February 03, 2010

I promise this is the last thing I post on DADT

I was hoping to leave behind any and all arguments for and against the DADT policy after yesterday's post, but I opened up today's Wall Street Journal to read an op-ed by Mac Owens -- a guy whose writings I always have time for and a man I respect very much -- against gays serving openly in the military. Finally, I thought, a smart conservative writer on military affairs is going to make a coherent case against gays in the military and will thus enlighten the public discourse.

Uh, no.

Here's the central passage in Mac's op-ed:

Winning the nation's wars is the military's functional imperative. Indeed, it is the only reason for a liberal society to maintain a military organization. War is terror. War is confusion. War is characterized by chance, uncertainty and friction. The military's ethos constitutes an evolutionary response to these factors—an attempt to minimize their impact.


Accordingly, the military stresses such martial virtues as courage, both physical and moral, a sense of honor and duty, discipline, a professional code of conduct, and loyalty. It places a premium on such factors as unit cohesion and morale. The glue of the military ethos is what the Greeks called philia—friendship, comradeship or brotherly love. Philia, the bond among disparate individuals who have nothing in common but facing death and misery together, is the source of the unit cohesion that most research has shown to be critical to battlefield success.


Philia depends on fairness and the absence of favoritism. Favoritism and double standards are deadly to philia and its associated phenomena—cohesion, morale and discipline—are absolutely critical to the success of a military organization.


The presence of open homosexuals in the close confines of ships or military units opens the possibility that eros—which unlike philia is sexual, and therefore individual and exclusive—will be unleashed into the environment. Eros manifests itself as sexual competition, protectiveness and favoritism, all of which undermine the nonsexual bonding essential to unit cohesion, good order, discipline and morale.

Now, the most obvious thing that will jump out at the reader here is that MAC OWENS IS USING ANCIENT GREEK CULTURE AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST (!!!) GAYS IN COMBAT. This is, obviously and not just for those of us who majored in classics, hilarious.

The second and less obvious thing that readers should note is that Mac's Greek is a hot tranny mess. Those of us of the Christian faith have C.S. Lewis to blameir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0151329168 for everyone thinking there is some hard and fast distinction between the Greek words for love -- philia, storge, eros and agape. The reality, though, is that this is an exegetical fallacyir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0801020867. In Ancient Greek texts, these four words for love were used a lot more interchangeably than readers of Lewis might be led to believe. (Just as the line between platonic comradery and sex blurred within many Greek fighting organizations.)

In the end, this op-ed is filled with exactly the kinds of assumptions and assertions about military effectiveness I spent all yesterday whining about. There is precious little hard evidence to back up what Mac argues. And, oh, I guess I should mention this one more time, but MAC OWENS USES MILITARY CULTURE IN ANCIENT GREECE AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST GAYS IN THE MILITARY.

That, together with the phrase "exegetical fallacy", is just awesome.