Vets Group Blasts 'Social Deviant' Farah's Anti-Gay Column
Among the most controversial reactions to the landmark repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a recent column  at WorldNetDaily by Joseph Farah, in which he essentially urged soldiers and those interested in becoming soldiers not to serve in the U.S. Military.
"As much as I respect and admire the U.S. military as an institution, I would find myself actively encouraging men and women to leave - in droves," Farah, who oversees the well-read site, wrote in the column posted December 17 before the repeal occurred.
"If the U.S. military is going to be transformed into just another tool of twisted social engineering, rather than a force designed to defend America's national security interests, dedicated, brave and upstanding young men and women should no longer participate of their own free will," Farah added. "It's just that simple. Let the politicians cobble together a military of social deviants if they think they can."
The column drew several critical responses from those in the news business and those who follow military and gay rights issues, ranging from one who called it "irresponsible" to another describing it as "disgusting bigotry."
Mike Triplett, vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and top blogger on the group's website, blasted Farah's column.
"It is clearly, incredibly irresponsible. This is a good example of the kind of irresponsible commentary that goes on so often in the conservative press," he said. "It is unfortunate that there is so much irrational vindictive inside the conservative press and that it gets linked to by conservative bloggers and legitimate press. That is of greater concern, they are linked by more legitimate people."
Ashwin Madia, an Iraq War veteran and interim chairman of VoteVets.org, stated in an e-mail response to the column:
"It's disappointing to hear someone demand that brave American men and women stop serving their country because of his blind hatred for a particular group of people. Fortunately, those who have served in today's military - including leadership from every branch - are rightfully confident that every survey of service members is correct and this repeal will have little effect on recruitment, retention, and readiness."
He also added, "...the disgusting bigotry of Mr. Farah makes very clear who has rightfully earned the title of 'social deviant.'"
Col. Dave Lapan, a U.S. Department of Defense public affairs officer, dismissed Farah's column.
"We see editorials and opinions all the time and people are free to have opinions," Lapan said. "I would suspect that most people in the military are serving for other reasons and wouldn't listen to that type of admonition for people.
"The military is, if nothing else, a meritocracy, people advance because they are good at what they do, regardless of where they grew up or what gender they are or what racial group they grew up with."
Lapan added: "Historically, when other militaries have made this change, those who reported that the change would cause them to either leave the service or not join the service severely overestimated what actually happened in practice. Very small numbers actually followed through on that."
Jarrod Chlapowski, field and development director of Service Members United -- the largest gay and lesbian troop organization - said predictions of military problems are unfounded.
"They made much more dire predictions about white soldiers leaving the military during the integration of African-Americans in the military and it did not occur," said Chlapowski, an Army veteran who served from 2000 to 2005.
He said reactions like Farah's are not a surprise, but hardly the majority viewpoint: "We won our biggest gay rights victory yet and this is what you will see. Yes, the media should not be advocating something that is clearly wrong and incorrect, but it is an opinion column and he is entitled to it. The implementation of the repeal will be the best education in that regard, it will demonstrate that it is not an issue. We are at a point where we are not arguing for repeal, it is actually happening."