Sunday, November 28, 2010

Troops Don't Mind Gays

On Tuesday, Pentagon will release a survey showing that 70% of US troops don't mind openly gay persons in the military forces. The politicians have feared the issue unnecessarily. Wisdom grows from the bottom up, not the other way around.

I often find that prejudice is maintained by those in power, but blamed on the general public. On scrutiny, people often prove to have quite liberal minds. Of course, it depends on how they are asked, and what is the context.

Pentagon has polled US soldiers about the “don't ask, don't tell” policy towards gays in the services, and 70% don't mind at all if gays go public with their sexual orientation. My guess is that the 30% that don't approve will come to terms with it, as soon as they realize that some of their buddies in arms are gay. The animosity towards “others” is overcome by getting to know them.

The AP article about the survey goes on to compare with soldier attitudes to blacks, Jews, and women, way back when. I don't really understand why. Each time has its own context, and not much is learned from comparing it to the present, without any kind of “translation”.

In 1947, a survey found great resistance towards mixing whites and blacks in US troops, expressed with many wildly prejudiced remarks. Well, in the 1940's, race biology (strangely missing from the internet) was regarded as proper science until Treblinka and Auschwitz revealed what it could lead to. In that “science” blacks were repeatedly placed at the bottom of the scale. In spite of the remaining prejudice, President Truman was courageous enough to order equal treatment in the following year.

In the 1980's, troops were found to harvest some prejudice against female soldiers. That, too, has worked out since, I believe. The attitude of society as a whole towards what women are able and unable has changed during the last few decades. So the attitudes of troops have changed accordingly.

Each time has its misconceptions. Our time does, too. No mystery. Let's rejoice when prejudice is overcome, as in the case of gays in the military.

The “don't ask, don't tell” was such a stupid idea to begin with. For obvious reasons it was not tried on blacks or women. Nobody should be forced to hide his or her way of life.

In the US, gays had been explicitly banned from military services since World War I. Bill Clinton moved in 1993 to allow gays in the forces, but Congress accepted it only if gays kept it a secret. That's still the case, despite President Obama's efforts. Will the Congress reconsider, now that a majority of troops proves more open-minded than the politicians are?

I have never understood the rage some people show towards the love life of others, as if hate were to prefer. Let's just settle for the wonderful principle of consenting adults, and congratulate those who find love at all. Life is rough without it.

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