As most readers of this blog probably already know, a gay soldier asked a question about gay service members at a recent GOP Presidential candidate debate, and was roundly booed by the audience. The Tea Party members who were present in large numbers in that audience—and the candidates who remained silent then and afterward—evidently saw nothing inconsistent between wrapping themselves in the Stars and Stripes and dishonoring a citizen who has put his life on the line for them.
In fact, it has been interesting to see just how far the Republican base has strayed from its previous “support the troops no matter what” posture.
Recently, Republican Representative Buck McKeon, the Chair of House Armed Services Committee, publically announced that he is willing to see the entire defense authorization bill fail if Congress refuses to pass his proposed provision preventing military chaplains from marrying same-sex military couples.
Think about that for a minute. A Republican who is the Chair of the Armed Services Committee is saying that he would hold up the funding for all our military men and women, including troops now in the field, just to keep military Chaplains from performing same-sex weddings.
Even in the wake of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Republican Presidential candidates are insisting that they will re-instate the ban if elected. I’m waiting for a reporter—assuming we still have some of those—to ask these critics who are oh-so-picky about who can be a soldier just how they intend to fill the ranks without a draft. Enlistments are down, and it isn’t exactly a secret that recruiters have been bending the rules, taking enlistees with low IQs and felonies—but not gays, heaven forbid!—in order to make their quotas. (Somehow, I doubt that the “patriots” will step up to fill the gap themselves.)
Wasn’t it just a few years ago that the GOP talking points included accusations of treason against people who just wanted to trim some of the Pentagon’s more wasteful budget requests?
If hypocrisy smelled, we’d all be suffocating these days. The troops are “our boys” and we owe them so much—unless they’re gay, in which case we don’t even owe them constitutional equality.
It isn’t only on GLBT issues, of course—look at the reactions to the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators. Right-wing commentators on Fox and elsewhere are waxing positively hysterical over the chutzpah of the lefties who dare to criticize corporate greed. Current front-runner Herman Cain (the self-styled mogul who grew his pizza business into something like the 8th largest chain in the country) has characterized the demonstrators as “too lazy” to hold jobs, and “jealous” of those who have made something of themselves. Lest he be misunderstood, he’s repeatedly said that the jobless have no one to blame but themselves. (Let them eat cake…er, pizza.)
These descriptions of the “hippy” protestors might have a bit more gravitas had the same people not reacted so differently to the emergence of the Tea Party. When Tea Party “patriots” took to the streets, those who now pooh-pooh and disparage Occupy Wall Street as an unruly mob celebrated the folks in tri-corner hats as citizen activists who were taking their country back. The excesses—the hateful rhetoric, the misspelled racist signs, were conveniently overlooked or attributed to a “small fringe.”
We need to work on some new political slogans for these folks. We’ve had “Free Speech for Me, but Not for Thee.” How about “Support Our Heterosexual Troops” or “God Bless the Americans Who Agree With Me”?