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  General Pace and Political Correctness
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 3/22/07

It’s tough being a high ranking official today. It’s not enough to be honest; you have to be politically correct to survive. That means carefully screening your planned remarks to be certain they offend no recognized minority. This comes easy to silver-tongued politicians. It’s harder for career military officers who are socialized to speak with candor.

General Peter Pace, the first Marine to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently expressed his support for the military’s “don’t ask—don’t tell” policy. In response to a question, he added his personal belief that homosexual acts were immoral and that military policy should not be modified to support immoral acts. The gay community, of course, was outraged, touching off yet another campaign to overthrow the policy.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

The general did not say that gays were bad or immoral people. He said homosexual acts were immoral. Here’s a news flash for the gay activists and their advocates who branded him a bigot and demanded an apology. Millions and millions of people agree with him for the simple reason that they have been taught by their religions that homosexual acts are indeed immoral and sinful. Many of them believe that adultery, premarital sex and abortion are immoral, too. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that they challenge the right of other Americans to believe otherwise. Nor does it mean that they condone acts of prejudice against them. Most are taught to love the sinner but hate the sin. Deeply held religious convictions are not easily changed or even suppressed for the sake of political correctness and tolerance.

General Pace wishes he hadn’t added his personal opinion and he probably shouldn’t have but we have reached a sorry state in the spread of political correctness if one has to apologize for a expressing a personal moral belief. His remarks added fuel to the ongoing assault on a military policy that has worked tolerably well for fifteen years and which has permits gays to serve honorably without openly celebrating their lifestyle. A brief review of some of the background for the policy may be helpful.

Shortly after his election as president, Bill Clinton removed the ban on gays serving in the military. He did so by executive order, without any significant consultation with military leaders. This major reversal of a longstanding policy came as the services were trying to adjust to the integration of women into non-traditional operational roles including combat and was widely viewed in the services as another assault on the warrior culture. The ensuing outrage expressed at all levels of the military threatened to destroy morale and the executive order was withdrawn. In its place was substituted the current “don’t ask—don’t tell” policy which provided tacit recognition to the fact that many gays had served and were still serving honorably and even heroically in the armed forces without publicly proclaiming their sexual orientation. It did not, however, result in any re-writing of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which prohibits certain sexual acts commonly practiced by homosexuals.

It was a compromise that pleased no one, least of all, gay activists and their advocates, most of whom didn’t have a clue as what the military culture was about and what conditions existed in the field and on board Navy ships and submarines. They wanted nothing less than full acceptance of homosexuality as a wholesome alternative to heterosexuality. They viewed the military establishment as the last major bastion of resistance. Most candidates for the Democratic nomination for president have expressed an intention to eliminate the ban on open gays serving in the military. They should carefully consider the implications of such a move because the policy will not go quietly.

For one thing, many servicemen, products of traditional homes and conservative religious upbringing, will continue to believe, as they were taught, that homosexual conduct is morally wrong and they will not be comfortable living in close quarters with openly gay individuals. No one who has not experienced the intimate living conditions in the field or in a Navy ship or submarine on extended deployment has any concept of the total lack of privacy that exists. Segregating female and male berthing, bathing and toilet areas was difficult enough given the space constraints. Many straight service members would argue that they would be entitled to some privacy, also, if openly gay people are to be integrated into crews

A common argument for elimination of the ban centers on the notion that everyone has a right to serve in the military. Not so. The military discriminates, if you will, on the basis of age, weight, intelligence, height, vision, physical handicap, aptitude, number of teeth and dozens of other criteria. The sole purpose of maintaining the armed forces is to fight and win wars or, hopefully, by maintaining their strength and morale, to prevent wars in the first place. They should not be used as vehicles for social change. Gay activists argue that this same argument was used to keep women and African Americans from unrestricted service. They’re right and it should not be used to keep gays from serving today if they are qualified. The current policy permits that so long as they decline to make a public issue out of their sexual orientation. What the policy does not do is provide the endorsement of the Department of Defense of their lifestyle and of homosexual acts. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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