Jesurgislac’s Journal

July 3, 2009

Renaissance Guy, 1948

This is Renaissance Guy, on July 1, 1948:

Before we ask any other issues about the military, we ought to first consider what the military’s purpose is to begin with. Before tackling issues of who should or should not be in the military, we ought to ask, “What is the military for?”

One of my great-uncles was prevented from joining the military because of a visual disability. Another great-uncle was kept out because of flat feet. Although they were disappointed, they understood that the military needs people in good physical condition and with no disabilities that would hinder their ability to perform their duties.

The military is not a group that you join in order to feel good about yourself. It is not a laboratory for sociological experiments. It is there to provide defense for our country, and a person should join it in order to serve the country.

I am ambivalent about the role of black people in the military. I have nothing against their serving; however, I can understand why white members of the military might object to sharing barracks with such people.

I think back to my college days. My dormitory had community showers. I was not too keen on showering with other people, and so I tried to time my showers when nobody else was in there. It often occurred that others were taking a shower at the same time that I was. The banter was always interesting. The general direction of it was that most of the guys hoped that nobody in there was black. They would not appreciate being around black men.

Of course, there were some people in the dorm who might have had “touch of the tar brush”, but nobody who was completely “out.” It was in the South, after all. It was also understood that it would be very awkward for a white man to discover that his room mate, especially his shower mate might be black. There’s a reason why the South segregated facilities s uch as dorms, showers, and bathrooms: white people feel uncomfortable at having to share them with black people.

I’m guessing that most white people in the military feel the same way. While they might not say it out loud in certain circles, they probably discuss it among themselves and not always in the most polite language, I’m betting.

I do not see any reason to put them in that uncomfortable position. The military does not exist to force people to give up their queasiness about undressing in front of people who are not the same race as them.

If the Truman administration does change current military policy, then I think they will have to find away to allow black people to serve in the military but to have separate sleeping quarters and separate bathing facilities. I do not know how else to give black people the freedom to express themselves as they see themselves but still safeguard the real concerns about segregation that the white men and women might have.

The military does not exist to make people equal. It does not exist to push the norms. It does not exist to make people feel good about themselves or to help them grapple with a lifetime of rejection or mistreatment. It exists to defend the country, and it is important to make it function the best possible way for all the great men and women who want to serve.

West Wing, “Let Bartlett be Bartlett”:

Major Tate: Sir, we’re not prejudiced toward homosexuals.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: You just don’t want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?
Major Tate: No sir, I don’t.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: ‘Cause they impose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion.
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That’s what I think, too. I also think the military wasn’t designed to be an instrument of social change.
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that’s what they were saying about me 50 years ago – blacks shouldn’t serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I’m an admiral in the U.S. Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… Beat that with a stick.

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June 18, 2008

Why do people get so panicky about falling birthrates?

There are two short answers to that: racism and sexism.

The sexism part is fairly obvious: the anti-choicers (who hate the idea of women getting to decide whether we have children, how many children, and when to have children) see in a “falling birthrate” that a significant proportion of women in a country who have become uppity. (Anti-choice women seem to have achieved the far-from-unusual hypocrisy of thinking that all other women have become too uppity to have all the children they should want to have. (As David P. Barash (via Pandagon)points out in the LA Times op-ed pages recently, humans are evolutionarily inclined to eat when we feel hungry, drink when we feel thirsty, and have sex when we feel horny. We are also inclined to take care of and feel protective of babies when they arrive, but this is a separate bit of programming from wanting to have sex.)

The racism part ought to be just as obvious. The human species is in no danger of becoming extinct. None at all. There are over 6 billion humans worldwide: while it’s possible that a human-created catastrophe could end up wiping out our entire species, in plain fact, a species with as large a breeding pool as ours and as a wide range, is not in any danger of extinction short of a human-created catastrophe such as a nuclear war.

What several people have argued (most recently, I had this argument on Family Scholars Blog [before I was banned] but it’s a standard right-wing anti-choice Thing) is that there’s a problem with demographics – that countries where women are both educated and independent enough to be able to decide for ourselves how many children we want to have and when (and which are usually countries with a good enough health care system that all the children a woman decides to have will most likely survive to adulthood – this is not coincidental) are countries with an aging population, where “soon” there will be too many people too old to work and too few younger people to support them.

One may then – logically enough – point out that immigration generally solves that problem. It’s not as if there’s a real shortage of human beings: if there’s any country in the world which really is having trouble because there’s too many old people and not enough young people, it’s because that country has managed to block off most legal and all illegal immigration. (Needless to say, I do not believe there is such a country, nor ever will be.)

Then your average racist Christian right-winger (I mean that as a compound: Christians who are neither right-wing nor racist, and right-wingers who are not Christian nor racist, should not feel included, but FSB’s right-wingers are both Christian and racist and homophobic and sexist… you can see why they banned me….) frothing gently at the mouth, will say that they want their culture to stay their culture, and it won’t if there’s mass immigration from other countries that don’t share their culture. Right now, this fear is usually ostensibly anti-Muslim. A century ago it would have been anti-Eastern European/anti-Jewish/anti-Irish, and fifty years ago it would have been anti-West Indies. It is the same racist fear, and it is unfounded every time, as one can see by looking back at previous examples.

What this fear of falling birth rates ultimately comes down to is: we want our women to have more and more of our babies. What that means to your average right-wing Christian racist is: white women should have white babies, and a white woman shouldn’t under any circumstances be allowed to abort just because she can’t afford to take care of a child: she should hand the baby over to a white (and heterosexual, and married) couple. (Egg-donation and sperm donation, however, are bad, because anything that lets a woman feel in control of reproduction is fundamentally bad: women who are in control of reproduction have fewer children.)

I got banned from FSB because the moderators objected to having homophobia identified as bigotry, or indeed identified at all: the preference of your average right-wing Christian homophobe is for their feelings about LGBT people to be regarded as normal, not as homophobia – still less to have homophobes called out as bigots. But in a sense, their homophobia is a side-effect: the real motivation behind all this twisted nonsense is a knotted-up combination of racism and sexism. Hard to pick out which comes first, which is more important to them: a riddle as unsolvable as the chicken and the egg.

But it all ties together: these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Lovely. Let’s cut it down, burn it up, and party on the ashes.

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This post was first published on my greatestjournal, on 13th May 2006.

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