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Why I oppose repealing DADT & passage of the DREAM Act

Why I oppose repealing DADT & passage of the Dream Act

Tamara K. Nopper

September 19, 2010

One of the first books I read about Asian American feminism was the anthology Dragon ladies: Asian American feminists breathe fire.  In one of the essays, author Juliana Pegues describes scenes from a “radical Asian women’s movement.”  One such scene involves lesbian and bisexual Asian and Pacific Islanders marching at Gay Pride with signs reading “Gay white soldiers in Asia?  Not my liberation!” and “ends with the absence of all soldiers, gay and straight, from any imperialist army.”

Although it has been over a decade since I read this passage, I return to this “scene” as I watch far too many liberals and progressives praise the possible repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) as well as the possible passage of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).

In some ways, I understand why people are supportive of such gestures.  The idea that certain identities and status categories, such as gay or lesbian or (undocumented) immigrants are either outlawed or treated as social problems has rightfully generated a great deal of sympathy.  And the very real ways that people experience marginalization or discrimination—ranging from a lack of certain rights to violence, including death—certainly indicates that solutions are needed. Further, far too many non-whites have experienced disproportionate disadvantages, surveillance, and discipline from both DADT and anti-immigrant legislation.  For example, Black women, some of whom are not lesbians, have been disproportionately discharged from the U.S. military under DADT.  And anti-immigrant legislation, policing measures, and vigilante xenophobic racism is motivated by and reinforces white supremacy and white nationalism.

Yet both the repeal of DADT and the passage of the DREAM Act will increase the size and power of the U.S. military and the Department of Defense, which is already the largest U.S. employer. Repealing DADT will make it easier for gays and lesbians to openly serve and the Dream Act in its present incarnation may provide a pathway to  legal residency and possibly citizenship for some undocumented immigrant young people if they serve two years in the U.S. military or spend an equal amount of time in college.

Unsurprisingly, the latter, being pushed by Democrats, is getting support from “many with close ties to the military and higher education.”  As the Wall Street Times reports:

Pentagon officials support the Dream Act. In its strategic plan for fiscal years 2010-2012, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness cited the Dream Act as a ‘smart’ way to attract quality recruits to the all-volunteer force…

‘Passage of the Dream Act would be extremely beneficial to the U.S. military and the country as a whole,’ said Margaret Stock, a retired West Point professor who studies immigrants in the military. She said it made ‘perfect’ sense to attach it to the defense-authorization bill.

Louis Caldera, secretary of the Army under President Bill Clinton, said that as they struggled to meet recruiting goals, ‘recruiters at stations were telling me it would be extremely valuable for these patriotic people to be allowed to serve our country.’

Additionally, in a 2009 Department of Defense strategic plan report, the second strategic goal, “Shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force,”  lists the DREAM Act as a possible recruitment tool under one of the “performance objectives”:

Recruit the All-Volunteer Force by finding smart ways to sustain quality assurance even as we expand markets to fill manning at controlled costs as demonstrated by achieving quarterly recruiting quality and quantity goals, and through expansion of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program and the once-medically restricted populations, as well as the DREAM initiative.

What concerns me is that far too many liberals and progressives, including those who serve as professional commentators on cable news and/or progressive publications (and some with a seemingly deep affinity for the Democratic Party) have been praising the passage of the DREAM Act.  Unsurprising is that many of the same people support the repeal of DADT.  While a  sincere concern about discrimination may unite both gestures, so too does a lack of critical perspective regarding the U.S. military as one of the main vehicles in the expansion and enforcement of U.S. imperialism, heterosexuality, white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and repression against political dissent and people’s movements in the United States and abroad. Far too many liberals and progressives, including those critical of policies or the squashing of political dissent, take an ambivalent stance on the U.S. military.  It is unclear what makes some of these folks unwilling to openly oppose the military state.  Perhaps it’s easier than dealing with the backlash from a variety of people, including the many people of color and/or women who are now building long-term careers in the military.  Or maybe it’s more amenable to building careers as pundits in both corporate and progressive media,  both of which may be critical of some defense spending or “wasted” (read unsuccessful) military efforts but not necessarily of U.S. militarism.

