How much is the life of an American soldier worth? When does a soldier become expendable? Those are the questions we need to ask in the coming days as the government considers repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding homosexuals in uniform.
A wounded soldier in Afghanistan will find himself airlifted halfway around the world for treatment within hours. In this, we see the admirable care and great value given to American lives. Such solicitude on the battleground is not shown off the battlefield, however. It seems there are times when the American solider becomes expendable. This is particularly the case in the raging debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Everything is centered on a Dec. 1 report the military will release analyzing the impact of its repeal on the armed forces.
The liberally sensitive results of this “analysis” are so predictable it’s almost senseless to go through the trouble to release it. Everything that has leaked out about the process indicates the report will discuss how to repeal - not whether to repeal - the ban on homosexuality in the military. It will conclude that inclusion of open homosexuals in the military will not have significant adverse effects. It will conclude that the soldier is expendable. He can be used for social experiments. He can be penalized for the religious values he holds. He can be deprived of the freedom for which he fights.
The findings will be completely politically correct because a higher command than the Joint Chiefs of Staff has decreed that the American soldier is expendable and his values don’t matter in the military.
Judges, liberal pundits and legislators are all clamoring for the repeal with an urgency that defies the imagination. A single judge assumes almost dictatorial powers. Advocates cannot even wait for the Dec. 1 study to validate their opinions and rubber-stamp policy decisions that have been made already. They must have the repeal now, even if it appears to be rammed down the throats of the American people in a lame-duck session of Congress. Some argue it hasn’t been proved that the entry of open homosexuals (which includes bisexuals and the so-called transgendered) into the military would make soldiers expendable. That isn’t the point right now, and advocates of repeal don’t care to know one way or the other.
At the same time, there is no doubt that repeal will affect the military negatively. The military profession, which demands decisiveness in action, must open its doors to the ambiguous bisexual and transgendered soldier. There are reports that higher military authorities already have informed officers that they must accept the decision or be labeled bigots and face expulsion. Added to the stress of combat, our warriors soon will be forced to take extreme care to avoid any act, gesture or comment that might be construed to be discriminatory toward the new privileged class of homosexuals who will enter the military ready to report any alleged bigotry. Chaplains face major problems because they must deal with the sin of homosexual acts. The service generals have all expressed major reservations about the move and its effect on morale.
All of this is to accommodate a tiny sliver of a minute minority that demands entry into the military. All of this treats honor, tradition and distinctions between virtue and vice, truth and error, good and evil - inherent to the military condition - as if they are irrelevant.
Even the more practical matter of the danger on the battlefield from men who cannot donate blood because of the risks of disease doesn’t move repeal advocates. The contamination of blood on the battlefield would endanger the lives of servicemen. The combatant who is carefully carried off the battleground in Afghanistan to our hospitals in Germany now runs the danger of being infected by his own comrade-in-arms by judicial and legislative fiat.
No life is threatened by preserving the ban. As long as one soldier feels threatened by the climate created by repealing the ban, as long as one life might be at risk from tainted blood, as long as one serviceman maintains a sense of honor, we should keep the ban. Indeed, we owe our warriors an answer to the question: When does a soldier become expendable?
John Horvat II is vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. A version of this column appeared on TFP.org.