Thursday, April 2, 2009

Disrespecting Our Troops, One Thousand Officers at a Time

Throughout their history, right-wing activists, when left with no facts to defend their case, have often turned to scare tactics to keep their crusades going. Whether it is "code red" terror alerts a few days before an election, or dire warnings about hurricanes seeking revenge for our pro-choice ways, the far right has long been fond of playing Jungian psychology to prey on ancient fears.

That is certainly the case with one of the right-wing's darlings of the moment, Elaine Donnelly (pictured), who heads up the misleadingly named Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly, who rose to fame by maligning brave, patriotic women who sign up for service in the armed forces, has recently set her sights on another set of troops, and set out to malign gays. From warning - before a Congressional committee, no less - of the "inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community" to repeatedly calling an Army command in Texas in an attempt to get a gay soldier fired, Donnelly has crossed lines of decency and respect again and again.

In fact, Donnelly's attacks on women (she recently said - you just can't make this up - that "to treat [women] equally would be unfair") and gays has become the subject of constant ridicule. Everyone from Jon Stewart to The Washington Post have lambasted her 18th century sensibilities.

Yet, while it's easy to use her rhetoric as fodder for news media comedy, the furor she spews is also based on outrageous bigotry that is not just inherently anti-woman and anti-gay. It's anti-military, too. Which is why it's all the more perplexing why some of those who have worn our country's uniform have also signed on to her campaign of disregard and disrespect for our country's troops . . . and given her more fuel to fire up her campaign of irrational fears.

Earlier this week, Donnelly released a list of 1,000 military officers - from a slew of 1-stars to a select few who wear 4 - to the Associated Press. The officers, who were surely recruited by Donnelly following a 2008 "secret meeting" she convened in Washington, urged President Obama to step back from his campaign promise to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and keep the counter-productive ban on gay troops permanently in place.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, a thousand officers are surely worth a look at the big picture. And the picture Donnelly and her minions paint is neither pretty nor based on what's best for our country, our military or our troops, whether straight or gay.

(Photo by Melina Mara for The Washington Post)

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