The military's homophobic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is on its deathbed while a bipartisan clique of racist, xenophobic, white supremacist bigots in the U.S. Senate have killed the DREAM Act which would provide a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants living in the U.S. How should revolutionaries understand these contradictions? Below are some of my initial thoughts.
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All that is left for the repeal of the U.S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy is president Obama's signature. Of course I consider this a welcomed reform. While I don't want to see any more LGBTIQ individuals join the military, I do support whatever might make the lives of LGBTIQ individuals in the military just a little more bearable – especially for those who were forced into the military through the "economic draft" and those who are unable to leave that wretched institution. As a socialist I support this minor reform – and it must be said that for all the time, money, and energy that went into this, it is an utterly minor (and contradictory) change.
But the contradictions and problems that come with this change must be pointed out – and there are many of them.
Many recent studies have shown that many extremely homophobic individuals – especially hyper-masculine men – are often closeted queers. I remember these type of folks in high school. Football jocks who liked to slap other dudes butts while spewing out homophobic obscenities out the other side of their mouth. Popular boys who liked to fondle other guys in secret because they knew less assertive boys would be too scared to tell. I remember all of that. And I understand that these folks are just part of a abysmal system. They weren't born that way. Many of them want to cry – but because of the dominant hegemony can't show such emotions (let alone express whatever queer desires they may have been repressing), so they expressed their repressed selves through violence and bullying instead. And I remember that many of these same individuals went on to join the military – not because they were forced to, but because they chose to (though of course none of us have full "choice" under capitalism). I'm completely unconvinced that the repeal of DADT will make many of these types of men "come out". Similarly I don't believe DADT's reform will do much to stop violence against women or lesbians in the military. Unless more systemic changes happen in the military that challenges this type of hyper-masculine, homophobic-transphobic, patriarchal culture, queers probably were better off outing themselves and being kicked out. They can't do that now. Contradiction one.
When same-sex marriage passes, when we have universal healthcare for all (including immigrants and foreign visitors), when foreclosures are frozen, etc., I'll feel like I actually have something to celebrate. But I refuse to celebrate with other triumphant (mostly white and coordinator class gays) when my immigrant friends of color just had the door to dignity and citizenship slammed shut in their face. During the SAME DAY that the U.S. Senate voted to approve the repeal of DADT, the DREAM Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien[SIC] Minors Act) was shot down by those same senators – including a bunch of Senate Democrats. I find this absolutely disgusting. This is another outrageous contradiction.
This comes in the context of the increased crackdown on our immigrant sisters and brothers by the Obama-led imperial government, including more frequent and violent I.C.E raids and the militarisation of the Southern U.S. border (but of course not as much on the Canadian – read WHITE – border). While it is true that immigrants who join the U.S. military (vs. going to college) will face many of the same type of problems of as LGBTIQ individuals who join the military, the DREAM Act also would allow for a path to citizenship for those who go to college instead. It isn't perfect, but it was a certainly reform that should have been passed today. Instead it was blocked by a bipartisan clique of xenophobes and racist bigots. This is the same group of bigots who were quite fine voting for a $725 BILLION DOLLAR Military Spending Bill – by far the largest in HUMAN HISTORY. That happened today too. Yet another obscene contradiction.
For me this issue, though riddled with contradictions, seems pretty cut and dry.
1. While we support the struggle for full democracy, we must understand that full democracy can only ever be incomplete under capitalism (and incomplete democracy has many contradictions). Moreover, righteous queers and immigrants shouldn't fight in imperial armies. We should fight to provide everyone with alternatives to military service and expand our counter-military-recruitment efforts across the board. Killing Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Haitians, Palestinians, and other people of the Global South is NOT A CAREER!
2. Any day our immigrant brothers and sisters are denied dignity is not a day to celebrate. Today racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy were allowed to prevail in the Senate and that's not something to celebrate. It must be remembered that many people who come to the United States don't really have a choice in the matter. Many of these people have been here virtually their whole lives. The imperial government just told those people that they are still "illegal" and could be deported in the eyes of the law. We must respond with an equally deafening roar that, no, NO ONE IS ILLEGAL! AMNESTY FOR ALL!
Like I said at the start, these are just some initial thoughts. Feel free to comment below agreeing, disagreeing, asking questions, and so on. I'll be writing more thorough posts on these topics in the coming weeks.