Lt. Dan Choi: The Hypocrisy behind Don’t Ask Don’t TellOctober 20, 2009
Meet Lt. Dan Choi, a Korean Southern Baptist who graduated from West Point Military Academy. He is an Iraq war veteran and one of only eight soldiers in his class to major in Arabic. In March, Choi disclosed on the Rachel Maddow Show that he was gay. He was subsequently sent a discharge letter from the Army. This letter indicated that he had “negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard.”
Choi spoke Monday evening as the keynote for “Coming Out Week” at the George Washington University. He spoke poignantly about his “multiple identities” and about his journey as an advocate for repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
Choi reflected on the first words he heard upon enrolling at West Point Military Academy: “Cadette will not lie or tolerate lies.” In understanding this code of conduct, he came to realize it had hypocritical undertones; he was obligated to lie about his sexual orientation. Choi served for nearly a decade under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
Choi emphasized the importance of the government’s effort to “prioritize equality” and that it is not acceptable to have laws that prevent people from being who they are. We began a dialogue on the various communities that are affected by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” specifically the number of women that are impacted by this law. Sexism continues to be an issue even in already unjust policies.
Choi spoke about the need to strip away our differences and come together to fight for a common goal. The time has come to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell;” there is no longer room for inequalities in the armed forces when their mission is built upon honor, truth, and integrity. In Choi’s words, “Don’t lie, don’t hide, don’t discriminate, don’t weaken the military. That is what we need to be promoting.”