A Stronger Military

Editorial

Published February 03, 2010, issue of February 12, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Finally, nearly 16 years after the foolhardy “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was enacted by Congress, the nation’s top two defense officials have called for an end to the pretense that somehow America’s military is better off if gay and lesbian service members keep their identities a secret.

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, eloquently told a Senate committee on February 2.

But the reason to repeal the ban on allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly isn’t just about feelings and fairness. It’s also about maintaining a strong military staffed by a devoted, talented corps of Americans, no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation. A nation that refuses to enact a draft while fighting two, difficult wars cannot afford to lose a single good soldier. Yet more than 13,000 have been discharged under the current policy, including much-needed Arabic translators. And the experience of many other nations without similarly restrictive policies — including Israel — proves that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly does not have to weaken unit cohesion, harm morale or jeopardize national security.

Even with Mullen’s unequivocal stand and Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s promise to study how, not if, to implement the change, repeal of the 1994 law still faces congressional opposition of the sort all too common these days. Illustrative is Senator John McCain of Arizona, a Republican who was for the repeal but is now is against it.

He is swimming against history. At its best, the American military has been a powerful positive force for integration, for allowing men, and then women, to be judged by what they do, not who they are. There should be no room for inappropriate behavior from anyone, straight or gay, but that — and that alone — should be the measure to ensure a true meritocracy and a force strong enough to defend the nation.

Mullen acknowledged that he has served with homosexuals since 1968. Everyone in the military has. It’s time for this fiction to end.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.