Saturday, October 2, 2010
Recently as some people may have noticed, the military appropriations bill that went before the Senate was filibustered by Republicans and thus failed. This bill had attached to it, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the DREAM Act. Now admittedly, clumping these bills together without significant guarantees of success was an awful plan. Instead of forcing Senators to take a stand on two different and equally important issues, they were lumped together in such a way that the Republicans could fairly blame whichever cause seemed most beneficial to them, or even the procedure itself. I consider this a failure on Harry Reid’s part. However, the bulk of my focus and my rage has truly fallen on comments from a Senator of my home state known as “Downtown Scotty Brown”.
Scott Brown voted against the bill, and one of the many people who commented on his decision was the University of Harvard. They had separately given both the DREAM Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell their full endorsement. Scott Brown then had the audacity to attack Harvard saying their “priorities are upside down”. Harvard is an institution that has been educating our nation since 1636, and they have never made any outlandish claims about their own importance. Scott Brown has been a Senator for about a year, and he has explained on numerous occasions how he is both key vote number 41 and key vote number 60. He is already on his way to publishing his autobiography. To see the full length of his vanity, see the following video where in a speech before the Senate he explains how he’s working despite a difficult sickness because he’s just that dedicated. (Note: Huffington Post has obviously significantly edited this video to play with a comparison to Michael Jordan’s Flu Game. It’s hilarious.)
Now, let’s return to the quarrel with Harvard. For those who don’t know the reason their stance on DADT has such impact is that due to their anti-discrimination rules, ROTC is not allowed on campus. Students are still able to serve in ROTC via MIT. Scott Brown using the opportunity afforded him by the combined bill said Harvard valued amnesty for illegal immigrants over the military. These are two completely separate issues which Harvard takes a stand on for separate reasons, making the comparison completely unfair. Again, I blame Reid for enabling this whole situation. However, I will address the two issues separately to examine why both pieces of the legislation ought to have passed.
First, let’s examine the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This policy is so outdated, it barely merits debate. The part that makes this most ridiculous is our army has ALREADY served side by side with openly gay men. Remember those British forces that have helped us out and fought beside us? They don’t have any limits on who serves in their army. When they offered to help, we didn’t say, “We’ll take your straight soldiers, but send the gay ones home.” We realized that we needed help at all costs. Why should we treat American soldiers with less dignity then we have given to foreign soldiers fighting beside us? Back at Harvard they have said openly that they would consider allowing ROTC back on campus if DADT was repealed. So Senator Brown, maybe, rather than starting a petition to allow ROTC back on campus, (PS Harvard is private, and according to your own rhetoric the government shouldn’t interfere), you could consider repealing an offensive policy, which would accomplish the exact same result.
Next there is the DREAM Act, which Scott Brown characterized as, something that “welcomes students who are in this country illegally”. Nice generalization, but it’s too bad that it leaves out all of those minor details that make the bill sensible. For example, there are requirements to this “welcoming”. This bill would apply only to people who were brought into this country by the parents when they are under the age of 16. Why should children suffer for the decisions made by their parents? These children had no choice in the crime that was committed and have no choice for their future other than returning to a country that they do not know or understand. Most importantly, all we are doing is giving them a PATH to citizenship. We aren’t offering them anything for free. We are requiring that they give something back to the nation. They MUST graduate high school in order to even begin to qualify. After that they would have six years of temporary residence to complete either two years of college or two years of military service. They would serve their country wither in war or by becoming better educated, just as immigrants throughout American history have done. During this six year period if they were convicted of any drug-related crime, or any felony, their temporary residency would be revoked. In short, we would give children who had no choice in their status as an illegal immigrant the chance to become a citizen if they proved that they would be productive members of society who would give something back. I would legitimately like to know what reason (other than fear and bigotry) would there be to oppose this bill.
These two critical pieces of legislation tacked onto a military spending bill have failed. And while their packaging allowed for many excuses we still need to stand up on both of these issues and challenge those Republicans who think that they’re “part of history”, when they fight a cold, instead of fighting for equality and the American Dream.