The American Family Association (AFA) kindly sent out an action alert yesterday to its concerned constituency warning about the coming Armageddon for our troops if the military policy banning gay people from openly serving in the military is repealed. It began thusly (emphasis mine):
Gays showering with straights? Absolutely.
If President Obama, congressional Democrats, and homosexual activists get their wish, your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals who may very well view them with sexual interest.
Talk about creating a hostile work environment for people who practice normative sexuality!
Wait, stop the presses. Did I just read that President Obama is trying to force our troops to have gay sex in the shower?!
Of course, instead of imagining gay military porn as the AFA might want me to, I’m imagining the angry people who subscribe to this trash getting all riled up about those dirty homos and their sexy shower time after opening their inbox:
“No thank you, sir! I would much rather have my son or daughter continue to be forced to share military showers and barracks with repressed homosexuals! That’s the only kind of naked homosexual I want to see.
…Er, not that I want to see naked homosexuals, of course. I mean, gross.”
Who thinks this stuff up? Hopefully this will be a lesson to AFA President Tim Wildmon: Don’t tell your supporters to imagine gay people, sculpted by military training, taking group showers. It makes them very uncomfortable, OK?
Back in the good ol’ days, the American Family Association would just e-mail me about how I shouldn’t eat at McDonald’s because they support the gay agenda, or how Campbell Soup is bad for my morality. At most, I lost a couple pounds and saved myself the hassle of having to put together that IKEA desk because it was advertised as being used by a couple of lesbians. And everyone knows lesbians have cooties that are easily harbored in particle board.
But now that AFA founder Donald Wildmon passed the torch to his son Tim, things are getting downright smutty. I mean, it’s not like Donald ever put it in my head that the lesbians in question were performing sexual acts on that IKEA desk! Little Timmy has taken it too far.
To take on Tim’s “facts” about the military policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) that are included in this e-mail would be too easy, so I’ll just do one. The e-mail (which you can read online here if you’re not lucky enough to be a subscriber to the always useful AFA ”action alerts”) brings up this point first:
As former General Colin Powell observed in 1993 (before bowing to pressures of political correctness), “…it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline to try to integrate gays and lesbians in the current military structure.”
Yes, the note quotes Powell addressing the “current military structure” almost 17 years ago as its main argument. Yet Powell released a statement just last week saying that he’s in full support of the effort to reexamine, and likely repeal, DADT. So I guess 1993 isn’t what Powell would use to determine what’s best for the actual “current military structure” in 2010.
If you want to hear more arguments from the AFA, check out their dedicated page for combating any change to DADT in the military. There you’ll find links to the anti-equal opportunity group the Center for Military Readiness’ page on DADT called “Problems With Gays in the Military” (though the URL is cleverly shortened to /problemgays, perhaps so they can later try and blame that whole war on terror thing on homosexuality, just like Hurricane Katrina).
But the appearance of factiness is just a vehicle to irritate the latent sexual confusion and reinforce the repression already in the psyches of the devotees of the religious right.
This fixation on the showering habits of buff soldiers may be an indication of certain discomforts on the part of conflicted conservatives, but that’s not even the worst of it. The arguments against allowing gays to serve openly in the military should also be offensive to anyone who serves the country with dignity, regardless of sexual orientation. I don’t want to believe that the proud men and women of the American military (yes, even the “straights” as Tim calls them) are so bigoted and blind that they can’t function in the modern world without reacting violently to people who don’t look or act like they do.
That’s what we have military contractors for!
In all seriousness, if our troops can’t get through the day without assaulting someone because they’re different, they probably shouldn’t have access to training that turns them into killing machines. But underneath that distrust of our soldiers which lies underneath a comical discomfort with one’s own sexuality, is the most unfair reason of them all: that Gay people are sex maniacs who can’t take a simple shower without violating their fellow soldiers.
John Cloud at Time Magazine remembered some of the bigotry that got us this dysfunctional military policy in the first place (emphasis mine):
But the specter of “forced intimacy” recalled the worst kind of anti-gay bigotry: the notion that gays can’t control themselves or respect sexual privacy. [Former Sen. Sam] Nunn himself led reporters and colleagues on an infamous “field hearing” into the sleeping quarters and showers of ships and submarines in May 1993. It was demeaning and schoolboyishly prurient, but as icky demagoguery, the stunt worked brilliantly…
A Zogby poll conducted for the Palm Center in 2006… which surveyed 545 military personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, found that only 37% of the respondents opposed openly gay military service. More important, of the 125 survey respondents who knew for sure that at least one person in their unit was gay or lesbian, 64% said it had “no impact” on the unit’s morale. Three-quarters of the total sample said they were “comfortable” in the presence of gays and lesbians. One assumes that, despite Senator Nunn’s fears, they had not been groped in the shower.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that uptight conservatives such as AFA members would want DADT to continue on as before. After all, they’re clearly more comfortable in a world filled with people who look just like they do. So a law that makes sure that everyone is just as sexually repressed as they are must be a mighty comforting thought.
At least it appears to be more comforting to them than the thought of an orgy in a military shower.
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