Wilkerson on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: The Time Has Come

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pompeii_art_alexander_great.jpgThis is a guest note by Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson (USA, ret) who for sixteen years was assistant to General Colin Powell and who served as Chief of Staff of the Department of State during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State. Wilkerson now teaches as the Pamela Harriman Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the College of William & Mary and also chairs the 21st Century US-Cuba Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation.
(I am particularly indebted to Col. Wilkerson who upon hearing the words of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace that homosexuality was “immoral” while we were traveling together to Havana, Cuba in March 2007 brought a bottle of rum over and apologized to me for Pace’s behavior and the entire Dont’ Ask Don’t Tell policy. — Steve Clemons)

The Time Has Come
In early 1993 Colin Powell and I had an intriguing conversation. In the midst of the controversy President Clinton had started about gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I talked about the Companions.
The Companions were Alexander the Great’s praetorian guard, his extra special troops, his “shock and awe” cavalry. About 300 men at any given time in the Royal Squadron, they were the very best warriors this thirty-year old, world-conquering Greek soldier-king had at his side, always.
History tells us–or at least those historians such as Plutarch, Mary Renault, and Robin Lane Fox whom we trust–these Companions were sworn to Alexander’s protection and that they never faltered. As did Alexander himself, they often rode directly into the teeth of a battle and fought like wildcats.
Many of these stalwart soldiers were gay. I dare say–again, if history’s recorders are to be trusted–that many were bisexual, as apparently was Alexander himself, but to a man they probably had had at one time or another sexual relations with other men. As the Thebans, another Greek outfit of enormous prowess, used to theorize, perhaps these relationships even made them fiercer warriors.
Now, it could be argued that most Republicans and Tea Party members are not like Powell and me; that is they have never read a history book. Their actions routinely seem to corroborate this fact. Moreover, many of those who flock to this issue of opposing gays and lesbians serving openly in the Armed Forces–like that hero of heroes, Rush Limbaugh–have never served in the armed forces themselves and so could be called anything but fierce. Devious, manipulating, power-hungry, corrupt, unchristian, and a host of other epithets, but not fierce.
So, is it jealousy or envy that causes them to be do dead-set against gays and lesbians serving openly in the Armed Forces? It could hardly be anything else given the example of Alexander and his Companions. Or, for that matter, the example of the many gays and lesbians who have served honorably and well in the U.S. Armed Forces since our Revolutionary War, however covertly.
As to lesbians in particular, in those days of Powell’s chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I–and I assume he as well since he had access to the same research data as did I–had even more reason to believe they would make fine soldiers.
In fact, our records demonstrated that if you categorized soldiers by sexual inclination and then checked all the factors of good soldiership against those categories, the very best peacetime soldier was a female who was a lesbian. Fewer absences-without-leave, fewer disciplinary actions in general, faster riser in the ranks, and totally dedicated to the job.
Oh yes, and incidentally, she was more apt to stay with the same partner over time than even a heterosexual soldier who was married. How interesting, we thought at the time.
In his office that day, as Powell and I concluded our early 1993 conversation about Alexander the Great and his Companions, I asked the Chairman if he thought President Clinton would win out in his attempt to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the Armed Forces.
Powell thought for a moment and then turned to me and said: “No, the Congress probably won’t allow it.”
Knowing that there were members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who were almost violently opposed to such service, I didn’t choose to pursue the matter with Powell any further and turned to leave his office.
He wasn’t finished with me yet however.
He sat back at his desk and said to me: “Some day, though, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now, it won’t even be an issue.”
It has been 17 years since that conversation in the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and it is high time that we did the right thing and let gays and lesbians continue to serve honorably and now openly in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
— Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson (USA, ret)

Comments

33 comments on “Wilkerson on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: The Time Has Come

  1. John says:

    What about those of US that were discharged because of DADT, HONORABLY, that are now too old to return to active duty to hit AT LEAST our 20 year mark we were shooting for? I was in 17 years and a month!! Am I going to get some type of back pay from the date of my discharge? I will be the first one to sue the gov’t for discrimination and parading my sexuality on my DD-214, also!!! There is a numerical code and a written description as to the reason for discharge. “Oh, I see. I can’t tell YOU, but when YOU kick me to the curb YOU can parade MY sexuality FOR ME ???” Isn’t that ILLEGAL everywhere else in this country?? What’s the FIRST thing ANY potential empoyer asks for when applying for a job outside the military?? “Got your DD-214?” I’m pissed, and am ready to go to “war” against the very country I served, honorabally…. IN COURT !