Whatever the case, the inclusion of more gays and lesbians and/or undocumented immigrant youth in the U.S. military is not an ethical project given that both gestures are willing to have our communities serve as mercenaries in exchange for certain rights, some of which are never fully guaranteed in a homophobic and white supremacist country.  Nor is it pragmatic.  By supporting the diversification of the U.S. military we undermine radical democratic possibilities by giving the military state more people, many of whom will ultimately die in combat or develop PTSD and health issues and/or continue nurturing long-term relationships with the U.S. military, including a political affinity with its culture and goals.  We will also have a more difficult time challenging projects of privatization, the incurring of huge amounts of debt, and the erosion of rights and protections in other countries—efforts buttressed by the threat of military action—which ultimately affects people in the United States.

Of course I am not the first person to raise these concerns.  As the comment from Pegues, with which I began, reveals, there are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks, many of them non-white and non-middle class, who promote a queer politic that challenges the heternormative desires of mainstream movements, including that pushed by some LGBT organizations and their purported “allies” within the Democratic party and heternormative people of color organizations.  Some of these folks organize for better economic opportunities, access to housing, and safer existences in the civilian sector for poor and working-class LGBTs.  And some also  openly oppose military recruitment or challenge the push for gays and lesbians to (openly) serve in the military by countering  with “Don’t serve” as a slogan. For example, Cecilia Lucas, who grew up in a military family, writes in a 2010 Counter Punch article:

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is bad policy. It encourages deceit and, specifically, staying in the closet, which contributes to internalized as well as public homophobia, thus perpetuating discrimination and violence against LGBT people. Banning gay people from serving in the military, however, is something I support. Not because I’m anti-gay, nope, I’m one of those queer folks myself. I’m also a woman and would support a law against women serving in the military. Not because I think women are less capable. I would support laws against any group of people serving in the military: people of color, tall people, people between the ages of 25 and 53, white men, poor people, people who have children, people who vote for Democrats—however you draw the boundaries of a group, I would support a law banning them from military service. Because I support outlawing the military. And until that has happened, I support downsizing it by any means necessary, including, in this one particular arena, sacrificing civil rights in the interest of human rights…

It is tricky to write an essay that accepts discrimination as a means to an end. In what remains a homophobic, racist, sexist society, I fear enabling a slippery slope of arguments for identity-based discrimination. Although, of course, the entire notion of citizens who are “protected” by a military discriminates against people based on the identity factor of nationality. Hence my point about human rights trumping civil rights. My argument that we should be fighting against, not for, gay people’s inclusion in the military is not actually about gay people at all. Nor is it about wanting others to do our dirty work for us. As I said, I think everyone should be banned from military service. But if the goal is demilitarization, fighting for even more people to have the right to join the military makes no sense. There are plenty of other civil rights denied gay people for which we still need to fight—civil rights that do not trample on others’ human rights.

As Lucas’s comments reveal, opposing LGBT folks from serving openly in the military is not to condone the harassment and unfair surveillance that they experience; nor is it meant to support a culture that suggests they should stay in the closet in the name of military stability and national security.  Rather, it is to discourage the attractiveness of military enlistment as well as martial citizenship, a process that  provides marginalized groups a “pathway to citizenship” via military service.  More, opposition to people serving in the military is also grounded in an understanding that the military negatively impacts practically everyone in the world (including those in the United States), and in particular people of color and/or women and/or gays and lesbians, and not just those who are discriminated against while serving or who are expected to serve as pathways to citizenship or access to education.

