“I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.” Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a recent interview with the editors at the Chicago Tribune.
“Immoral” is a dangerous word to toss around. Especially when you work for an institution that doesn’t have much to brag about in the morality department. Whether we’re talking about the slaughter of millions of Native Americans after the government declared eminent domain on their lands, or the 1968 massacre of 300 Vietnamese at My Lai during the height of the Vietnam War, the military certainly doesn’t have a track record for being a moral leader.
Even when it was supposedly doing the right thing, for example, fighting against the Nazis in World War II. With President Harry Truman declaring, “This is the greatest thing in history,” our country unleashed two atomic bombs on two separate Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Countless civilians were killed to stop a war in which countless civilians were being slaughtered. One might have been enough, but Truman chose to drop two. The ends justified the means. Two wrongs made a supposed right.
More recently, President George Bush and his cabinet members lied to get us into war with a country that had done absolutely nothing to warrant such an attack. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found. No link to 9/11 existed. Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi deaths later, Bush still refuses to give up: Our nation’s soldiers are now fighting an unwinnable civil war that gets costlier every day, both in terms of the billions spent on it and the human lives lost on both sides.
Then there’s the individual atrocities that make the headlines in any war: The shameless torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The murder of all those innocent people at Haditha and Ishaqi. An American soldier’s rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family. There’s nothing glorious about war.
The day after Pace’s antigay comment hit the news, he released a statement saying that he regretted it. He refused to make an apology, though. He said that he should have stuck to the subject at hand in the Tribune interview, the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and not offered his “personal moral views.”
He’s right. Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t toss stones.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical, southern Italian, working-class queer performer, activist and writer whose work can be seen at www.avicollimecca.com.