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  2. John says:

    What about those of US that were discharged because of DADT, HONORABLY, that are now too old to return to active duty to hit AT LEAST our 20 year mark we were shooting for? I was in 17 years and a month!! Am I going to get some type of back pay from the date of my discharge? I will be the first one to sue the gov’t for discrimination and parading my sexuality on my DD-214, also!!! There is a numerical code and a written description as to the reason for discharge. “Oh, I see. I can’t tell YOU, but when YOU kick me to the curb YOU can parade MY sexuality FOR ME ???” Isn’t that ILLEGAL everywhere else in this country?? What’s the FIRST thing ANY potential empoyer asks for when applying for a job outside the military?? “Got your DD-214?” I’m pissed, and am ready to go to “war” against the very country I served, honorabally…. IN COURT !

    Reply

  3. Nicole says:

    Part of the problem with gays serving openly in the army is not the fact that they are gay, but the fact that it can make others uncomfortable. When people do not know that the person they are sharing showers with and sleeping next to are gay, there is no problem; but, when they find out that someone is gay, things often get awkward. This can make teamwork drills difficult as well. I am completely supportive of gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces, but I just think that a main issue a lot of people have is dealing with comfort. One of my teachers took a survey of our class as to who would have an issue with showering at the same with someone who was gay, and many people had an issue with it. This is just something that I think needs to be considered more. Like I said, I do not think this should be a reason for gays not to participate in the armed forces, but maybe people would feel more comfortable with the idea if other measures were taken (maybe separate showering times if necessary).

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  4. Sweetness says:

    Interesting piece by Chabon. I note this…
    To be honest–and maybe just because it’s late–I’m not sure what he is saying. Nor would I look to him as an interpreter of the tradition. He’s a writer. But leaving all of that aside, I’m not entirely sure what his bottom line is.
    If I were to take a stab at it, I’d say, “The ambiguity is that Jews as Zionists want to be just like anyone else, but want to retain the specialness or exceptionalism that seems to be built into the tradition via concepts like ‘the chosen people’ which is also, somehow, the battering ram that has been used against us.”
    It would take too much time and effort now to unpack this, but I’ll say a couple of things. The notion of ‘the chosen people’ has never meant that Jews are, as it were, above the law. Starting with the prophets and on down through our great religious leaders, Jews, as a people, have been highly self-critical. In fact, on a secular level, you see this in the high level of self-criticality evident in the Israeli press.
    He also SEEMS to be saying that Jewish apartness has given haters of Jews both a reason to hate and a handle to use as they dispense their hate. This may be factually accurate, but it is a bunch of bull on a moral level. I’m sorry, you don’t have the right to punch out the kid down the block because he’s different from you and doesn’t like to play your games. It is YOU who have to get used to his difference and make peace with it.
    Chabon ends with this: “Let us shed our illusions, starting with ourselves, whoever we are and however august our inheritance of stupidity. Let us not forget the eternal hole in our human pocket. Let us not, henceforward, judge Israel or seek to have it judged for its intelligence, for its prowess, for its righteousness or for its moral authority, by any standard other than the pathetic, debased and rickety one that we apply, so inconsistently and self-servingly, to ourselves and to everybody else. And let us not forgive ourselves

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  5. nadine says:

    “Jeff, I know nothing about you, so this is directed at your comment about leftists. We do not want Jewish deaths, Palestinian deaths, Iraqi deaths, Iranian deaths, Afghan deaths, or in the case of the Gulf, avian and marine life deaths.” (David)
    Yeah, sure. That’s why you support Hamas, Hizbullah, Iraqi insurgents, Iranian ayatollahs, and any other groups of “pacifists” you can find to support. Because you don’t want deaths. But they do.
    You leftists are known by the company you keep. You are unmasking yourselves, day by day.

