President Obama set in motion one of the best advances in civil rights for the one remaining class of Americans still denied them during his State of the Union last month. In calling for the end to the structurally discriminatory so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays and lesbians in the U.S. military, he laid it out in unambiguously moral terms for the entire nation and world to hear.But for some ideologically-selfish Objectivist gay activists, that’s still not good enough.
Obama’s was not just a call for an end to a bad policy. It was couched in a five paragraph paean to the fact that Americans do things “because it is right,” beginning with their recovery efforts in Haiti, children seeking an education in Afghanistan, women seeking human rights in Iran, and those denied a job by corruption in Guinea. “America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity,” he intoned, adding, “America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals.”
“We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we’re all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values, you should be treated no different than anyone else.”
This was Obama’s context for saying, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.”
Now, as hearings on the subject began in the U.S. Senate last week, the administration and the top brass in the military indicated that while it may take awhile for the policy to be officially terminated, right away there has been an order to dramatically pull back from the enforcement of it.
Still, there are those in the gay rights “movement” who remain skeptical and openly critical of the pace for change of the Democratic administration and legislative majority. Perhaps they will never be satisfied even when all the discriminatory laws will have been repealed, because they’ll find ways to criticize their implementation.
Perhaps there is some virtue in this approach. But it also must be said that when such an approach has the effect of weakening the political forces that are moving resolutely toward your equality, the ulterior motives operative in such efforts cry out to be scrutinized, themselves.
For those within the “movement,” it is well known that a lot of the energy of the LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) movement nowadays is coming from activists steeped in the philosophy and “ethics” of Objectivism, an too-oft overlooked or dismissed cult-favorite philosophical current among LGBTs on college campuses across the U.S.
Objectivism is the brain child of Ayn Rand. It touts, in essence, the notion that an individuals’ personal happiness is the moral purpose of life. It is a radical mix of individual liberty and laissez-faire capitalism that while demanding the right to personal happiness, condemns any form of government regulation or control on any level of society. It is an ultimately selfish approach to life, touting the “value of selfishness.” It on the one hand rejects religious dictums or controls on behavior, and on the other hand opposes anti-trust laws, public education and even child labor laws.
So, to what extent is this thinking behind, say, the unsavory cover story in the February 2010 issue of LGBT-community’s The Advocate magazine, with a cartoon donkey and the headline, “Gays to the DNC: Kiss My Ass?”
Objectivists tout the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and other discriminatory laws. But don’t confuse them with the kind of morality that President Obama presented in his State of the Union as the justification for those legal changes.
Those of us in the LGBT community who share the President’s vision and values need to step up and stand for their fullest possible implementation on behalf of humanity as a whole, and not just for the pursuit of individual selfishness that animates some of their so-called brothers and sisters
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org