Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | September 17, 2010

“Religious Bigots”: Out of the Formation!

Sometimes it just has to be pointed out: I predicted this.  (Here and here as well.)  I explained that reversing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military doesn’t mean ushering in tolerance, it means the opposite.  Tolerance is what the military has today.  Enforced intolerance – not just of religious belief, but of resistance to endorsing gay behavior for others reason (e.g., what you may not want your kids to see at the Post Exchange) – is what the military will come up with.  The military operates affirmatively:  what it acknowledges, it has a policy on.  Deviations from policy are not authorized.

I couldn’t know the senior ranks of the military would demonstrate this so unequivocally in advance, of course.  But in a remarkable address to the troops at US European Command in Germany recently, Army Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick did just that.  Here are his words, as reported by The Washington Times (via Fox Nation; emphasis added):

Bostick, the Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters … spoke about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before several hundred troops at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “Unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are still racists and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of all of them,” Lt. Gen. Bostick said. “But these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they can’t, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you’re always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today.”

This isn’t a random general officer, either:  it’s the DCOS for Personnel on the Army staff.  It’s the man in charge of administering personnel policies for the Army.  Given that he was speaking to the troops in an official situation, he was not expressing a personal opinion.  He was enunciating Army policy.

I imagine this will become widely known very quickly, and people will be justifiably incensed.  Keep in mind, as this issue develops, that this is what had to happen.  The military is an affirmative institution.  As long as it doesn’t want to know about homosexuality, it doesn’t have to enforce a policy by which some are labeled “bigots” for their “moral and religious” beliefs.  As soon as it does want to know, it has to have a policy that homosexuality is a positive good, and that there is no right to have reservations about it, or to recuse oneself from whatever affirmations or celebrations its activists demand.

Cross-posted at Hot Air.


  1. How about the double standard that there will be “good” Taliban and “good” Muslims that the armed services can cooperate with via their “coin” theme, but people who disagree with the “current” politically correct version of civilization on the US side should get out of the armed services. The founders were right about freedom of thought and creed. You may not agree with your neighbor’s values but protecting their right to those values protects your own. Maye this will expose the armed services hypocrisy with their “coin” program. No one is upholding democracy by that program, they’re only making expediency a virtue in forming alliances with opposition peoples.

    • That’s an interesting perspective indeed, Orcas: that Muslims must be given the benefit of the doubt in all situations — including those that directly put our troops at risk — but no such allowances can be made for Christians, or others who have a moral objection to homosexuality.

      It’s not just people who object morally, either; it’s people whose sense of decorum and comfort suffers, even though they don’t put it in terms of a moral objection. In civilian life, everyone can choose how much overtly gay behavior he admits into his personal sphere. In the military that will be decided for him.

      Yes, it is very interesting that we bend over backward to accommodate the practices — including religious practices — of Muslims, up to and including known terrorists. But in the meantime, the plans are being made to override the religious freedom of our own soldiers.

  2. LtG BosticK is saying he never said that.

    • James S. — welcome! Sorry for the delay on the one-time approval for new commenters. Any comments you make should post automatically from now on.

      I’m glad to see the general is denying the statement. Washington Times is standing by the information, however:

      I’d like to just believe LTG Bostick, but the comments were very specific and given as direct quotes, and TWT says they have multiple sources from among soldiers who were in attendance at the Bostick event. TWT has a clear political agenda and sometimes emphasizes right-wing interpretations, but it doesn’t have a history of making things like this up.

      That said, I’m glad to see the denial. The military’s in a tough spot here, and my sympathies are with anyone who is having to manage policy on this issue.

  3. Frankly, I’m still conflicted about this issue, because I know there are wonderful men & women who serve and have served (and will undboutedly serve in future) in the military who are gay. In fact, not that long ago, it was an open secret that a majority of women who joined the military (aside from those in the nursing profession) were lesbian (since it was not, in those past generations, promoted as something to which “ladies” of a certain type & class aspired). Obviously, much has changed, and now, thank goodness, straight women are attracted to the military for career and leadership opportunities, etc.