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  6. David says:

    Jeff, I know nothing about you, so this is directed at your comment about leftists. We do not want Jewish deaths, Palestinian deaths, Iraqi deaths, Iranian deaths, Afghan deaths, or in the case of the Gulf, avian and marine life deaths.
    Your comments are idiotic blather.
    Nadine, the Christian Zionists do, and you know damned well what it is they believe and why they support Israel as blindly as AIPAC, if not more blindly, no matter what it does. What in hell do Islamic fundamentalists have to do with the comment I made. All fundamentalists follow their own dyspeptic, misguided, anti-humanist belief systems, and they are all seriously problematic. Only the progressive, reformed branches of the various religions are worthy of the ideals various religions claim define them.

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  7. DonS says:

    “The all powerful US/Israel axis is shown up in their mealy mouthed self-excusing as a bunch of amoral pigs. And the Lobby can’t fix it.”
    Let me correct that:
    “The all powerful US/Israel, right wing Liikudist-neocon axis is shown up in their mealy mouthed self-excusing as a bunch of amoral pigs. And the Lobby can’t fix it.”

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  8. DonS says:

    Nadine, the Lobby can’t make this stupidity, being generous, go away . . . at least not quickly. Hopefully, never.
    Hey, hear what a landsman, Michael Chabon, has to say (don’t worry, he’s just saying Jews are as stupid as everybody else, and they ought to give up the idea of exceptionalism”):
    “This is, of course, the foundational ambiguity of Judaism and Jewish identity: the idea of chosenness, of exceptionalism, of the treasure that is a curse, the blessing that is a burden, of the setting apart that may presage redemption or extermination. To be chosen has been, all too often in our history, to be culled.
    “This is the ambiguity that cites the dispensation of God and history, of covenant and Holocaust, to lay claim to a special relationship between Jews and the Land of Israel, then protests when the world

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  9. DonS says:

    Nadine, you like it when the Lobby and the neocons do everything to advantage Israel, even starts a war with Iraq. Israel does something stupid, on its own, to which the world reacts with disgust, and suddenly you’re all over the US, Obama and any other excuse you can find for something the Lobby can’t just make go away. suck on that.

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  10. nadine says:

    Dirk, no incident in Afghanistan has received even 1% of the attention this flotilla is getting. The US just took out Said Al Masri, AQ’s latest #3, and at least a dozen of his friends and family. Yawn. Nobody cares. But Israeli soldiers DARE to defend their own lives from a lynch mob? World wide outrage. Now that the Israel haters smell weakness from Washington, the jackals are howling.

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  11. Dirk says:

    How does it work in Israel? (sweetness)
    It is true that gay and straight serve together in Israel but it should be noted that Dana International was summoned but ultimately excused from serving. Hmm.
    “Merkel where is the investigation on 150 afghans killed getting fuel. Of course not but you want one for israel.” (Jeff hyperventilates among other stupidity)
    Actually Jeff there were more than one investigation and at least one general and one cabinet member lost their jobs.

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  12. jeff says:

    The leftists wanted jewish deaths.
    They were cheering when jews died. Even though a lot of arabs died in israel from hezbollah rockets the left was silent.
    The left was cheering hezbollah’s victory.
    If that commando hadn’t shot all those militants a lot of israeli soldiers were about to die. One had a gun pointed at him. Many were on the ground in a weak position hit in the heat with metal bats.
    If a lot of israeli soldiers had died they would be having victory celebrations like they did in 2006.
    The left is obsessed with jews. Did you see the campaign against lieberman and the scarface attack. The leftist activists are obsessed with jews.
    The right has hispanics and the left has jews.
    Go to dailykos, democraticunderground and the anti semitism there is out of control.
    The left’s hypocrisy they support hamas anti gay party. They threw fatah from rooftops.
    And hamas lost the presidential election. They won the parliament and they had a coup against the executive.
    Hamas would get crushed in a new election polls show but they won’t have an election. they got 44 percent of the vote in the parliament election and the majority of the seats.

