With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. armed forces ceased at least a major part of their official discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Since the Congressional deal last Fall — one of Obama’s promises he actually followed through on — the gay and lesbian community has been counting down the months, days and hours until the repeal took effect. MSNBC resounded with cries of “Nunc dimittis!” So I’ll add my own congratulations for the gay service members — I guess.
At first glance, this story would seem like a big win for anyone who hates seeing large, powerful institutions walk all over people’s human dignity and treat them like dirt. But at second glance, what do you think the state’s armed forces are all about, anyway?
Thanks to this recent blessed occasion, we’ll have the pleasure of knowing the torture at Gitmo — the closing of which is a promise Obama didn’t follow through on — is being conducted by a military that’s integrated not only by race but by sexual orientation. And the “extraordinary renditions,” the “harsh interrogation techniques” at Baghram AFB, and God knows what at the network of black sites around the world — stuff Obama never even promised to stop — will all be carried out by gays and straights alike. O happy day!
The primary mission of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines is to keep the world safe for transnational corporations. And God have mercy on any brown people anywhere in the world who get in the way of that mission. So now gays and lesbians have an equal right to join in the fun of grinding Uncle Sam’s boot in the world’s face. Woo-hoo!
That’s (one of) the problem(s) with mainstream liberalism: it’s replaced class with identity. Rather than questioning the structure of institutional power in America, and the exploitation it enables — in other words a genuinely left-wing project — conventional liberalism worries that there isn’t a representative selection of women, blacks, Hispanics and gays running the institutions.
Soledad O’Brien’s “Black in America” series on CNN a few years ago showed a clip of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — followed by O’Brien intoning that, as evidence of the dream’s fulfillment, “Some are CEOs; some are Secretary of State.” I have a dream of my own: to see the last CEO strangled with the entrails of the last secretary of state.
I submit that, instead of worrying about whether corporate boardrooms, legislatures and cabinets “look like America,” we worry about the domination those institutions exercise over our lives and livelihoods. As a white man, I can say I’ve known what it’s like to get pushed around, screwed over and squeezed dry by people who look like me — and believe it or not, it’s not as much fun as you might think.