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In DADT Report Writer's Family History, Shades Of Today

Jehjohnson Big names like Sen. John McCain, Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates dominated Don't Ask, Don't Tell news stories last week, leaving one important man largely in the shadows, Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel and co-writer of the Pentagon's pivotal repeal report.

Reporter Elisabeth Bumiller recently sat down with Johnson, and in today's New York Times offers some familial background to the lawyer's current work.

That background, peppered with racial discrimination in the military, helps illuminate how a DADT repeal would work today.

In addition to touching on Johnson's work as Air Force counsel under the Clinton Administration, and the fact that he was the first black partner at his former law firm, Bumiller reveals that Johnson's grandfather was a Tuskegee Airman -- African-American pilots who flew in World War II --  imprisoned for ten days after participating in the Freeman Field Mutiny, a 1945 protest in which black airmen tried to cross the racial lines at a whites-only officers' club. President Truman integrated the troops three years later, in 1948.

While Johnson makes clear that anti-gay and racist discrimination are different, with race being far more obvious and therefore a "self-identifier," he does tell Bumiller that there are many parallels between an armed force segregated by color and one segregated by sexuality, particularly with regard to our military's collective ability to conform.


The study Mr. Johnson wrote with Gen. Carter F. Ham found that, over all, 70 percent of the troops surveyed said the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would have little effect, but about 60 percent of Marines predicted a negative impact.

The opposition to integrating the armed forces in the 1940s, Mr. Johnson said, was as high as 80 percent. “The lesson to be drawn from that,” he said, “is that very often the predictions about what is going to happen overestimate the negative consequences and underestimate the military’s ability to adapt.”



All of the Service officials called before Congress this week said just the same: our men and women in uniform are more than capable of acclimating to a DADT repeal. As Mullen said, quoting a Marine officer, "If [repeal is] what the president orders, I can tell you by God we’re going to excel above and beyond the other services to make it happen.'"

Our nation has undergone some terribly divisive culture wars in the past, and we continue to face fresh struggles, yet we've always adapted to new situations and scenarios. The military, thought to be our bravest and brightest, broke racial ranks before most of the American public, helping lead the way toward a more integrated nation.

By voting against our soldiers', sailors' and airmen's abilities to accommodate change, repeal opponents are essentially voting against the American people's own cultural dexterity. If only certain senators would see the connection and realize that they have to look toward the past to map America's future.

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Comments

  1. I think editorial in this snippet is being generous as to how this man places gays into his worldview. Just because my skin isn't the shade of rainbow doesn't mean I don't "self-identify" as gay. This "my bigots are worse than your bigots" tit for tat is stupid. The press is trying to make this guy out to be a hero that I doubt he actually is.

    Posted by: Tom | Dec 5, 2010 12:33:00 PM


  2. If the press were trying to make this guy a hero, they would have left out the "self-identifier" remark altogether. The writer does not present that remark in a positive way. The story doesn't even say that he approves of gays one way or another, just that he wants the military to get a chance to end DADT on its own terms rather than being forced to by the courts. Harry Truman DOES come off as a hero, and Obama looks diminished in comparison.

    Posted by: BrianM | Dec 5, 2010 2:08:08 PM


  3. "Top 10 Things to Include in a Family History Report
    When you begin to list family history for the benefit of future generations and those living you will need to list certain items. Once you have your list completed you can fill in the details and facts that make it fun, factual and ready for further history as it unfolds with the family tree.

    1. First you need to record a history overview where the family line started and how they arrived to where they are today. This is important so each member can understand how their lives have been influenced by the past decision of their ancestors. It's important to know if family history started in the country of origin or if they migrated from another country and the reason. Include jobs, moves, traditions and events that shaped the reason for where you are today.

    2. Next list names, dates of birth, name and date of marriage, children the marriage produced and the dates of their births. This is your focus place to start filling out the family tree. Follow each with names, date of births, children produced for each sibling and generation. List original ethnic background and how it affected decision"

    Posted by: seo service | Oct 14, 2011 10:43:41 PM


  4. While Johnson makes clear that anti-gay and racist discrimination are different, with race being far more obvious and therefore a "self-identifier," he does tell Bumiller that there are many parallels between an armed force segregated by color and one segregated by sexuality, particularly with regard to our military's collective ability to conform.

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