“Elaine’s List” of 1,100 officers doesn’t represent today’s Military
March 9th, 2010
Elaine Donnelly, despite her best efforts, continuously illustrates that the case for keeping openly gay servicemembers from the US Military is based on bias, animus, fear, and irrationality.
Whether she’s being laughed out of Congress for her fears or marauding gangs of lesbians, babbling ineptly opposite Dan Choi on CNN, or claiming that retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili called for the repeal of the law because he’d suffered from a stroke, Elaine can always be counted on to make a fool of herself and her cause in ways we never could.
Yet in April 2009 when she came up with her declaration that “1,100 high-ranking retired Flag and General Officers for the Military have personally signed a statement expressing support for the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military”, I bought it. I figured that Elaine had found a way to link into a network of conservative former military officers who were now free to state their opposition to equality. Considering that military personnel generally are more conservative politically, and considering that those now retiring might reflect somewhat older perspectives, how hard would it be to get a legitimate and relevant list?
And I’m not the only one to assume that her 1,100 officers were representative of some segment of recent members of the Military. John McCain has been waving around this list in the Senate claiming that it represents the views of those who know best. But both McCain and I should have known better. This is Elaine Donnelly, after all.
But Servicemembers United wasn’t fooled; they took a closer look. They’ve not yet gotten through the entire list, but they’ve looked at 200 officers and have issued a preliminary report telling us a bit more about “Elaine’s List.”
So who are these 1,100 Officers?
Well, to start with, some of them make John McCain look like a spring chicken. The average age of their sample was 74, with the oldest living signatory being about 99. “Living signatory” you ask? Well, yes. Because at least one of them “signed” the letter after he died and several more are no longer living.
Others have no recollection of being asked about the list, several indignantly stating that they didn’t authorize the use of their name, and some saying that they don’t support the ban on gay servicemembers.
And then there was the scoundrel problem. Some of her glorious officers left service under some not-so-glorious circumstances. While most signatories were honorable, Elaine had no problem including the fellow who gave false testimony to Congress about an anthrax vaccine, the guy who severely threatened relations with Japan, or various other men of poor judgment.
But whether or not her officers are alive, lucid, and of good character, few were qualified to offer an opinion. Most had left the military long before DADT was put in place.
These guys hail from the good ol’ days when ‘darkies’ knew their place, obedient wives met you at the door with a cocktail in hand, whores were discreet, and an open attack on a fellow soldier suspected of being gay was not only socially acceptable but a sign of your own manhood. Although Captain Jim Jefferis never made it high enough in rank to sign Elaine’s List, his postcard from the 1940’s published at Peter LaBarbera’s site gives us an idea of the mindset of a few of these good ol’ boys.
During my enlisted service, homosexuals seemed to be a clumsy lot. They had a tendency to repeatedly fall headfirst down an engineroom ladder. Some were even known to trip on deck and “fall” overboard.
Yes, no doubt. But everything I’ve heard from service men and women today is that they are too busy fighting a complicated war to decide which of their fellow soldiers they were going to murder next. If today’s American soldiers share Jefferis’ appalling lack of character, then we have bigger worries than the Taliban.
So yes, Elaine has done it again. She’s proven again to be a valuable asset to our community. Now that opponents of open service are relying so strongly on Elaine’s List, the exposure of who’s on the list may well drive the nails into DADT’s coffin.