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Don’t Tell, Let Me Guess February 4, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in politics.
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Have you been following the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debate? Normally, I would question whether, given everything else that is going on with this country right now with healthcare, jobs, Afghanistan, the SuperBowl, the Oscars, etc., our legislators really need to take time out to talk about something like this. But given the fact that the Scott Brown election (and, really, how did this happen? What happened, Massachusetts?) has allowed Republicans to filibuster congress into a state of deadlock, they may as well talk about this. Hey, we’re not going to get a vote on healthcare or climate or TARP2.0 anytime soon anyway. Not even a cloture (my new favorite word) vote. Also, it’s never a bad time to re-examine prejudice and hatred. Any time we can legislate against prejudice and hate, we should take the opportunity to do so.

I know how I feel personally about DADT but I came to this feeling indirectly and so I don’t know if it is legitimate or not. I don’t have any close friends who are gay. This isn’t as much of a statement as you may otherwise think because: i) I don’t have many close friends to begin with, ii) I don’t ask whether my friends are gay I just guess and then keep it to myself, and iii) I personally don’t care whether someone is gay or not and not because I am explicitly tolerant but because there is a limit to the number of things I can care about and this didn’t make the cut. Point being, I don’t have personal experience with this. But I do have personal (or at least … ummm … cultural?) experience with something like this. I am Jewish. And being Jewish is similar to being gay in the senses that: i) it is a minority position and one that has historically been discriminated against, ii) it is not immediately evident like being black or being a woman is, and iii) it just is. And although anti-Semitism is not what it used to be, at least in “the west”, I have faced several situations in which I was advised to actively hide this fact. And believe me, I walked away from these situations as fast as I could. Because nothing is more insulting than being told that something about you which you did not consciously choose and cannot readily change is distasteful or inappropriate or lacking. And so whereas I am not someone who shares voluntarily, I don’t tweet my deep dark secrets to the world, and I personally don’t require other people to explicitly acknowledge, accept, validate, and celebrate every aspect of my being, I would want no part of DADT. DADT can go to hell. And people who don’t feel comfortable with openly gay people, or openly Jewish people, or openly vegetarian people, or openly “furry” people can go with it.

Speaking of intolerance, hatred, and social progress … at some point prior to the 2008 election, actually several years before, I got into a discussion with someone about the order in which we would see American presidents who were: i) a woman, ii) black, iii) Jewish, iv) gay, v) physically disabled, vi) mentally disabled, vii) a dwarf. Well, two of those have already been answered. We saw mentally disabled first (43) and black second (44) and we’re still waiting on the others. I remember at the time that my predicted order was i) woman, ii) black, iii) Jewish and iv) gay. My rationale for picking a woman first is that it was the safest route politically. Women’s liberation was the oldest of the four movements (actually, my predicted order matches the order of the liberation movements), there are already women in very prominent national political positions (notably Hilary), and that other G8 countries have had women as recent heads of state (Thatcher, Merkel) and women had been on national tickets albeit only as VPs (Ferraro, Palin although this was before Sarah P rose to … “prominence”). I struggled between Jewish and black and ended up predicting black because: i) I figured a country with a conservative Christian demographic as large as the one in the US would never elect a Jewish president, and ii) the third season of “24” was getting people used to the idea of a black president. I went with gay last because open gays have made relatively little inroads in national politics. There are many women, blacks, and Jews in congress and at least one of each on the Supreme Court. Are there any openly gay representatives or senators? And remember, Mark Foley and Larry Craig are no longer in congress! Anyways, I was obviously wrong and we have a black president before we had a woman president. But maybe it’s time to revisit the rest of these predictions as well. Woman/Jew/gay? Jew/woman/gay? Maybe our next president will be a gay Jewish woman! Like Rachel Maddow if she were Jewish. I would certainly vote for a Rachel Maddow/Drew Brees ticket.

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