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Standing Up for Truth
By MAJ W. DeCamp, USMC
Major Charles B. Johnson made headlines when he . boldly stopped an Israeli tank at gunpoint from pass- lng his company’s checkpoint in Beirut, Lebanon, on 2 February 1983. His actions were typically Marine: His orders were that no one would pass his checkpoint, and, by God, no one did.
Major Johnson’s actions were physically fearless and ^orally courageous—grounded in a deep moral revulsion at the indiscriminate way the Israelis were carrying out their mjssion in Southern Lebanon (as Wltnessed in the refugee camp ^assacres in September 1982).
Mtey also highlighted the •fioral dilemma posed by Marines’
mission in Major Johnson’s sP°ntaneous, unpretentious actions called attention to Jae need for a moral calcu- as in the formulation of ■S- policy in Lebanon and lae world. Had anyone paid Intention at the time, his ac- lQns might have been instrumental in changing that Policy; instead, it took 241 ead Marines and sailors— Vlctims of a terrorist bomb- j,n§ on 23 October 1983— °r our leaders to get the Message. President Ronald
afines from Beirut on 26
Ironically, the tenth an- s'v®rsary of Major John- g°n s heroism and of the eirut bombing now coin-
Q' with President Bill Clinton’s compromise decision I'ft'ng the ban against declared homosexuals serving 0lLe military. Major Johnson opposed lifting the ban cn *egal and moral grounds. While generals and politics quibbled and equivocated. Chuck Johnson, with erything to lose but his soul and his self, resigned his ^^'ssion on July 15, 1993, ending 17 years of honor- f service to his country. Like Saint Thomas More, one’°r ^°ftnson believes that, in moral matters, loyalty to s conscience eclipses loyalty to any other thing, u .. J°r Johnson is not a homophobe. Rather, he sincerely eves—like the majority of men and women in the e4 forces—that homosexuality is incompatible with
military service. He bases his argument on the deleterious effects that homosexuals in the ranks would have on the bonds of brotherly love that are the essence of unit cohesion and victory in battle.
German Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm defined brotherly love as “love among equals,” unique in its universality, that stresses identity and overcomes differences. Brotherly love results in “relatedness from core to core.” It binds men in combat and generates their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their buddies. It is vital to survival in battle. Fromm distinguishes brotherly love from erotic love—which is by its very nature exclusive.—as defined by sexual intercourse between two people. Exclusive love has no place on the battlefield because it must necessarily overshadow brotherly love by forming a bond that cannot be shared with all members of the unit. When that exclusive love is homosexual, the separation and isolation felt by the members of the unit are compounded by their cultural and religious norms (which are codified in Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice). Brotherly love, with its concomitant mutual faith and trust, wins battles; erotic love—between men and men or women and women in the armed forces—will rape our core values, pillage our faith in one another, and bum our will to win.
Contrary to the proponents of lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military, the majority of men and women in the armed forces and the nation think that the defining act of the homosexual—sodomy—is morally wrong. Alexandre Solzhenitsyn warned that mixing right and wrong opens the floodgates to the triumph of absolute evil in the world. What better way for the savants of moral relativism and scientists of explanation to break the levee than to extort acceptance of homosexuality in the military institution?
The military should not be a laboratory for social experimentation if there is even a remote possibility that it will reduce readiness, erode good order and discipline, and threaten national security. America must not support an anthropocentric policy that permits military men and women to operate at the outer limits of their individual freedoms and base instincts to the detriment of duty, responsibility, sacrifice, and moral heritage—which have
eedinj»s / September 1993
ARLEIGH BURKE ESSAY CONTEST
This time, the tank rolled over Major Johnson. Few too1
served the Republic well for 217 years.
The issue of lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military is a matter of life and death, honor and dishonor, for the military and the nation. The choices we make define our values and ourselves. “If there is anything wrong with homosexuals in the military as a matter of policy, there is everything wrong with it,” said Major Johnson—so high are the stakes of the decision.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise is an insidious invitation to lie—passively dishonest doublespeak, moral schizophrenia. Homosexuality is incompatible with military service, and nuances of language and euphemistic rhetoric cannot camouflage a policy that is morally flawed. We can no more have separate moralities for our military and private lives than we can divide our souls. We are Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen 24 hours a day; our character is defined not only by what we achieve in battle but also by what we do in the dark.
“Troops are more likely to demonstrate courage and loyalty when they believe in the integrity of their leaders,” said Richard T. DeGeorge, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kansas. Where is the integrity of leaders who institute a policy that begs the lie? Where is the integrity of homosexual leaders who will live the lie? The troops will be called upon to demonstrate more courage and loyalty than they really have. Combat is no place for frauds.
Honest men, like Major Johnson, reconcile their words and actions with their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Saint Thomas More asked of Oliver Cromwell, “Is it my place
The U.S. Naval Institute is proud to announce its tenth annual Arleigh Burke Essay Contest, which replaces the former annual General Prize Essay Contest.
Three essays will be selected for prizes.
Anyone is eligible to enter and win. First prize earns $3,000, a Gold Medal, and a Life Membership in the Naval Institute. First Honorable Mention wins $2,000 and a Silver Medal. Second Honorable Mention wins $1,000 and a Bronze Medal.
The topic of the essay must relate to the objective of the U.S. Naval Institute: “The advancement of professional, literary, and scientific knowledge in the naval and maritime services, and the advancement of the knowledge of sea power.”
Essays will be judged by the Editorial Board of the U.S. Naval Institute.
1. Essay s must be original, must not exceed 4,000 words, and must not have been previously published. An exact word count must appear on the title page.
2. All entries should be directed to: Publisher, U.S. Naval Institute, 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5035.
3. Essay must be received on or before 1 December 1993 at the U.S. Naval Institute.
4. The name of the author shall not appear on the essay. Each author shall assign a motto in addition to a title to the essay. This motto shall appear (a) on the title page of the essay, with the title, in lieu of the author’s name and (b) by itself on the outside of an accompanying sealed envelope. This sealed envelope should contain a typed sheet giving the name, rank, branch of service, biographical sketch, social se
to say ‘good’ to the State’s sickness? Can 1 help my Kinf' by giving him lies when he asks for the truth?” Whetf have the John Lejeunes, Billy Mitchells, George Marshalls and Arleigh Burkes gone? Where are the men who spok- and acted on what they knew to be right and true? In u, | political climate where the will to believe breeds acqui escence through fear and intimidation and stifles objeC'Ul”! tive thinking and freedom of expression, our leaders risl being struck by moral inertia or paralyzed by politktCj j§ power. Major Johnson is testament that doing the rigt1 thing for the right reason and living without what tWQQ Greek philosopher Epictetus called “perturbation” is re> empowerment. His weapon was truth. k 1
In the final analysis, Major Johnson dug in his heels o,eral q a moral issue in accordance with his conscience an1 ( convictions—for love. The rest of us continue to make tlij.ni. f “sort of trouble that’s expected,” without threatening Adm power bases and remaining firmly within the confines« our comfort zones. Major Johnson is a hero, an honorabL leader with integrity, a beacon of truth in the moral fci n. of peace. He is a man for all seasons.
notice when he left his office at Quantico, Virginia, the last time. A battle has been lost, but as legislators beg'11 to arm themselves with the weapon of law—truth—th*’1lral is Major Johnson’s legacy, the war has just begun.
curity number, address, and office and home phone numbers (if available) of the essayist, along with the title of the essay and motto. The identity of the essayist will not be known of the judging members of the Editorial Board until they have made their selections.
Deadline: 1 December 1993