Along with folks like Lucas, there are immigrants and their allies challenging us to rethink the possible passage of the DREAM Act because of its pro-military provision and for basically “making a pool of young, bilingual, U.S.-educated, high-achieving students available to the recruiters.” Some have withdrawn their support for the current version of the act in objection to its terms.   For example, a letter from one such person, Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa,  states:

Passage of the DREAM Act would definitely be a step forward in the struggle for Migrant Justice. Yet the politicians in Washington have hijacked this struggle from its original essence and turned dreams into ugly political nightmares. I refuse to be a part of anything that turns us into political pawns of dirty Washington politics. I want my people to be “legalized” but at what cost? We all want it bad. I hear it. I’ve lived it. but I think it’s a matter of how much we’re willing to compromise in order to win victories or crumbs…So if I support the DREAM Act, does this mean I am okay with our people being used as political pawns? Does this mean that my hands will be smeared with the same bloodshed the U.S. spills all over the world? Does this mean I am okay with blaming my mother and my father for migrating “illegally” to the U.S.? Am I willing to surrender to all that in exchange for a benefit? Maybe it’s easier for me to say that “I can” because I have papers, right? I’d like to think that it’s because my political principles will not allow me to do so, regardless of my citizenship status or personal benefit at stake. Strong movements that achieve greater victories are those that stand in solidarity with all oppressed people of the world and never gain access to rights at the expense of other oppressed groups.

I have come to a deeply painful decision: I can no longer in good political conscience support the DREAM Act because the essence of a beautiful dream has been detained by a colonial nightmare seeking to fund and fuel the U.S. empire machine.

Unfortunately, the willingness of folks like Lucas and Al-qaraz Ochoa as well as others to critically engage  military diversification or the passage of the DREAM Act given its military provisions have gotten less air time or attention among liberal and progressives actively pushing for both measures.  In terms of repealing DADT, it is unfortunately not surprising that the rejection of military inclusion by LGBT folks has gotten minimal attention from professional progressives, some of whom are straight.  Too many straight people who profess to be LGBT allies tend to align themselves with the liberal professional wings of LGBT politics given shared bourgeois notions of “respectable” (i.e., not offensive to straight people) gay politics that also promote a middle-class notion of democracy—and supports the Democratic Party.  Additionally, it’s more time efficient to find out what professional LGBT organizations think since they are more likely to have resources to make it easier to learn their agendas without as much effort as learning from those who politically labor in the margins of the margins given their critical stances toward the political mainstream.  Yet given the tendency for many professional progressives to be on the internet and social media sites, it is a bit telling that many have supported DADT without addressing the critical stances of some LGBT folks against the military state that are easily available on the internet.  This noticeable lack of engagement raises some questions: Why is it that the straight progressives are more willing to have gays and lesbians serve in the U.S. military (or get married) than, let’s say, breaking bread with and seriously considering the political views of LGBT folks who take radical political stances against the military state (as well as engage in non-middle-class aesthetics)?  And why do many straight progressives fight for LGBT folks to openly serve in the military—one of the most dangerous employment sites that requires its laborers to kill and control others, including non-whites and/or LGBTs, in the name of empire—but rarely discuss how working-class, poor, and/or of color LGBTs are treated and politically organize for opportunities in the civilian sector job market where they are also expected to remain closeted, subject to homophobic harassment and surveillance, or excluded  altogether?

Also concerning is the willingness of many progressives to support the DREAM Act despite it possibly being tied up to a defense-authorization bill and having support from a diverse group of people united by a commitment to military recruitment.  While some support is due to a righteous critique of white supremacy that shapes pathways to citizenship, some (also) support the DREAM Act because it serves as a form of “reparations” for foreign policies and colonialism toward third world or developing countries once called home to many of the immigrant youth or their families targeted by the  legislation  That is, the famous quote “We’re here because you were there” seems to be the underlying mantra of some pushing for the act’s passage.  Yet if “being there” involved the U.S. military, it is unclear how a resolution to this issue, ethically or pragmatically, calls for immigrant youth to serve for the same U.S. military that devastated, disrupted, undermined, and still controls many of the policies and everyday life of the immigrants’ homelands.