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  13. jeff says:

    Rockets fired as israeli kids go to school.
    thousands of ball bearings in these rockets. Schools have been hit in ashkelon, sderot, beersheva.
    Yet UK forces can go to war in iraq a country that never attacked them across the world.
    But israel can’t stop rockets going into gaza when a rocket team just the other day was taken out firing rockets.
    The world hypocrisy is out of control. grandsons and sons of the people that wiped out jews from europe with their absolute sickening hypocrisy.
    Nasrallah says he wants all the jews to come to europe so he can wipe them all out.
    Nasrallah who the left loves and celebrating his victory sent rockets through egypt to israel to hit israeli towns.
    Nasrallah saying this can break up the siege so more rockets can come in.
    Israel has to deal with iran, sadr, assad, nasrallah, meshaal. All these thugs support bashir in sudan.
    The left loves to talk about south africa comparisons but they never talk about how all these islamic leaders support the sudan butcher killing in darfur.
    I didn’t see hezbollah helping out in haiti.
    Enough is enough with the hypocrisy.
    The UN human rights council is a joke. Sudan never investigated.
    20,000 killed in sri lanka and they were praised.
    Iran never investigated for their jewish center bombing in argentina. Iran never investigated for training militias in genocide to wipe out sunnis in baghdad when the number 3 iranian diplomat was caught in baghdad with maps of where to wipe out sunnis in baghdad.
    Where are the UN investigations for 97 killed in afghanistan tents, 150 killed getting fuel, 30 civilians killed in buses.
    Never ever ever. The UN is a jew hating building.
    The UN human rights council is obsessed with israel.
    You have countries like sudan and pakistan drafting the resolutions against israel for another goldstone report.
    The unreal hypocrisy is out of control.
    This jew obsession in the media in europe is disproportionate compared to what happens in iraq, afgahnistan, somalia, pakistan, yemen.
    The guardian spends more time on israel than their own soldier massacres.
    50 investigations in afghanistan and another 50 in iraq have moved nowhere and guardian silient.
    Guardian will spend less than one millionith of the time on the kandahar attack vs israel.
    Guardian doesn’t talk about drones on pakistan.
    They are obsessed with israel. Enough is enough.
    The leftist in europe are seeing that the holocaust memories are gone and flexing their muscles with their absolute hypocrisy and disproportionate attention on israel.
    Merkel where is the investigation on 150 afghans killed getting fuel. Of course not but you want one for israel.
    The hypocrisy is out of control.

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  14. jeff says:

