Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now that you don't have to ask

As "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- which barred openly homosexual men and women from serving in the military -- is repealed, I've been curious to see the general media and social network conversations that are taking place. And what I'm finding is not surprising -- today's repeal is being seen as a "victory" for gay rights and a "defeat" for America's entire military system. (What's next for Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Read more here.)

My investigation wouldn't stand up to any social science scrutiny, so I'm not pretending that what I'm reading is the be-all-and-end-all conversation. But that winner/loser angle is, in my opinion, short-sighted (however typical in today's media climate) because it equates the issue to a sporting event.

In such a context, today the "left" won a quasi-national championship while the "right" is left to wonder how could this happen? The short answer, according to one person, is that:
...the message is no longer resonating the way it did in 1993.

In 1993 a Democrat-controlled Congress banned homosexuals from serving in the U.S. military. But today, a Gallup poll released on December 9 shows that two-thirds (67%) of the country have no moral conviction that banning homosexuals from the military is a just policy.
At least one conservative columnist is outraged. John Guardiano suggests that the GOP had the (moral and political) lead on this issue but squandered it.
[Various Republican politicians] become pathetically inarticulate and tongue-tied — and, therefore, de facto left-libertarians — on social and cultural issues. And I include here most conservative journalists.

Given this sad trajectory, it is only a matter of time before “gay marriage” becomes the social and legal norm in all of America, and “Heather Has Two Mommies” a noncontroversial cultural touchstone.

Conservatives like [South Carolina senator Lindsey] Graham and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels want to avoid talking about social and cultural issues; but that’s exactly the wrong thing to do.
Another Daily Caller columnist is even more upset. Darin Selnick argues that
This is not about what is good for the country or the military; it is about jamming the Democrats’ left-wing, radical social agenda down the throats of the American people. This is a wake-up call for social conservatives that we are in a culture war that the left will not give up on despite suffering historic losses in the November midterms.
A culture war? As you consider that, please also recognize that there is the real potential for some elite colleges to once again allow ROTC units on their grounds. Typical liberal higher education, someone is surely thinking. But if college administrators are "guilty" of being closed minded about military units on campus, then aren't cultural conservatives equally "guilty" of being closed minded about gays in the military?

It's only when reasoned conversation about a topic takes place that reasonable ideas come forward. But that will never happen when they are framed as sporting events. Nor will they take place when one side or the other presumes it has exclusive domain over the solution to the issue on the table.

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