November 16, 2010

Gay Rights and the Killing Fields

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Isn’t it interesting that gay rights activists and the left in general so own the DADT issue now that we no longer register a picture like this one — from a protest and photo op led by Lt. Dan Choi on Sunday — in terms of an older left-wing reflex, summed up by a Vietnam-era image like this.

While still struggling to wrap my head around the idea that Americans could take an American war for granted, I also marvel at the day-to-day compromise involved in fighting for a more humanistic killing machine.

These thoughts got into my head after spending two days at the National Communications Conference — one of the biggest get-togethers for professors of communications and visual communications, especially after attending a panel on militarism yesterday.

I wasn’t aware of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich before, or the fact his gravestone has become a rallying monument for gay vets. See the complete slideshow: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Activists Hold Vigil At Grave Of Vietnam Veteran.

(caption: The gravestone of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich is shown, at Congressional Cemetery on November 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. Sgt. Matlovich who died in 1988 was a Vietnam Veteran who a received both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star and was later discharged from the Air Force for being gay. An inscription on his tombstone reads “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” Some “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal advocates consider Sgt. Matlovich’s gravesite to be a memorial to all gay veterans.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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