Partially to blame for the uncritical support of the DREAM Act are different factions of the immigrant rights movement, as well as funders and some progressive media, that have pushed for an uncritical embrace of the immigrant rights movement among progressives.  It is difficult to raise critical views of the (diverse) immigrant rights movement, even when making it clear that one rejects the white supremacy and white nationalism of the right wing (as well as white-run progressive media and progressive institutions, such as some labor unions) without experiencing some backlash from other progressives, particularly people of color.  In turn, critical questions about how immigrant rights movements may support, rather than undermine U.S. hegemony or white supremacy, have been taken off the table at most progressive gatherings, large and small.  Subsequently, while some may express concern about the DREAM Act being part of a defense-authorization bill, there are probably fewer who will openly take stands against the bill given the threat of being labeled xenophobic by some progressives unwilling to reject the U.S. military state or interrogate the politics of immigration from an anti-racist and anti-capitalist perspective.  In the process, the military may end up getting easier access to immigrant youth who may have difficulty going to college.

As the passage from Dragon ladies shows, some take into account the complexity of identities and political realities as well as maintain oppositional stances against those apparatuses that are largely responsible for the limited choices far too many people have.  Many of us are looking for ways to mediate the very real vulnerabilities and lack of job security, as well as forms of social rejection that causes the stress, fear, and physical consequences experienced before and especially during this recession.  And given the recent upsurge in explicit gestures of white supremacy and white nationalism as demonstrated by the growing strength of the Tea Party, it may be the most expedient to play up on the shared support of the U.S. military among a broad spectrum of people in order to secure, at least on paper, some basic rights to which straight and/or white people have gotten access.  But progressives who support the repeal of DADT and passage of the DREAM Act might instead consider other political possibilities explored by some of those who are the subjects of such policy debates; these folks, some of whom are desperately in need of protection, job security, and safety, encourage us to resist the urge for quick resolutions that ultimately serve to stabilize the military state and instead explore more humane options—for those targeted by DADT and the DREAM Act as well as the rest of the world.

*The image used with this article is created by Chris Vargas for Against equality: Queer challenges to the politics of inclusion.

**Thanks to Bruce A. Dixon’s commentary on the DREAM Act in Black Agenda Report (BAR), which gave a link to the 2009 DOD Report, to which a reference was inserted in this article after Dixon’s appeared in the September 22, 2010 edition of BAR.

  1. September 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm | #1

    Very interesting and through provoking post. I think I kept coming back to the question, “if not this (DADT & Dream) then what?” In part, my question betrays itself because it says, “the interests of the most vulnerable can only be spoken to via radical compromise.” For that reason, you had me thinking of the many legislations that we, on the Left, advocate for that re-inscribe or re-articulate inequalities while we enjoy increased “access.” I do have to disagree that it’s not pragmatic, in fact I think it’s a perfect illustration of Derrick Bell’s interest convergence theory. Given I can think of numerous folks who had to remain closeted and under the fear of outing to maintain their military eligibility (re: job/livelihood) and many folks who don’t have access to higher ed despite being over qualified, the increased access/protection will serve a purpose. But this again points to the differences between pragmatic and justice. I don’t have a solution or conclusion but definitely appreciate you highlighting the issue of endowing oppression further in a quest for rights. A number of folks have responded on twitter, hope they leave comments on here (see told you you needed to be on twitter).

  2. Maria in Cali
    September 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm | #2

    you raise critical issues here! Thank you! As Dumi mentions they’re quite provocative. Indeed the socio-cultural, political, context of DADT and DREAM are far too complex to render these two policies the beacons of (even in a ballpark somewhere nearby) ultimate liberation. As you accurately point out, we’ve got plenty more that we need to be doing. With DREAM, I can’t not support it. Too many brilliant young brothas n sisters are in colleges across the country and have far too limited options sans DREAM’s passage. Something must be done. And I see no other pathway without the current one…and yes I agree it’s a jacked up, we-are-not-doing-enough-approach but we need some inroads asap. An example of similar legislation
    might be the Voting Rights Act. Is it enough to allow folks to vote in a messed up system where serious dynamics of power impede some citizens’ full participation? Sure and lil by lil we can continue to dismantle….but again you had me thinking about both DADT and DREAM in a way I hadn’t yet- ‘preciate ya.

  3. Becky M
    September 20, 2010 at 4:02 am | #3

    First, let me thank you for this provocative read; I have heard bits and pieces of this argument elsewhere. And, while I agree with some points, I see problems with others.

