On Monday morning, a strange little man at the WaPo asserted that the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps “has to go.” It appears that in the eyes of Richard “Dick” Cohen, the Commandant is guilty of that most heinous of crimes– uttering any sort of opposition to the repeal of DADT. The strangeness begins thusly–
“I am a fan of the old World War II movies, the ones where the platoon was composed of typical Americans, Hollywood-style. There was a guy named Farmer and one called Preacher… Now, of course, we would have to add a gay soldier. I fear for him. He’ll need someone to watch his back.”
Only if “he” puts his lifestyle above his duty and fails to keep faith with those other typical Americans. And that is the heart of substantive opposition to the repeal of DADT. What Dick does here is to assume the posture that he thinks his adversaries in this argument do, namely inchoate lunk-headed intransigence. I detect also a note of good-war-ism; you know, those old WWII movies were great because WWII was the last good war, not what we have today with these awful provincial people and their tacky state university degrees who beat up on various Third Worlders and refuse to love gays. You know, Dick, we like those old movies too, but those of us who have served know that Hollywood can’t match reality, and that the real soldiers and Marines in the platoons aren’t simply pets or mascots for the chattering classes. It continues–
“But we know also that this can be managed – contained, limited. It takes education. It takes training. It takes leadership. This is what concerns me about Amos. His views are on the record. He sees gays as somewhat out of control, possibly holding hands in combat, sneaking into one another’s bunks at night, being distracted just as the enemy is coming over the hill. Not only is this silly and based on an ignorant misconception of who most gays are, but it can be dealt with.”
First of all, that’s GENERAL Amos to you, bitch. Now, note the hectoring breathy fatuousness– It takes *education* … it takes *training* … it takes LEADERSHIP. When he writes “education and training” what he really means is “re-education and indoctrination.” Those who lived through the purge-trial aftermath of Tailhook will know what I mean. Leadership, frankly, is what General Amos is exercising, although Dick can’t recognize it. The Commandant is stating his considered professional opinion that repeal of this law will have a detrimental effect on the combat readiness of his service, and furthermore that doing so during active overseas operations is a particularly ill-conceived course of action. Remember how long this man has been in uniform, and the positions he has held. He understands his Corps, and what makes it tick, and he has been entrusted with shepherding it through the next four years of war.
Dick fittingly ends his hissy fit on an incoherent note–
“The Marines of today know that virtually the entire Republican Party stood up for bigotry. The Corps knows that some important senators – John McCain and Jon Kyl, to name two – furiously fought to retain the status quo, always in the sainted cause of unit cohesion. (Kyl said repeal could “cost lives.”) Marines know, too, that in surveys, those on the front lines are least supportive of having gays among them and they are also aware that their brass fought to keep “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The issue for me, as for Gen. Amos, is unit cohesion. That’s why he has to go.”
I don’t see how he (Dick) is advocating for increased unit cohesion. And does he he think it’s a good thing or not? If he paused to think for a moment, he might realize that unit cohesion *is* a sainted cause, and a thing well worth preserving. Unit cohesion keeps the force together when things aren’t going well. Unit cohesion is born of hundreds of Americans dedicated to a single cause, welded together into a fighting instrument by hard realists who do sometimes hold contrary opinions. But what has no place in the realm of unit cohesion, or of any aspect of combat readiness, is compulsory acceptance of behaviors that most find distracting at best and deviant at worst. The gay soldier or Marine who subordinates his behavior for the greater good of his unit gets treated like a soldier or Marine, like one of the family.
But Dick wouldn’t get that, would he?