Well, that set off a torrent of email. A reader writes:
Truman signed the integration executive order in 1948, three years after he took office. Obama has been in office for less than six months. I'm not sure you can compare their "civil rights conviction" quite yet.
I agree that Obama should move more quickly on DADT -- at the same time, I would argue that Harry Truman didn't have to worry about having his legislative agenda tied up by a recalcitrant conservative opposition party, and lazy and compliant news producers all too willing to go along with GOP talking points in the hopes to gin up ratings through "Conflict!" stories.
Additionally, don't forget that when Harry Truman integrated the armed forces, the majority of racist support was located in the South -- and voted Democratic. It makes you think McCain may have had an easier time with the politics of repealing DADT.
Of course, we'd probably be in two to five additional wars by now, so we'd really need the extra troops...
President Obama unlike Truman has to deal with established law. There was no legal basis for keeping the army segregated when Truman issued his executive order.
For most of the 20th Century, the armed forces of the United States were largely comprised of conscripts. They had no choice but to serve, and so clearly they could not accept or reject the terms of their service. Today, however, our armed forces are entirely volunteer, and one of the consequences of that is that the armed forces have assumed the culture of these volunteers. That culture, from what I have read, seems largely evangelical and homophobic, and to force upon that culture a change for which it is not ready is to ask for a diminution of those volunteers, at a time when I would imagine that, recession or not, our armed forces continue to be hard pressed and with scarce manpower resources.As for gays, I can attest as a Vietnam Era veteran and as the son of a World War Two and Korean veteran that there have always been "gays in the military", and as a matter of fact they make excellent soldiers and sailors, tending to be very dedicated and on point. However, the military culture in general has always frowned on any openness in this area, probably because of the prevailing "Ick Factor." If or when it becomes apparent that the all volunteer armed forces has no problems with open gays in any units -- say, including combat arms -- then openness will take place. But as long as we are all volunteer, not until then.
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