    I am an LGBTQ ally, and have heard both arguments for and against repeal of DADT from the progressive side of the aisle. I personally support the repeal of DADT and not because I have an uncritical lens in regards to the Industrial Military Complex or am uniformed about the intersections of capitalism and oppression. However, I do think that we have to be careful about the various implications of our arguments. For example, why not exclude women from the military altogether? This is certainly an argument that has been made by anti-feminists because of women’s supposed weak mental and physical constitution and natural nurturing tendencies. That argument could also be made by those who, as you state, are concerned about, “increase[ing] the size and power of the U.S. military and the Department of Defense…” Excluding women would certainly decrease the size of the military. However, coming from a feminist perspective, I would find this quite problematic. I too think the military industrial complex is imperialist, and I do not support the amount of capital that we pour into the military. However, I also know that we will always have a military and LGB persons have always served and will continue to serve in the military. The real question in regards to DADT is will they be able to do so openly and, most importantly, will we finally provide real safeguards for those most vulnerable in the military system who choose to serve? By this, I mean acknowledging the hyper-masculinity of the military and the institutionalization of rape and sexual assault and doing something about it. BTW, people have also used this argument (of sexual violence) to keep women and LGBT out of the military (“for their own good”) rather than making serious efforts to change the institution itself. And we all know the problematics of the “for their own good” arguments…punishing the oppressed and reaffirming the privilege of the oppressor.

    Moreover, I think that the Military Industrial Complex does not greatly benefit from allowing LGB to serve openly; it’s still not clear how allowing them to serve openly directly leads to an expansion of the MIC. Some may find the military a more welcoming environment and make the choice to join when they might not have otherwise, but adding a few new LGB “bodies” is not really going to have an effect on the MIC (let’s remember that LGB already serve). I would argue that the much more important issue with the MIC is national ideologies (e.g., Bush doctrine) that support particular military policies, legislation, spending, etc. We also need a way to understand military participation of those like LGB and people of color (and intersecting identities) who have historically (and continue to be) part of the military institution.

    It seems to me that an important part of a feminist perspective is generally about affirming choices more broadly and inclusively. In other words, choices are never made entirely free from constraint. Sometimes they are presented as such, but I believe that is a fallacy of the neo-liberal perspective. However, if we were to understand various choices on a spectrum, I would like to see the idea of choice whether it be, for example, reproductive or to serve in the military as a woman or as openly LGBT, lean more towards the free will end (yes, I know problematic as well) than the default (no other options) end of the spectrum. Iris Lopez (2008), in her book about the sterilization and Puerto Rican women, elucidates this point quite well in arguing that, “Puerto Rican women’s reproductive freedom is a complex matter that can not be described as either completely repressive or entirely free” (xii). Rather than place the practice of sterilization within the binary model of victim/agent, she neither ignores women’s agency or subjectivity nor does she assume that they act with complete freedom and without constraint. They cannot be described as victims of abuse or coercion, and yet, as López posits, one cannot entirely argue that they were making “choices” in the strict sense of the term. Most of the women that she interviewed actively sought out sterilization, and yet conditions of poverty, lack of access to quality health care, health education, racism, and sexism served to help shape their decision-making.

