Santorum Doubles Down on DADT, With No Apology Or Thanks To American Soldier
September 23rd, 2011
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum followed up his criticism last night of gays serving openly in the military. In last night’s GOP presidential debate, in which an American soldier currently stationed in Iraq was booed by members of the audience, Santorum called the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” an exercise in “social experimentation.” Today, he appeared on Fox News’ morning program Fox and Friends, in which he falsely claimed that other nations’ militaries which allow gay people to serve openly are mostly non-volunteer forces.
Q: I don’t know if he had the same idea with you about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but I do know that you disagree with President Obama, which by the way got rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” just a couple of days ago. Let’s listen to what you said last night:
Santorum, during the debate: …Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege in removing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military’s job is to do one thing and that is to defend our country. [Applause] … What we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. …
Q: So you would go back to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if you become President?
Santorum: Absolutely. We haven’t even begun to see what the consequences of going to ‘DADT’ are going to be. The men and women who sign up for the military are now going to be placed in very difficult and uncomfortable personal situations, in very close quarter situations. Look, this is a volunteer military. In the other militaries where this has been tried by and large, have not been voluntary militaries. You’ve been required to serve. This is not, and so we’ve got to recruit people who would want to do this and now you’re going to put them in a very odd and uncomfortable environment. A lot of people, I believe are going to leave. I think a lot of folks aren’t going to join who otherwise would have joined, and that’s going to hurt our ratings, it’s going to hurt our ability to defend this country, and we shouldn’t be playing social experimentation. As I said last night, there is no role for playing sexual experimentation games in the United States military. This is about securing our country.
In fact, most of the militaries around the world which allow gays to serve openly are all volunteer forces, including Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay.
No mention was made about the booing of an active-duty American soldier by the debate audience. It is also the only time I can recall when an active-duty American servicemember appeared in a GOP debate who was not thanked for his service to our country. Andrew Sullivan reacts:
But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States … well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don’t actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits.
The shocking silence on the stage – the fact that no one challenged this outrage – also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn’t sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that’s because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he’s gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.
Can you even begin to imagine the hissy fit we would be hearing right now if any American active-duty soldier currently stationed in Iraq had been booed at a Democratic debate?