    My late husband, who served as part of the Civilian Technical Corps with the RAF (although he was an American) throughout WW2, often commented to me, when this subject was broached on TV or in the newspaper, that some of the best and most fearless pilots in the RAF were gay. He knew, liked and respected many gay Brits who served loyally and effectively during that seminal period in our mutual history.

    However, given the age and the so-called “raging hormones” of young people serving in the military – and the fact that mixing in women with men in virtually all aspects of military life has had its share of unintended sex, sexual harrassment and unwanted pregnancies – adding in openly gay men and women might (would?) present even more challenges to the morale, regimentation and discipline that is expected of the military to keep in top fighting & performing form.

  4. Joy — thanks for your thoughtful response. Although order and discipline are very important, I have always maintained that good unit leadership is 90% of success in that area. There are already gays serving in the military, and people usually know who they are. Accommodation, respect, and self-control keep things in check most of the time.

    The biggest problem with open gay service in the US armed forces is our political culture of litigation and advocacy. If you read my piece from July 2009 (linked in the top line of the post), I outline the ways this culture has already forced co-workers in civilian life to positively affirm homosexuality, or be subject to punishment. That is guaranteed to happen in the military, and it shouldn’t.

    What we can tolerate from a distance in civilian life, military servicemembers will have to start declaring themselves one way or another on. It’s unconscionable to even think of demanding that officers and NCOs give up their moral/religious beliefs in order to be promoted, but that’s how the military will administer this.

    The comment attributed to General Bostick is in character for the kind of planning the military is probably doing right now. But even if the planning weren’t being done (and I’m sure it is), gay litigation groups will begin bringing lawsuits immediately if Congress formally repeals DADT. The Pentagon will have to choose the defensive path sooner or later of requiring that everyone in uniform actively affirm his support of homosexuality.

    • By” give up their moral and religious beliefs” you mean forego publicly disapproving of homosexuality while in uniform, don’t you? You mean conforming with policy requiring association with other service members who are homosexual?

      Would fraternizing with homosexuals be offensive to your religious beliefs or to those of others that you know or have known?

      Is being commingled with sinners sinful in itself?

  5. Optimistic: I really appreciate YOUR thoughtful – and detailed – response, especially since it pointed out (and, frankly, reminded me!) that forcing EVERYONE to “be open” – actually, take a personal & public stand – one way or another, is almost in direct violation of our basic First Amendment rights! No where – even in civilian life – do we “elevate” one’s sexual orientation/preference to the status of “MUST tell, MUST ask!!” So that’s not only unfair to those whose religious/personal beliefs do not condone homosexuality, but to gays themselves who might prefer – especially when they’re young and not yet certain or confident with such conflicting feelings – to NOT make their orientation (or what they THINK, at 20, MIGHT be their orientation) a matter of public record. This is really counter to all our beliefs in Freedom to Speak – or NOT to Speak. And just as we should not be compelled to discuss – let alone take a stand on – any particular religion, so, too, should sexual orientation be a very private matter and NOT subject or open to discussion. Of course, that works the other way, too: i.e., one needs to keep one’s mouth closed in certain working/professional environments about such matters – just as we are expected to behave in civilian life, particularly in the professional, business and academic world! Either way, it’s a form – and an unacceptable one, at that – of sexual harrassment!

  6. I was a Jewish draftee in Vietnam. Reluctantly, I came to appreciate some uniquely wonderful things about military life, especially the bonding. Now many of my fellow soldiers have found each other joyfully on the internet 45 years later.

    One of the things I hated was the red neck culture of many of the noncoms. When we asked for High Holiday leave, you’d think we deserted our unit in the middle of a firefight the way they acted.

    Thankfully, the numbers of black NCOs have increased. They were almost always the fairest and the best.

    Now, what does this have to do with gays in the military? It seems to me the military ain’t Yale, and Yale’s culture shouldn’t become the military’s culture, so as not to piss off the Gay Students Union at Yale. The military is voluntary now and if you want to be a soldier you should be willing to keep private whatever parts of you life the military wants you to keep private. A good soldier is a good soldier, and I can tell you Martina Navratilova would have made an excellent soldier.

