Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” won’t hurt military

Letter to the Editor

I am a believer in everyone’s right to have their own opinions, but I find it offensive when people who have zero military background ramble on about things they know nothing about. I know my opinion doesn’t represent every veteran’s opinion, but it does represent the majority.

I am veteran, and I support repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” No, I’m not gay. The young lady who wrote an opposing opinion Thursday tried to frame it as an issue of “left-wingers” vs. “conservatives” and denied that it was a matter homophobia or religion. “There are those who feel uncomfortable around, dislike, and even fear homosexuality,” she wrote.

So, if that is not homophobia, then what is? Is it practical to fire at least 58 Arab linguists and thousands of service members right now? Also, blindly stating that our military is overwhelmingly conservative is untrue. In 2007, 46 percent of service members identified themselves as Republicans, while a more scientific study from May 2009 showed 43 percent doesn’t even identify with a party or ideology at all.

The military is often where change happens first in our society. When President Harry Truman desegregated the military in 1948, the same pathetic arguments from ignorant hate-filled people trying to hide behind a thin veil of concern for our troops were used. But in World War II, white bomber pilots already showed that was untrue by requesting Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen to escort them. They were the only pilots our white crews trusted to get them home safely.

That is all it comes down to: trust. We forge the bonds of trust when we train and fight side-by-side. We earn each other’s respect. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. I served with people I knew were gay. Some were surprisingly open about it, but I never once saw any problems.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has steadily been falling out of touch and out of good graces with his fellow veterans since 2003 for a number of reasons. In 2006, he said he would listen when military leaders came to him requesting repeal of DADT. Now, he is simply turning his back even more on of his brothers and sisters for the sake of politics. Luckily, Gen. Colin Powell and a large number of military leaders, past and present, are beginning to speak out against DADT.

What is everyone afraid of? Is the Army going to start prancing instead of marching? Are soldiers going to start decorating their uniforms with sequins? It will take some adjusting, but that is what we do: adapt and overcome in order to execute the mission. The rules and regulations concerning the conduct and appearance of our troops will not change. The British and Dutch militaries dropped their anti-gay policies years ago.

If you join the military and can’t execute your mission because of who is standing next to you, then the problem isn’t him. It is you.

Ashkan Bayatpour is a senior majoring in political science and international studies.