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Respectfully, screw you Secretary Gates

On September 29, Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed Duke University. He made some admirable observations about the pool of military recruits that, demographically, is perhaps not as representative of America as would be ideal. He alludes that a better educated recruitment pool might be better equipped to face the high-tech challenges of a 21st century military. He pinpoints a problem, but neatly sidesteps his own responsibility in working toward a solution.

Gates, from Department of Defense transcript:

University faculty and administrators banned ROTC from many elite campuses during the Vietnam War and continued to bar the military based on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, with Duke being a notable and admirable exception, with your three host programs.

I’m encouraged that several other comparable universities, at the urging of some of their most prominent alumni, including the president of the United States, are at least reconsidering their position on military recruiting and officer training, a situation that has been neither good for the academy or the country.

But a return of ROTC back to some of these campuses will not do much good without the willingness of our nation’s most gifted students to step forward Men and women such as you.  One does not need to look too hard to find Duke exemplars of selflessness and sacrifice.

Respectfully, screw you Secretary Gates. As Washington Post’s Jonathan Capeheart rightly points out:

Many colleges and universities bar the ROTC because of the military’s shameful and discriminatory ban on gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.

You, Secretary Gates, have more power than any single human on Earth to get the military ROTC programs back on many of the campuses of the United States. The solution is simple: put some effort into doing what you say you want to do: help repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

One press conference from you, telling America you are not able to properly recruit the army you need because of this shameful and arcane policy and it would be gone. Imagine if Bush’s Republican Defense Secretary were to shame the GOP and John McCain on their obstructionism. If you were to focus the public’s attention on the harm they are doing to America’s National Security and your efforts to run a 21st century military the resistance would be cut off at the knees.

One press conference from you telling the Senate, vote now, vote for repeal and the dominoes of obstructionism would surely fall.

But instead you work at delaying and undermining and sabotaging the repeal efforts. You remain silent as the vote failed in the Senate, telegraphing your tacit approval to the Senate and the country.

And now you’re whining because LGBT advocates found a tool that effectively applies pressure to the Pentagon to do what’s right, to do what the American people want you to do. What all our allies did long ago.

Screw you and your whining. It only underscores why these ROTC campus bans are effective and must continue until the military agrees to honor LGB servicemembers appropriately for their selfless service to our country. And it is dismaying–but not surprising–to hear President Barack Obama is working to undermine the ROTC campus bans before he fulfills his promise to Lt. Col. Farhenbach and every LGB servicemember.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer