Uninspired Lunacy

You would think that at a time when the United States needed all the resources at it’s disposal it might have thought twice about it’s ludicrous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which excludes openly gay servicemen and women from the Armed Services. The Washington Post covers the mindboggling stupidity around the firing of gay, Arabic-speaking uniformed linguistics experts for being……well…gay.

Has it not dawned on the Joint Chiefs, on the Congress, on the Administration, that the US is the last liberal democracy to maintain this nonsensical policy? Might there not be something worth examining in the largely problem-free transition that virtually all other western militaries have experienced in absorbing openly homosexual service personnel? Apparently not. But then, the US is also the only western nation that prohibits HIV positive people from obtaining visitor visas. Land of the Free or Land of the Sharia? You choose.

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James Russell
2022 years ago

Isn’t this story months old? Like, a year old or something?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I’m afraid it’s ongoing James. The Wapo piece I linked to is dated 2 December 03 and works as an update on the “continuing tragedy.”

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

You can just picture the situation at US Army Fort Stupid.

Colonel Cretin: “Where’s X? We’ve just intercepted a transmission from Osama bin Laden about a new terrorist strike on the United States, and we need it translated now!”

Major Moron: “We fired him for being gay”

Colonel Cretin: “Do we have any other Arabic speakers?”

Major Moron: “No, it’s really hard to find Arabic speakers who want to join the US Armed Forces”

Colnel Cretin: “Well, at least we fired him for a good reason. God hates fags!”

Niall
2022 years ago

Land of the Socially Incompetent at the very least.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Look in a mirror, Naill, before you denigrate an entire nation?

David
2022 years ago

They also have had a problem about language, which has been admitted in various sources. How can you run an intelligence agency if one of the reasons to be suspicious of recruits is that they came originally from another country?

If I remember rightly this was the explanation for the CIA having no Pashtun speakers at all when the Afghan attack was on, and only about two Farsee speakers even though the US has a large Farsee community (highly organised on the internet BTW).

And the Agency has also admitted it is unlikely to run field operations in places where they get gastric trouble. Logical – how much spying can you do crouched over a hole behind a fifty cent hotel? – but limiting.

Underneath this is the issue of trust – the administrators don’t trust gays, or foreign speakers, so… no hire um.. and they somehow don’t get a line of logic which goes: we run a fabulous country with terrific values, so you – a sexual or ethnic minority – too might want to die for it.

I am not sure how all this fits with the significant number of US soldiers who are actually Mexican illegals fighting to earn their citizenships. Like the Roman army, really…

I too really resist stereotyping the US – its so complex – but then they come out with some really dumb policies. So on some level, they can be judged.

mo
mo
2022 years ago

“Look in a mirror, Naill, before you denigrate an entire nation?”

I’ve looked in Niall’s mirror, and it seems like he does on a regular basis as well. Pagans and second-time-around romantics got it going on.

So, Yeah, what he said.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

Surely denying HIV + tourists is a little different than discriminating on the basis of sexuality. There are real logistical and safety-oriented reasons why you would want to keep a HIV positive person out of the country.

Should the US accept anyone with Ebola as well? Obviousy HIV is less contagious, but the principle is the same. I find it hard to take this as evidence of anti-gay sentiments.

The Military thing is a different story, though. I suspect there’s more to just “god hates fags” to it – Commanders don’t want their soldiers shagging each other while they are supposed to be killing people and the like – it’s also one of the arguments against female combatants.

I can agree with the above reason, but that’s no excuse for keeping gays out of administrative and technical positions.

The US and Australian army have a history for keeping people out for ridiculous reasons, homosexuality is just one of them.

A person I know fairly well was rejected by the RAAF this year on medical grounds. Allergies causing a mild rash on the instep would apparently make him unable to perform work as an Air Traffic Controller. You work it out.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Surely denying HIV + tourists is a little different than discriminating on the basis of sexuality. There are real logistical and safety-oriented reasons why you would want to keep a HIV positive person out of the country.”

The provision was actually introduced as a rider to a totally unrelated piece of legislation in the mid 80’s by the late Senator Jesse Helms, whose logistical and safety-oriented motivation pretty much always seemed to come down to “God hates fags.”

His fervent opposition to federally funded needle exchange programs has seen the IDU-based HIV infection rate in the US soar in comparison to Europe and Australia. So much for his safety concerns.

Since Helms introduced his rider, HIV has become a chronic, manageable disease in many of the nations that provide the bulk of visitors to the US and none of them have felt the slightest need to impose this sort of discriminatory barrier.

The point is that the US is alone in maintaining this prohibition apart from the Islamic bloc and some bastions of freedom in Asia and Africa.

They’re also alone – apart from pretty much the same confreres – on the gays in the military front. I understand that the Brits, French, Aussies, Kiwis, French, Germans, Spaniards, Italians, South Africans, Dutch, Belgians, Scandinavians etc are able to conduct military operations without the frontline turning into a Mardi Gras After Party – why can’t the US?

mo
mo
2022 years ago

Geoff,
The same reason people like Jesse Helms ever get elected. The same reason we can’t seem to allow homosexuals the right to form ‘unions’ (as most of our states’ constitutions refer to marriages). The same reason we started singing ‘God Bless America’ during the seventh inning stretch instead of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’.
Our vociferous voting everyman loves his Christian God and can’t seem to see past the glory of Him to form a sensical and ethical social policy. Plus we’re just not that bright, or haven’t you noticed.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Geoff, are you sure Jesse Helms is dead?

“I understand that the Brits, French, Aussies, Kiwis, French, Germans, Spaniards, Italians ..”

The Italians have an army? Since when?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Whoops….I think I meant the ex – or maybe the undead – Senator Helms.

According to the SBS World Guide (10th edition) the Italian Armed Forces comprise 265,000 people with 165,000 of them serving in the Army. They’re regular winners in the annual, “hottest uniforms in the EU,” competition

Mark S
Mark S
2022 years ago

Can the US be classed as a liberal democracy, semi-liberal at best I think. Its interesting Bush and co never precede the use of ‘democracy’ with ‘liberal’. No wonder given the rabid reactionary nature of the Bush administration.

David
2022 years ago

They do use “liberal” in a special way – as do we. Totally contradictory meanings, of course.

david
david
2022 years ago

“the US is also the only western nation that prohibits HIV positive people from obtaining visitor visas.”

And there is a problem with this? HIV is a deadly disease that is communicable. Would you invite people with SARS in to visit the country as well?

mo
mo
2022 years ago

Geoff,
I was curious and found on the U.S. State Department website some information about the visa application process. It seems HIV+ visitors are required to submit the following:
“- a letter from you physician addressing you current state of health, the risk to United States public health and the risk of spread of infection. If you suffer from hemophilia, a statement should be included stating that you will be carrying, and can administer an adequate supply of Factor VIII;
– a letter outlining the purpose of the trip, anticipated arrival date in the United States, the date by which you need to confirm travel arrangements, and anticipated length of stay in the United States. The letter should indicate that you will be covered by medical insurance during you stay.”
So, maybe not such a bad policy? (although, some additional text does get a bit ugly, stating “applicants who have a criminal conviction, are HIV positive, have a medical ineligibility, have been denied entry into or deported from the United States ” are required to got through additional processing – strange to lump them all together…)

david,
SARS is communicable by a cough – I’m not sure how this compares to the means of transmitting HIV? Also, along those same lines, should we restrict smokers from entering the States because second-hand smoke can kill?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

‘I was curious and found on the U.S. State Department website some information about the visa application process. It seems HIV+ visitors are required to submit the following:
“- a letter from you physician addressing you current state of health, the risk to United States public health and the risk of spread of infection. If you suffer from hemophilia, a statement should be included stating that you will be carrying, and can administer an adequate supply of Factor VIII;
– a letter outlining the purpose of the trip, anticipated arrival date in the United States, the date by which you need to confirm travel arrangements, and anticipated length of stay in the United States. The letter should indicate that you will be covered by medical insurance during you stay.”
So, maybe not such a bad policy? (although, some additional text does get a bit ugly, stating “applicants who have a criminal conviction, are HIV positive, have a medical ineligibility, have been denied entry into or deported from the United States ” are required to got through additional processing – strange to lump them all together…)

Strange indeed – and anyone who enters the US without medical insurance has to be crazy, but the State Dept seems less than concerned about it, generally. The fact that HIV is singled out in this respect is telling. There’s absolutely no barrier to people with all other manner of chronic illnesses entering the US as visitors – HIV stands alone. You can apply for “special purposes entry – HIV” but it’s by no means as freely granted as normal tourist entry. In practical terms, many HIV poz people visiting the US simply falsify their INS documentation and don’t reveal their serostatus. It’s highrisk because discovery of antiretroviral medication in baggage for instance has frequently led to disclosure, deportation and permanent banning from entry. To declare your status has the effect of branding you thus permanently with the INS and entry is granted only under very specific circumstances – attending an international AIDS conferencve or the like (though relatively few of them are held in the US these days, owing to the ban on entry)

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

The US is also the only western nation that prohibits HIV positive people from obtaining visitor visas.”

And there is a problem with this? HIV is a deadly disease that is communicable. Would you invite people with SARS in to visit the country as well.

David, viruses aren’t contained by borders. They’re contained by identifying transmission factors and acting to ensure that transmission is – as far as possible – contained, and new infections prevented. HIV is quite difficult to transmit. You need to have significant blood on blood interaction or else unprotected sex. Providing an HIV positive person avoids these situations he/she is no risk to anyone. No other developed nation has seen fit to impose a ban on HIV positive visitors and most of them have new infection rates well below those of the US.