Conservative GW students seem to have been rather quiet about the recent dismissal of gay freshman Todd Belok from the school’s NROTC program. I suspect that it is because they are afraid of the accusations of bigotry that would inevitably follow any defense of NROTC’s actions or the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that it obeyed.
I, however, am in a unique position to articulate the conservative position, since I am both a Republican and a homosexual. I differ, though, from Todd Belok in that I am not usually in the habit of announcing or displaying my sexual preference; the only reason I do so today is to make it quite clear that the views I am about to express are not some disguised expression of “homophobic ignorance.”
Todd Belok has emerged as a hero following the reports that he was dismissed because other midshipmen witnessed him kissing another male at a party. The Hatchet recently said that Belok has received several supportive phone calls and e-mails (“Ousted ROTC student praised,” Feb. 23, p. 1). One former midshipman, who was dismissed from ROTC for similar reasons, suggested that he considers what Belok has done to be a demonstration of bravery. He is wrong.
What Belok has done is a demonstration of insubordination and that, I think, is something hardly compatible with military life.
If Belok was as devoted to serving in the Navy as he claims, he should have been a bit more prepared to conceal the one thing about him that could have, and ultimately did, make his dream impossible. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was his first order. Nobody asked, but he certainly told.
I sympathize with him though. I myself have learned how much of a nuisance homosexuality can be. At a young age, I was forced to choose between acknowledging very real homosexual feelings and fulfilling my aspiration to enter the Catholic clergy. Obviously I, like Belok, chose the former, but I, unlike Belok, did not expect the rules to change just because I had.
In fact, the particular circumstances of Belok’s dismissal are the perfect argument for keeping the rules that ban gays from military service. The congressional findings justifying the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy explain that the successful military is marked by “unit cohesion, that is, the bonds of trust among individual service members that make the combat effectiveness of a military unit greater than the sum of the combat effectiveness of the individual unit members” (10 U.S.C. 654(a)).
Congress supposed that homosexuality would prevent that cohesion, that “bond of brotherhood” from effectively developing and, because it was Belok’s fellow midshipmen that reported his actions, I believe they were correct.
One of the students who reported Belok explained his actions, saying “it was just an uncomfortable situation” for the other members of the NROTC (“‘Don’t Ask’ hits home for NROTC,” Feb 12, p. 1). While that same student later said he regretted reporting Belok, as long as that discomfort continued, GW’s midshipmen could not bond with Belok and thus could not have become the most effective unit possible.
This does not suggest that those midshipmen are hateful, but rather that they, along with what is probably a very large majority of people, are a little perturbed when they witness homosexual acts – even I am still shocked when I see two men kiss publicly.
Perhaps then there may be room for homosexuals in the military. It is the people parading their sexual orientation across the room that are and should be banned. Indeed, I doubt that there is much room for those people anywhere, homosexual or straight.
The writer is a freshman majoring in economics and history.
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