Bill O'Rielly, John Stossel Come Out Against DADT

Well, this is a pleasant surprise.  If you missed Bill O'Reilly's appearance on the Jay Leno show last night, you missed something important.  O'Reilly came out (no pun intended) against the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and expressed dismay about the President not signing an executive order halting its implementation.  He went further, calling the policy "just not fair," and calling for us to "stop this nonsense."

Charlie Eisenhood at Think Progress gives us the relevant portion of the conversation:
LENO: I don’t know if you heard the thing I was mentioning, it actually made me angry. That kid, the West Point kid [Dan Choi], what’s your take on that?

O’REILLY: Well I don’t get it. President Obama has the power to stop this Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell business. Just sign an executive order. I don’t know why it’s taking so long.

LENO: And to me, doesn’t it cost like $300,000 to send a kid to West Point? He speaks Arabic…Anybody that’s willing to take a bullet for me is OK in my book.

O’REILLY: Yeah, but $300,000 to the government – that’s like $0.30, you know what I mean? So, they don’t care about cost. But, look, it’s just not fair, we should stop this nonsense.

Here is the video:



Wow is a little bit of an understatement here.  This is also an apparent change from O'Reilly's position from back in February, when he seemed in favor of continuing the policy, because, he argued, mostly conservatives enlist in the military, and that many of them may be uncomfortable in a barrack with openly gay people.

Indeed, I find myself in agreement with Bill O'Reilly.  President Obama ought to issue an immediate stop-loss order halting the discharging of gay soldiers.  I have often been sympathetic to the President's position of having to enforce laws as they are, but most legal experts seem to agree that the President, as Commander-in-Chief indeed has the power to unilaterally issue any stop loss order, particularly in a time of war.  Yes, it may become an election-year issue, but I don't think a Democratic president will find a better political cover than Bill O'Reilly.

Bill O'Reilly is not the only conservative media personality to have warmed to the prospect of giving patriotic gay Americans the chance to serve our country openly and honestly.  John Stossel, another Fox personality and a self-labeled libertarian, writing for an ultra conservative publication, Human Events, calls today for DADT to be abolished.  His first argument out the door?  The same one liberal advocates of LGBT rights have been making for a long time:
America is one of many countries that forbid openly gay people to serve in the military. Others are: Cuba, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey and Venezuela.

See a pattern?

With a few exceptions, those are not countries where free people want to live.

By contrast, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain all allow gay people to serve.
Indeed, it seems that the free world - of which our President is often called the leader - does not have qualms about allowing gay people to serve openly in their armed forces.  The concern-trolling about our soldiers having to serve with gay people "in the barracks" and unit cohesion is also thus put to rest: our troops already serve side by side with soldiers from our allied countries, almost all of which have openly gay soldiers.  Hillary Clinton's quote comes to mind: You do not have to be straight to shoot straight.

I kind of like the illustration Human Events did for the piece, too.

ClosetSoldier
Credit: Human Events.

Stossel reminded us that we are not only terminating people who have served our country with distinction, we are turning away mission critical troops: Arabic and Farsi linguists, for example.

Stossel goes further and throws in his support for marriage equality, arguing a libertarian point of view.
Just as I see no reason why gays should not be free to marry, I see no reason why they shouldn't be free to be in the military.
How it can be so clear to even Fox hosts that gay rights are about the fundamentally American principles of freedom and liberty and yet such a vast portion of the conservative movement can remain so strongly opposed to it is a little curious.

What I see here is an emergence of a new movement of gay rights.  Maybe the the media personalities on the right can see the writing on the wall and are only coming on board now so they wouldn't look bigoted.  Maybe it's entirely opportunistic.  But the truth is that if these opinion leaders on the right really mean business, and do their job in moving their viewers, listeners and readers to see the light, the left-right divide on this civil rights issue of our generation may indeed become much less prominent.  Perhaps more importantly, if they do their jobs right, they can prevent our (mostly Republican) politicians who want to exploit this issue for political gain.

There really ought not be a left-right, liberal-conservative divide on the issue of full equality and the freedom to serve.  There ought not be a big debate about whether a grateful nation should be as grateful to her gay soldiers as to her straight ones.  Courage, service and valor do not -- and ought not -- belong to one side of the political spectrum, and nor do they belong to one end or other of the spectrum of sexual orientation.  Jay Leno is right - anyone willing to take a bullet so that the rest of may sleep peacefully at night deserves nothing but the thanks of this great country.  I am not a fan of either O'Reilly or Stossel, but I do credit them for acknowledging this basic issue of fairness, and I thank them.