posts, and are realizing that he has betrayed us big time. Best wishes, Jerry.