DADT: American Conservatism, Still Riding the Backwash of History

Saturday, of course, with the Senate’s vote to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, was a great day in American history, and in the human progress toward a fully humane identity. We need to recall it, along with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, when we feel overwhelmed, as is often so, by the small and sometimes vile minds around us. For it was another ugly day, too, in the sordid history of American conservatism and its long record of opposition to that humane progress. Said Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association,

We are now stuck with sexual deviants serving openly in the U.S. military because of turncoat Republican senators.

(Dictionary definition of “deviant”: “departing from usual or accepted standards, esp. in social or sexual behavior.” “Deviant” is not name calling, it is truth-telling.)

No one would think for a moment that Fisher meant to connote anything , well, if not “deviant,” then what  – icky? – in his use of the word deviant, but he is still wrong. “Usual” does not mean “normal” in either the statistical or non-name calling, name calling sense Fischer no doubt hoped to convey. It means “common” and “ordinary,” and as much as it distresses him to consider, homosexuality has been common and ordinary across the ages and the species. As for “accepted standards,” maybe not in the pre-desegregation world Fischer would prefer still to inhabit, but in the twenty-first century U.S., it is accepted.

Of the eight Republican who voted to repeal, Fischer said,

If these traitors to national defense had voted in line with the Republican Party platform, the cloture motion would have received just 57 votes and would have failed.

John McCain did not just think the decision practically misguided. No, he said,

Today is a very sad day.

McCain did not always feel that way. He did not always feel and think and support a lot of the things he does today, and is there anyone, anywhere who believes that any of his changes are changes of principle? Has there ever been an American politician once so respected by so many, whatever his views, for his independence and straight-talking political integrity who has shamed himself so thoroughly with a fool’s rashness and a base and bitter ambition to political survival in his later years? Gays and lesbians will live out their full rights and humanity despite him. Once, he might have been an Eisenhower. He opted instead for Jesse Helms.

AJA

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