    Your hero obama fires rockets from drones in pakistani civilian areas from soldiers in las vegas.
    Countless times more than 9 have died in pakistan from these drones.
    97 killed in an attack on tents in afghanistan in 2009. 150 killed on people going to fuel depots.
    5,000 killed in fallujah. Massive amount of close combat civilian deaths.
    Kandahar attack will see the same thing.
    Shia militas with help from iran wiped out sunnis from baghdad.
    Why did they snatch relatives from the morgue and go into the hospitals. Why were hundreds of bodies dumped every day.
    U.S as you saw in the video in iraq was firing at wounded people in iraq from wikileaks. They weren’t in any danger.
    Yet soldiers in the night with soldiers on the ground knocked out with bats and being hit with bats on the head on the ground are questioned.
    Soldiers facing axes, knives, guns taken from them.
    Boats were hit with firebombs.
    18 to 22 year old soldiers watching their friends be thrown overboard are held to such a hypocritical standard while u.s shoots drone rockets in pakistan, iraq, and afghanistan from the safety of las vegas using halliburton.
    The hypocrisy from the media is unreal.
    The media comes from the same dna and culture that allowed jews to be wiped out from europe.
    These are the grandsons and sons flexing their muscles now against jews.
    Their hypocrisy is unreal. The British media are the worst example.
    You people spend ten thousand more time on israel 9 deaths than one million in iraq or all the drone killing in pakistan and all the massacres in pakistan.
    You people are obsessed with jews.
    Andrew Sullivan number one hypocrite. He supported the iraq war yet lectures about what a 20 year old soldier facing a mob on a ship does.
    It is unreal. The media needs to be protested for their jew obsession.
    They talk about disproportionate. How about how much time you spend talking about israel combat situations compared to american and british ones in iraq, afghanistan, somalia, yemen, pakistan.
    The hypocrisy is unreal. This jew obsession are the grandsons and sons of the same people that wiped out jews from europe flexing their muscles again. This time they are supporting the most anti semitic hezbollah and iran. Hezbollah has a musuem celebrating the holocaust. Iran had a cartoon contest on the holocaust. These people along with hamas and syria are budies with bashir of sudan.
    The leftist jew haters have joined the sadr’s, nasrallah’s of the world for holocaust 2.0.
    Nasrallah said he hopes everyone moves to israel so he can kill all the jews.
    Nasrallah was sending weapons to egypt to gaza and a hezbollah ship was stopped.
    Syria sent activists on this ship to take down the siege so they can get more rockets in.
    Hamas used a previous ship full of cement and tubing and rocket components for rockets.
    Cement used for rocket launchers, bunkers of long range rockets that can hit tel aviv’s airport and dimona.
    Islamic Jihad in gaza firing rockets all the time at chemical facilities in southern israel.
    The leftists are obsessed with israel. they don’t send ships to afghanistan or iraq. No israel, israel, israel, israel.
    The leftists of today love the gay hating, sudan loving, holocaust denying hezbollah and iranian president to break the blockade and get more rockets in.
    This group said after the last ship was stopped last year that next year there would be violence.
    They were offered to use egypt’s port and have egypt check it with the un and red cross and refused.
    Gaza’s port wasn’t even ready. They wanted a confrontation. Ashdod port was offered and red cross and un would have inspected the cargo.
    But no they wanted this. They had all the media there and said they would film the encourter.
    It was all planned for their to be a mob.
    Casings different than idf used were found on the ships. Guns were thrown overboard. A soldier coming around the corner was shot at. Two soldiers had gun shot wounds going down at the begginning after they were beat on the ground wiht metal bats.
    3 soldiers were kidnapped with ones ear being cut off.
    Two guns were taken off the soldiers and they fired all the bullets. Salah the israeli arab leader tried to stand between the shooter and the israeli commandos after they were shot at.
    Shooting from israeli side didn’t start until two soldiers had wounds from bullets.
    Just so happens that 9 men from the turkish charity were the only ones that died.
    U.S and UK forces pepper villages in afghanistan.
    97 died in tents in afghanistan that wikileaks will be showing a video and it won’t get one millionith of the coverage.
    The media of today is obsessed with jews. After all the grandsons and sons of the people that wiped out jews from europe are back again with their jew obsession.
    merkel lectured israel for international probe but no probe of 150 dead afghans getting fuel with an order from germany forces.
    The hypocrisy is unreal and jews need to be on guard. The leftists and the islamic radicals are flexing their muscles. Never again.

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  15. nadine says:

    David, one thing fundamentalist Islamic cultures do NOT hew to is Old Testament doctrine. They don’t even read the Old Testament or regard it as scripture.
    Don Bacon, there are a lot of estimates floating around. 4,000 is one. 7,000 is another. I wouldn’t trust any of them, but the number is pretty high. If you Google “iran executed homsexuals” and you can see that it makes the news on a rather routine basis, and the human rights activists say it is common.
    “Call me crazy, but at least one of Nadine’s posts doesn’t sound legit.” (Maw)
    Okay, Maw, I’ll call you crazy. All the nadine posts were by me.

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  16. David says:

    Fundamentalist anti-gay homophobia is widespread. Luckily in the United States those folks are not permitted to take any kind of violent action against gays, and if they do, they pay dearly before the law. Beyond that, they inflict a great deal of pain on gays and so far have successfully helped prevent full citizenship rights for gays (by that I mean full rights to everything to which straight people are entitled). Fundamentalist Islamic cultures like Iran do not offer such protections, and in fact hew to Old Testament doctrine in their fundamentalist Islamic dementia. But don’t kid yourself that a portion of radical reactionary Christians wouldn’t countenance the same thing if they could get away with it.

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  17. Don Bacon says:

    nadine: “I have seen estimates that the current regime has executed about 7000 men for homosexuality.”
    Well I guess you can take that to the bank, if nadine has seen it. (just kidding)
    Truth — it’s so elusive. It was here a minute ago, now where could it be?

