"There are many foolish reasons to exclude homosexuals from serving in the armed services," writes Mackubin Thomas Owens
in today's Wall Street Journal
, but ". . . this does not mean that we should ignore the good ones." The trouble with too much of the debate over the proposed revoking of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, is that it does precisely that. Those in favor of permitting the service of openly gay individuals in the military are guilty of conflating opposition to the change with simple-minded anti-gay prejudice and they have never confronted (let alone answered) the serious arguments against them. As Owens explains, the central and most imperative function of a military in a liberal society is to win the nation's wars. All questions having to do the organization and regulation of that military must, of necessity, be subordinate to that over-arching aim. There is no other (good) reason for us to maintain a military if it is not for this purpose.
Serious people--who otherwise have demonstrated no particular animosity to homosexuals and who have unquestionable experience in understanding what it takes to build a military capable of performing this function-- have argued, persuasively, that the presence of open homosexuals in the military is a problem for unit cohesion and, therefore, is a distraction from that all important function. Their objections deserve a fair and open hearing, free from cheap cries of "homophobia" and simple-minded comparisons with racial bigotry from the peanut gallery. The problem for cohesion, in this instance, has nothing to do with personal dislike on the part of soldiers or their commanders; it has to do with inherent and unchanging understandings of the nature of warfare and friendship. We cannot insist that these things change just because we would like them to comport with some more "progressive" understanding of "fairness." Well, I suppose we can petulantly "insist" upon it . . . but we do so at our peril; for nature is an even more stubborn thing than a liberal interest group.