    So, what am I doing here, and why am I not in Schul? I’ve got bronchitis real bad, and last night everyone around me was distracted by the coughing.

    So, let me ask forgiveness here and now from all the people I wronged during the past year.

    Shana Tova, my frems.

  7. Fuster, I think Zoltan said it best (and I should have remembered this key point myself!): Namely, the military IS a VOLUNTARY insititution these days; and, indeed, if one wants to be a soldier, it’s not out of line to keep those aspects of your life private that the military deems best be kept private! And as I said above, it is the height of folly to legislate, “MUST ask, MUST tell!!” Finally, I thought those who “hate the sin (of homosexuality)” actually “love the sinner,” so fighting alongside someone who is gay (but not openly so) should not be considered a “sinful” act by “co-mingling with sinners.”

    I guess this can be both a very complicated issue for some and a very simple one for others. I’ve never been in the military, so my views are are thus hampered by lack of that experience.

  8. Living my whole life in San Francisco, the Optimist has a valid point about self segregation and boundaries. The Castro is sort of a self selected gay ghetto. I live in a part of SF with a lot of Asian families because the housing stock in that area of town is easily set up for multi-generational families. My now adult children were fortunate to attend a private school with an alternate curriculum as kids, the head of school was one of the most briilliant and innovative educators I’ve ever encountered. She was gay. People bond over shared goals, good education for children or availability of multipurpose housing for example.Beyond this in SF are the various “rent a mobs”. Depending on the issue they show up and some are actually “rented”, they make a living running and getting the “mobs” funded usually with non-profit status. What I think the Optimist is referencing in her posts is the inevitability of the “rent a mob” mentality. That type of mentality is never process and results oriented, very dangerous in an environment where a team of people must work together for a result, not stand around making ideological points.

    • Orcas — you’ve grasped it very well. It’s a free country, and people can make their whole lives about the kind of advocacy most folks can’t buy into, if that’s what they want. But it makes no sense, and it starts trampling on the rights of others, to insist on enforcing the views of one loud advocacy group on institutions, whether it’s the public schools or federal agencies.

      I suspect most American adults now know that they know at least one gay person, or have known at least one. For the vast majority of life’s situations, no one sits around brooding about it, regardless of his religious background. We’re all just people, and there’s so much more to our interactions with each other.

      But you’ve nailed it with the reference to people self-selecting into or out of Castro. That’s what people naturally do, and it’s not because accountants who happen to be gay live in Castro, it’s because of what you’ll see on the streets of Castro 24/7 if you live there. Most people self-select out of being surrounded by certain conditions — because in private civilian life, they have the option to. In the military, that won’t be the case.

  9. Joy — it’s very patient of you to give fuster a straight answer. If he doesn’t know by now that his characterizations are false, he should. His style is to “come out provoking,” however.

    In reponse to your comments, Christians and gays have served side by side with no problems, and will no doubt continue to.

    (There’s much less of the redneck suspicion of Jews now too, as recounted by ZN. He might be surprised to know that virtually every flag-level command in the military now sponsors a seder at Passover, to which Jews and Christians — and even some Muslims — come. Christians are, of course, always in the majority at these events. 🙂 Naturally, Jews who can’t participate in daily operational activities on the Sabbath or high holy days don’t even join the military. But in garrison or outside of operational deployment, Sabbath observance and Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur are well understood. When units are forward deployed, commanders do what they can to accommodate time-off requests, but Christians work on Christmas and Easter when they have to, as Jews do on the Day of Atonement.)

    The question is not whether Christians and gays are nice to each other; almost all are, and those who aren’t are not expressing the commands of what they believe in. That’s a red herring.

    • sorry, opticon, but I’m sober and serious. The entirety of your argument is that the military is going to command that all of its members tolerate homosexuals and that it will be forbidden to snub them or speak out against the sinfulness of homosexuality while in military service on military property and receiving the benefits of military service.

      homosexual conduct being made subject to the same restrictions as heterosexual conduct neither thrills me nor repulses me. the military has cried against accepting, and yet survived, Jews, Negroes, and women.

