Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Ask, Do Tell

With the repeal of DADT, it seems worth considering whether it was successful or not. Clearly, it was completely incoherent. We will maintain a rule, just create a new policy for implementing it that is entirely contrary to its spirit. But, like the electoral college, it was not a principled approach to anything. It was meant as a middle ground that would make no one happy. The discontent, I've always thought, was clearly intentional. It was a half-step to an end that was not politically feasible at the time. It was a phased retirement of the discriminatory policy.

In that sense, it seems to have been rather successful. Was it fair to gays and lesbians in uniform? Of course not. But notice the lack of howling and protests today. No one is screaming that the military ceased to be prepared or effective at midnight. DADT was meant to get us here without giving conservatives a powerful political wedge for their base. Once something is seen not to be the scary bogie man that someone makes, it becomes normalized and opposition is no longer protection of the status quo, but an attack upon it. What DADT was meant to do was to create a shift in mind from "there are no gays and lesbians in the military" and therefore allowing it would change the military, to a different set of facts on the ground -- "of course there are gays and lesbians in the military" why do want to mess with the way things are? DADT created a new normal and no ethical argument will ever approach the power of normal.

In that sense, I'm glad it's gone, but it did seem to do what it was meant to do.