Friday, February 24, 2006

The Not So Straight Green Line

"Achilles and Patroclus on the Left. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery WW2 leader of British forces on the Right"

One of the many reasons I blog is that mainstream media frequently doesn’t connect the dots between stories.  I came across this story about a court martial of 7 soldiers in the 82nd airborne for posing for money in what appears to be a gay porn website that plays on the fact that these are real soldiers 82nd Airborne story . It’s certainly very tempting to make jokes about this, but the 82nd is highly decorated and has a deserved longstanding reputation as an “elite” unit within the army.  Here are my dots.

  1. Abu Ghraib :  the MPs and other military working the prison were alleged to have forced male prisoners to feign sex with one another as a way of shaming them.  Naked photos were taken and one of the more famous photos is a human pyramid of naked prisoners forced to rub up against one another.

Official version:  these were a handful of guards who weren’t qualified and got out of control.  This despite similar allegations at other detention centers.

Semi-Official version:  These were the least-trained units in Iraq overwhelmed by the conditions.  There’s no pattern of any kind here and there are no orders from any higher ups.

What I think:  I believe that the civilian contractors in charge of interrogation either were directing or encouraging the practices as a way of “shaming” their Moslem prisoners.  I believe they were carrying through a policy from higher up.  I also feel strongly that it reveals more about the psyche of those who devised the “torture” than those being tortured or mistreated.

  1. Jeff Gannon Guckert:  mystery journalist becomes a White House press conference favorite who persistently asks softball questions about the War and the Administration.  It later turns out that the Talon journalist was also maintaining gay web sites like “Hot Military Stud” etc.  

Official version:  The White House doesn’t check credentials all that carefully and Gannon never had a regular credential just a temporary pass.  The press secretary simply called on Mr. Gannon frequently out of respect for Mr. Gannon’s work as a journalist.

Semi-Official version:  No comment from Mr. Gannon but he promised to tell his side of the story real soon.  He has since stopped attending White House press conferences.

What I think:  There are a lot of gay men and women who sometimes use Hard Right politics as a cover for their own conflicted feelings about their sexuality.  I’m not talking about Log Cabin Republicans or Andrew Sullivan: there are many gay people who just happen to be very conservative.  I mean characters like the former mayor of Spokane, Gannon, and a few other individuals who aren’t currently out.  I also can’t help but note the strange and very “straight” line between Mr. Gannon’s alleged web site and the 82nd Airborne case.

  1. Don’t Ask Don’t tell:  The pentagon opposed overtly letting gays into the military primarily because they felt it would affect morale and thus the effectiveness of troops in the field.  The 82nd airborne, as far as I know, remains a very effective unit in combat and non-combat operations.

Official version:  Openly gay members of the military would not be productive.  Gay marriage would lead to moral decline.  American soldiers are the best and most efficient soldiers in the world.

Semi-Official version:  There are some gay members of the military, but they keep quiet about it and that’s a good thing.  It’s not very common and everyone is very discreet about it.

What I think:  I don’t see that big a problem with being gay and serving in any branch of the military.  I do see some issues with posing for gay porn sites for money as a “military stud” while on active duty.  I’m no expert, but having gays actually in the 82nd airborne probably hasn’t threatened the effectiveness of the unit.  
     I believe that there are a lot more gay members of the military than anyone admits to regardless of official policy. I believe there are more than 7 gay members of the 82nd airborne.  I believe there is something of a subtle homo-erotic psychological connection between Military discipline and potency-sexuality for many individuals that no one in the Pentagon would ever dare acknowledge.  I believe these sites exist because there are enough people who feel that psychological connection for the sites to make money.

4. Service Academy Heterosexual Rape Scandals

Official version: There've been a few problems with sexual harrassment and beyond among our finest examples of patriotic leaders of our future military.

Unofficial version: They're strikingly similar in tone to similar scandals like Tailhook and somewhat uncovered stories about female military personnel in Iraq having to fear being raped or harrassed not by terrorists but by male soldiers. In one case, women died from dehydration because they were afraid to have to go to the bathroom at night.

What I think: Eros and Thanatos are directly linked and American culture is disturbingly dishonest about both.

I’d love to see what would happen if you asked certain members of the administration how they might connect these dots and what the resulting “straight” line signifies about traditional values.  


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