    I know I got a bit tangential here, but, using Lopez’ work, I am meaning to point out that while the argument against DADT that you posit gets at some of the more global issues in terms of military capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and heterosexism, we are left with no way to analyze the experiences of people of color and LGB who participate in the military. Whether it is because of limited options due to institutionalized racism and classism–particular issues for people of color–or because they fall closer to the free-will/choice end of the spectrum, we need to be able to theorize and understand these experiences. If not, we end up with a sort of anemic and rather condescending “false consciousness” explanation as to why they would participate in the military. Do we assume that when they realize the colonialist, imperialist, racist, heteronormative, heterosexist nature of the military and become truly radical in perspective, they will not participate? I think we need a more nuanced approach to understanding the agency of individuals while, at the same time, not losing sight of the problem of the US military state. For example, how might we understand the experience of Mexican-Americans who may choose to participate in the military as a form of cultural affirmation, as a form of national pride, as a form of inclusive citizenship in the “imagined community,” and/or as a form of resistance to an outsider status? At the same time, I am aware of the ways in which people of color in the US have been overrepresented among the dead and wounded in war and the way in which lack of options have led them to the military. I also know that Mexican-Americans, for example, have a history of military participation and this will continue. There is a cultural and traditional component to this that can’t be over-looked; military stories get handed down and re-told through the generations. For some, military participation is a part of family history and cultural tradition. My concern is with is those who enter the military because of lack of other choices due to structural inequalities. In this context, is it problematic that the Dream Act has the option of military participation? Yes, because a form of coercion is present for those who have no other options. However, can we ignore the complex questions surrounding peoples’ agency and subjectivity in the choices that they make? I think we risk this if we argue that DADT and the Dream Act should not be supported because military participation is ultimately oppressive. And, I think this is particularly problematic in arguing against the repeal of DADT because we still need to understand that there are LGB who wish to participate openly in the military. We need to recognize people’s agency, while at the same time, acknowledging the problematics of the US military state.

    Also, while I think it is of paramount importance to point out the various stake-holders in making arguments for and against DADT and the Dream Act, we need to take that further. Yes, we need to analyze who is supporting what and why. And, as you point out, whose voices are absent and why. But, as we all know, social justice movements (broadly defined) are messy with participants whose motives and actions appear contradictory and certainly questionable. Take the Suffrage and Birth Control movements, for example. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked with a known racist who helped fund their suffrage activities in the South. Cady even infamously referred to the “Sambos” in one of her published letters, and Anthony made racist and anti-immigrant remarks as well. Both women, however, also worked closely with Frederick Douglass, and it appears they were all on friendly terms. In regards to the early Birth Control movement, Margaret Sanger worked with the Eugenicist Movement, which was largely institutionalized at that point in US history. Because of this, she is currently being utilized by the Anti-Choice movement as a racist who wanted to kill black babies, and that’s why women today shouldn’t have the choice to abort. Silly, really, but that’s what happens when we focus solely on the actors without any sort of context. Obviously, both of these movements were (and are) extremely important (understatement of the year). My point, coming back to the issue at hand, is that even though some in the military are supporting the Dream Act, that, in and of itself, does not necessarily taint the Dream Act as unsupportable (for me at least). This is because I cannot ignore the grassroots students who are supporting the Dream Act and are telling their stories to fight for full participation as citizens in a society that is their home http://www.anunfinisheddream.com/ . Their struggles are primarily centered around education (but they are also aware of the military component of the Act). That they have allies in the military is not completely unproblematic, but it would be paternalistic of me to assume that they do not understand their own circumstances and struggles.

  4. Joal
    September 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm | #4

    Your proposal doesn’t seem to be tethered to reality. What would a United States without a military look like? What would the world without a US military look like? Will restricting the ability to serve in the armed forces change military policies for better or for worse? Were we doing less empire building before minorities were allowed to serve on equal terms?

    Until you have answers to those questions that support the goals you’re setting (eliminating “US militarism”?), you’re only having an academic discussion. It may be an interesting discussion, but if it’s not helpful in setting policy then it’s not worth the attention of most Americans decision-makers, voters or the media.

  5. Jack
    September 22, 2010 at 4:56 am | #5

    Continuing to bar open homosexuals from the military would arguably preempt an uptick in militaristic authority and save gays from participation in the (one-dimensionally portrayed) American Military project. The argument is a provocative one, but it is provocative mostly because it is flawed.

    First, it condescends to homosexuals by refusing to acknowledge, were they able to serve, their choice in the matter. Of course, radicals are not, like liberals, hung up on choice, but they (radicals) should at least respond, and here, from Nopper I see nothing in way of a response. Giving gays the right to serve would respect the gay anti-military radicals by allowing for an adversarial position. Nopper it seems, would rather anti-military homosexuals simply win the argument by summary judgment.