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  18. Maw of America says:

    Hmm. Call me crazy, but at least one of Nadine’s posts doesn’t sound legit. It just doesn’t read like an authentic Nadine post.
    Apropos of the topic, I just saw the “Frontline” episode about the dancing boys of Afghanistan. Now that was some weird stuff. I have to believe there are some very odd predilections in the Middle East that may an outgrowth of the repression of women and their sexuality.
    Calling Dr. Kinsey! Or Woody Allen!

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  19. nadine says:

    If you’ll recall, Ahmedinejad’s claims that there were no homosexuals in Iran was met with incredulity and laughter at Columbia. Homosexuality — under whatever notion — is punishable by death under Sharia. I have seen estimates that the current regime has executed about 7000 men for homosexuality.

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  20. Paul Norheim says:

    “The comment can be interpreted in two ways; Ahmadinejad
    might be saying that homosexual acts don’t take place in Iran
    (which is clearly ridiculous) or he might mean that there is no “gay
    culture” in Iran similar to the gay culture that is now ubiquitous in
    the West. If that’s what he meant, Ahmadinejad might actually be
    right. The Iranian notion of homosexuality might be more in line
    with the ancient concept that Wilkerson describes in his post and
    Nadine describes in her remark.”
    That’s an excellent point, WigWag.

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  21. Robbie says:

    I would contend that men and women and their sexuality are so incredibly different that most people on the planet don’t have a clue how that works. I would also contend that the theatre of war is somewhat disjointed – as life in prison in many case. Applying any sort of single dictum to curb sexual activities is ridiculous. Yet the facts are quite startling when it comes to how men treat women in the military and should be part of the discussion. Rapes and assaults are so illuminating and ought to be the integral piece of the puzzle, unless, of course, we are only determined to build a military of murderers and rapists.

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  22. Robbie says:

    It is hardly only Republicans who are homophobic, or who are against giving gay people the freedoms of heterosexuals. I know very few Democrats who are willing to demand, or even suggest for that matter, equal rights for gays. You might even say it is in the DNA of our culture to treat sexuality as an us against them duality. The pathetic understanding of sexuality in general in our society is pervasive. Yet we continue to demonstrate the most screwed up cultural malaise since Alexander and his cronies shared intimacies.

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  23. WigWag says:

    How does it work in Israel? (Sweetness)
    In Israel, gay and straight soldiers serve together and bunk together without incident. If you are interested in the subject, there was a wonderful little movie by Israeli director, Eytan Fox, called “Yossi & Jagger” that was released in 2002. It’s available on Netflix; here’s the link to the wiki on the movie in case you

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  24. sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “But if somebody is openly gay today, wouldn’t
    bunking him with other straight and gay men be like bunking
    women and men together? Aren’t you asking for trouble?”
    How does it work in Israel?

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  25. David Billington says:

    “But if somebody is openly gay today, wouldn’t bunking him with
    other straight and gay men be like bunking women and men
    together? Aren’t you asking for trouble?”
    The armed forces of other advanced democratic countries have
    integrated openly gay service members successfully.

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  26. WigWag says:

    Another gay warrior with a fierce and successful reputation was T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence whipped the nomadic Arab tribes allied with Britain into shape and led them into battle against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. In many ways, Lawrence is the “George Washington” of the Arabs.
    While living amongst the Arabs, Lawrence fell in love with a young, 16 year old Syrian boy, Selim Ahmed (Lawrence was 23 at the time). They were inseparable until Lawrence had to return to London temporarily to meet with the War Office. While he was gone, Ahmed, who Lawrence referred to as his “little dark boy” or “Dahoum” died of typhus.
    Lawrence was devastated; later he dedicated his famous book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” to “SA” which was clearly a reference to Ahmed.
    Lawrence never admitted his sexuality; remember this all took place only a few decades after the trial of Oscar Wilde for the “crime that dare not speak its name.”
    But there is very little doubt that Lawrence was both gay and a fierce and successful warrior.

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  27. David says:

    Excellent post. And Wilkerson has it right about where ignorance lies, most of it intentional ignorance. When one’s reading/listening is restricted to Ayn Rand and whomever/whatever fits a narrow range of thinking, one simply cannot be called educated in any meaningful sense of the word.