      • Nonsense, fuster. Military members already tolerate homosexuals. No one has to require them to. The occasional ones who don’t are punished in accordance with the UCMJ.

        You don’t get to redefine “tolerance” and “endorsement” to mean the same thing. It’s endorsement that will be required, as I’ve made very clear with numerous examples. If you care to argue a point about one of those, go ahead.

        • “endorsement” ?

          how about you define what it is that you mean by “endorsement”



          opt for one definition, why dontcha, cause AFAI can see, you keep trying to hop from the military ruling homosexuality allowable to saying that the military will be demanding that its members stop saying bad things about homosexuality to implying that there’s implicitly a preference for homosexuality somewhere among the supporters for reform or somewhere in the result.

          Far as I can see, you’re the confused one. behind the cloud of nits is no more than you believing but trying not to explicitly say “It’s wrong and against the word of my God and therefore regulating it into regularity is oppressive.”

          Cross Hockey.

  10. Thanks, Optimist – appreciated the add’l comments! And yes, of course, military – and, above all, the IDF!! – are on call and patrol 24/7/365, as war & terrorism never takes a holiday – fun or religious….

  11. Since the subject is shifting, my Rabbi is very concerned about Russian and German assistance to Iran. So, while Andrew Sullivan and his crowd can turn just about everything into a gay rights issue, there are real issues in our real world which might really result again in millions of people murdered again.

    I wish our brilliant hostess would turn her astute attention to this very real issue, the power of American military technology and its relation to Israel. For the first time, the new bomber/interceptors Israel is getting will be restricted in various ways. In the meantime, Saudi, the nation which sent us three quarters of the 9/11 murderers, is treated like our rich uncle who must eat first and get everything he wants, and this is the pattern under both Bush and Obama. I gather a planeload of Saudi Royals and their servants was allowed to leave shortly after 9/11 while all others were grounded for weeks.

    One of the top Saudi Princes was a college classmate of my best friend. The man was and probably still is one of the most arrogant, sneering individuals he has ever known.

    And these are supposed to be our trusted allies!


    Do you think Andrew Sullivan should visit Iran and Saudi, and set them straight?

  12. I will answer the question myself and see if our hostess and others agree.

    Its the money, honey. The storied thing called “Arab Hospitality” (‘my tent is your tent’) most likely explains why so many in London, New York and Washington, DC in unison ask how high when the Saudi FM and his hundred cousins asks them to jump.

    Never mind “The Israel Lobby,” these guys in robes have bought so many politicians, university presidents, and CEOs it ain’t funny. And the other part of their strategic largess has gone to schools and mosques all over the world (including here) which incite hatred and violence on a daily basis.

  13. Zoltan, I can relate to your concerns and your disdain of the Saudis – they ARE, on balance, a pretty dispicable bunch and wouldn’t get to first base without their money anda their oil. But, as you pointed, that’s the problem. If we can EVER achieve some form of semi-energy independence (drill, baby, drill!), that would be step one, wherein we wouldn’t be quite as beholding to them for that vital resource. But from the world sales of their oil, they derive great wealth & power – and THAT’s not so easily denied. Money talks – and, especially in this time of economic downturn, that money is MORE than welcome, and just about every merchant/retailer in the world will overlook everything for a piece of that action (much like rock stars that trash hotels, but also pay HUGE bills that most everyone else – except those Saudi desert trash – simply cannot afford).

    I’m inclined to think, however, that the sales – with restrictions – of weaponry, etc. to Israel, relate more to the current regime’s cool relations with Israel than to the Saudis’ supposed influence over USA policy itself. But with Mr. religious hermophradite in the WH, there’s no telling what motivates that strange & frightening creature.

  14. The evidence is coming in that our host is preternaturally perspicacious.

    I note the comments of Adm Mike Mullen before Congress, advocating for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, suggesting that the trajectory events is exactly as outlined here:

    “If lifting the ban causes some people to ‘quit the service,’ Mullen said indifferently, ‘we’ll deal with that.’ Soldiers who don’t want to live, shower, and fight with homosexuals should look for a new job, he told senators.”

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