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December 19, 2010
End of DADT: The Final Blow Against Cultural Conservatism
The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military is over. The lame-duck Senate passed legislation ending the policy today by the overwhelming margin of 65-31; all that awaits is President Obama's signature, which is a certainty. The legislation couldn't have passed without Republicans, including the Tea Party insurgent Scott Brown and Mark Kirk, who won Obama's old Illinois seat in November. It fell to the doddering old war hero and loser of 2008, John McCain, to argue against the policy (and McCain's position was undermined by his wife's and his daughter's public opposition to DADT).
The end of DADT will be hailed as a groundbreaking achievement, like the racial desegregation of the military in 1948. But race is an involuntary characteristic that becomes irrelevant so long as the minority service member conforms to the military's behavioral and performance norms. Proclaiming one's sexual orientation and acting upon it is voluntary, not involuntary. Thus, homosexuals will be given not equality, but preferential treatment, based on chosen behavior. Why, then, draw the line at homosexuality? Why should the military discriminate against service members who announce proclivities for transsexuality, polygamy, bestiality or pedophilia?
What will be the effect of the end of DADT? The short-term effects will probably be minimal. The military won't be overrun by homosexuals anytime soon. It's unlikely that very many gays, who constitute a tiny fraction of the population, want to serve in the military anyway. But the cultural shift in the military will be dramatic. The military will be forced to deal with issues like anti-gay discrimination (real or imagined), how to deal with transsexuals, gay marriage, and benefits for gay partners. There will be gay affirmative-action quotas, gay cliques and subcultures, and you can be sure that in the future, there'll be some gay equivalent of the "Tailhook" scandal. A military that is in the process of losing it's second decade-long war in Asia to ragtag insurgents needs none of this. But the military, with its "can-do" ethos, will deal with it.
The consequences for cultural conservatism are much more acute, though. Repeal of DADT means that homosexuality will officially no longer constitute "conduct unbecoming" of a professional soldier. This amounts to a de facto sanction of homosexuality as normal and acceptable.
With the repeal of DADT, cultural conservatives will no longer control any institutions in American society. The military, the last bastion of cultural conservatism to which Americans rallied en masse after 9/11, has now been conscripted by the Left. The military is the final institution to fall in what Roger Kimball described as the "Long March" of cultural Leftism through America's institutions that began in the Sixties. The academy, the churches, the courts and the government have long since fallen.
In the 30 years since the election of Reagan, cultural conservatives have failed to overturn Roe v. Wade, suppress pornography, stop gay marriage, or make a serious dent in the use of illegal drugs. Conservative activist Paul Weyrich noted that Clinton's high public approval rating in the wake of the Lewinsky sex scandal meant that a "Moral Majority" no longer existed in the U.S.
Polls indicating overwhelming public support for ending DADT reaffirm that Weyrich's observation was surely correct.