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  28. DonS says:

    “Now, it could be argued that most Republicans and Tea Party members are not like Powell and me; that is they have never read a history book.”
    Apologize? Really Wig there are far more things to get offended about than this. Sometimes your feigned propriety is so quaint; it has such a darling knife edge. Certainly looking at the knuckle dragging behavior of many Republicans and tea partiers, race baiting, gay bashing, violence promoting or abetting behavior, the remark is understandable. Of course the squishy, stand for nothing democrats have there own vulnerabilities.
    But on this issues it has been Republicans playing the most offensive, really ignorant, backlash inciting, politics.

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  29. Ty Lookwell says:

    Colin Powell, showing the kind of public bravery way back in 1993 that has marked his long and successful career.

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  30. WigWag says:

    “Gilgamesh” provides another excellent example of extraordinarily fierce gay or bisexual warriors.
    The story, which is based on an actual historical figure, a Uruk King, was first etched in stone on 11 tablets in 2700 BC.
    Gilgamesh takes Enkidu as his lover and best friend after defeating him in a joust. Gilgamesh, the King, is a renowned warrior who never loses a battle; but he is amazed at the incredible fight that Enkidu puts up. After their joust the King and his lover are inseparable.
    Enkidu is a savage but Gilgamesh teaches him how to live like a civilized person and takes him into his castle. Gilgamesh and Enkidu fight many valiant battles together including their greatest battle against the monster, Humbaba.
    Eventually Enkidu dies and Gilgamesh is devastated. In a scene that foreshadows the visits to Hades by Ulysses in “The Odyssey” and Aeneis in “The Aeneid,” Gilgamesh travels to the underworld to learn the secret to immortality. Of course, he never finds it.
    It’s hard to imagine fiercer warriors than Gilgamesh and Enkidu and its difficult or impossible to come to any conclusion other than the fact that they were gay lovers.

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  31. nadine says:

    The Thebans didn’t just theorize; they had the Sacred Band, which was made up entirely of sworn lovers. Alexander exterminated it at Chaeronea. And don’t forget the Spartans, who as part of the normal training of a warrior (the agoge), would pair a 12 year old with a warrior in his early 20s, with the expectation that the man would become both teacher and lover to the boy.
    The Greeks, Romans and Persians accepted bisexuality as the norm. Their norm was a boy and a man, not two men. As in the Mideast today, you weren’t really a homosexual so long as you didn’t act ‘the woman’s part’ after you became a man.
    However, we have to deal with a factor that didn’t exist in ancient times. Homosexual acts may be as old as the hills, but a permanent gay identity that tries to mirror a straight identity is something new. Certainly Alexander would have looked at you like you had two heads if you had suggested that he get married to Hephaistion! Having a lover had nothing to do with getting married in the ancient world. But if somebody is openly gay today, wouldn’t bunking him with other straight and gay men be like bunking women and men together? Aren’t you asking for trouble?
    “Now, it could be argued that most Republicans and Tea Party members are not like Powell and me; that is they have never read a history book. Their actions routinely seem to corroborate this fact. ”
    Asswipe! Keep telling yourself that. The Tea Partiers know ten times more history than the whole pathetic socialist Obama administration, that’s why they want to check it before it wrecks what is left of Constitutional government. Keep telling yourself how smart and superior you are. We’re getting the message out here in flyover country, loud and clear. You’ll get our message in November.

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  32. Don Bacon says:

    Colin Powell, speak up, man. This is your time.

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  33. WigWag says:

    “Many of these stalwart soldiers were gay. I dare say–again, if history’s recorders are to be trusted–that many were bisexual, as apparently was Alexander himself, but to a man they probably had had at one time or another sexual relations with other men. As the Thebans, another Greek outfit of enormous prowess, used to theorize, perhaps these relationships even made them fiercer warriors.” (Lawrence Wilkerson)
    Exactly right! And don’t forget another fierce bisexual warrior from biblical times, King David, who almost certainly took Jonathan as his lover. (See First Samuel).
    This is an excellent post, but this remark was gratuitous and Wilkerson should apologize for it,
    “Now, it could be argued that most Republicans and Tea Party members are not like Powell and me; that is they have never read a history book.”
    Just because people disagree with you doesn’t make them stupid or uneducated; in this case it just makes them wrong.

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