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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Don’t Even Pretend to Be Fair–Part I: Don’t Ask

Posted on February 13 2010 5:30 am
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The media has told us what the Navy’s top admiral, Mike Mullen, thinks about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; but why is the media censoring other, contrary military voices?

Regardless of whether you are for or against open homosexuality in the military, you have to be dismayed at how badly biased media coverage of this issue has become. Indeed, it seems that, to the Big Media, there is only one legitimate and morally correct point of view, and that is to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and to allow gays to serve openly within the ranks.

The Washington Post, for instance, published a symposium on Feb. 7 entitled, “How to Change ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” Not one of the Posts’s six contributors defends the current policy of permitting gays to serve discreetly, but not openly — and none of the contributors even tries to grapple with the arguments and reasons for keeping the U.S. military free of open homosexuality.

Instead, the contributors all blithely assume that every bright and reasonable, good and decent person must be all for allowing gays to serve openly — and that opponents of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must be reactionary reprobates.

In fact, one contributor, Michael Buonocore, dismisses supporters of the current policy as mere obstructionists who have “petty concerns,” which the senior brass would do well to immediately bulldoze over and destroy.

“Many in the military don’t feel the way [that Admiral Mike] Mullen does; but that really does not mater.”

Mullen, of course, favors open homosexuality in the military; however, the other service chiefs — for the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps — reportedly do not agree with him.

Buonocore, meanwhile,  is identified as a former Marine Corps officer who last year served in Afghanistan, but who is now a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Buonocore is one of several junior military officers whom the Big Media publicize and promote because of their socially liberal views.

I don’t doubt Buonocore’s sincerity; however, I do find his airy dismissal of 235-plus years of U.S. military history arrogant and frightening — and wrong. Indeed, the Marine Corps says that the most dangerous thing on the battlefield is a brand new Second Lieutenant, fresh out of the Basic School, who thinks he knows everything.

Similarly, I would argue, the most dangerous thing in the public-policy arena is a young and recent junior military officer who thinks that we can and should upend longstanding U.S. military policy so that said policy corresponds with what he thinks are his morally and intellectually superior views.

So before we change a policy that most soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines believe has been successful, how about having a free and fair, open and honest, informed and substantive, freewheeling and robust debate?

Shouldn’t such a debate, in fact, be required before changing any successful and longstanding military policy? And shouldn’t the media help to effect (instead of stymie) such a debate?

In Part II of this series we’ll examine how the media is publicizing only its favored voices and censoring dissent to create a false sense of inevitability about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

John R. Guardiano is an Arlington, Virginia-based journalist and analyst. He served as a Marine in Iraq and is still a military reservist. Follow him on Twitter.

Other installments in this series, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Don’t Even Pretend to Be Fair”:

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