    Second, the article asserts without evidence that allowing gays to choose to be in the military would increase the number of people in the military. 12, 500 more people may be participating in the imperialist, supremacist conquest of the world were DADT to end, but an unknown number of soldiers would cease to participate. I have no moral stake in this point. I only wish to point out that Nopper takes for granted a gain in numbers .

    Third, in repudiating cable news and progressive media, Napper duplicates one of their serial mistakes—namely, overgeneralization. Here we have no definition of what constitutes the progressive media, professional pundits, and so on–not even a single illustration. (unless you count the hyperlink). One should always be skeptical of those arguments that take broad, semi-abstract terms like “media” as their opposition. Bill O’ Reilly and Sarah Palin do it regularly, and it’s no less irresponsible here.

    Fourth, the military is unreasonably and without warrant portrayed as a wholly negative instrument. I will grant to Napper for the sake of argument that the U.S. military is complicit in and often a cause of supremacy, sexism, homophobia, racism, and whatever else she wants. But banning gays from the military would mean banning them from serving New Orleans as members of the National Guard in the unfortunate event of another flood. Banning gays has and would prevent gay engineers from serving public safety through the US Army Corps of Engineers. If DADT had existed during WWII, it would have prevented open servicemen from liberating extermination camps that murdered Jews, Gypsies, and, well, homosexuals. If Napper wants to argue that all of these benevolent functions should be divorced from the military completely, that’s fine. But as it stands, were she to have her way, she would preclude all positive military endeavors that gay servicemen and women could potentially join in order to bring a greater good to the body politic.

  6. Brandon
    September 24, 2010 at 5:37 am | #6

    For one, the DREAM Act doesn’t require military service – it’s just an option. Those who cannot afford college, or cannot enroll for whatever reason, aren’t locked out of a path to citizenship. Then again, based on the logic of this post, I wonder if the author support citizenship – after all, they would be citizens of an imperialist military state. I don’t mean that as a cheap shot or to be dismissive, but rather to ask where where this logic takes us: this post seems to advocate a politics of purity that is not only unrealistic – especially for the vulnerable populations who would benefit from these acts – but seems politically paralyzing. If we can’t acknowledge DADT and the DREAM Act as necessary if flawed pieces of legislation, then what should we do instead? I may just be a pragmatist, but I believe politics is the art of the possible; this is what is possible now. While it’s not even half a cake, I’ll take a crumb rather than none at all.

  7. Chris
    September 25, 2010 at 1:14 am | #7

    I completely agree with your post and am frustrated at the lack of options for helping expand immigrant rights (and the huge focus of queer rights on DADT). I think those of us who have been personally touched by or are hyper-aware of the damage the US military has done to countries and people around the world cannot help but have moral problems in supporting DADT and the DREAM Act, especially since the DREAM Act was completely co-opted from the hard-working grassroots supporters who got it going. I feel ya.

  8. November 10, 2010 at 2:46 am | #8

    High brow elitist intellectual theories are good for those with great liberal arts college education and the time to ponder them. This argument, though, would have some argue against workplace protections because it supports private business, capitalism and status quo economics. In the same light our moderate allies would be allowed to argue that they can’t support grants to take care of HIV/AIDS patients because it adds to deficits. Our far liberal allies would be allowed to argue that we should not push for adoption and foster care rights because it contributes to a system that strips children of rights until they are 18 or older. Hell, this argument would suggest that allowing people to change gender ties them to the cross of gender binarism. Our progressive allies in the early 20th century would have argued against allowing women to vote because they truly only wanted the well educated and enlightened to vote and opening up the vote would open it to some unenlightened women for sure.

    I flatly reject this argument. It would have at least held weight if it had opposed being tied to the Defense Authorization Bill, but it didn’t even mention it. What about compromise…what about it? I support single payer universal healthcare…but I pushed for the health care bill. I gave lots of cold hard cash from school loans that were supposed to pay for education. I supported candidates. I put off a semester of grad school to work for the Obama campaign. It wasn’t perfect…..but now my poz friends can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.

  1. June 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm | #1

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