Jarrod Chlapowski, the gay former Army specialist and Korean linguist, arrives in Newsweek lauding the Human Rights Campaign’s means of trying to push through a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal — an effort that’s turned up short every single year. It’s part of a well-orchestrated campaign from HRC to battle back against criticism, and it’d be beautiful were it not so transparent.
With most well-known gay blogs and independent activists calling out HRC for its gross missteps and irrelevance in federal lawmaking efforts, it was only a matter of time before HRC moved beyond Joe Solmonese’s email blasts to reassure donors it’s on the right path. And with Lt. Dan Choi abandoning HRC and teaming with GetEqual.org in the most public of rebukes, and then assailing Solmonese & Co. in — yep — Newsweek, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see someone like Chlapowski defend the group.
First, the necessary disclosures: Chlapowski, who left the Army in 2005, is HRC’s military consultant. (That’s him speaking earlier this month at HRC’s “virtual lobby day” for DADT.) Which means he acts as an official liaison for the group. And not to knock Chlapowski’s military service or efforts to repeal DADT (he helped lead the Servicemembers United’s Call To Duty Tour in 2006), but we fully expect him to make these sorts of statements countering Choi on HRC’s behalf: “[What Choi said about HRC] ignores the efforts of thousands of vets who are working hard every day to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Not all their work is quite as public as Dan’s last week, but it has a purpose and these people are just as invested as he is in repealing the law.”
He’s right. Much of HRC’s work occurs behind the scenes — so far behind the scenes that not even the White House or federal lawmakers are aware of it.
As for Choi saying HRC “betrayed him”? Chlapowski responds: “I don’t think that was fair. That was a spur-of-the moment action done by Dan. If he had approached them before the rally, then on-the-spot decisions would not have been made.”
Actually, it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment action. It was planned in advance.
(We do, however, appreciate Chlapowski giving more definitive answers than Solmonese, like about whether Choi’s stunt was helpful: “The majority of members of the defense community—vets and active-duty service members I’ve spoken with on these issues—have expressed displeasure at the use of the uniform in any activism. [Choi was wearing his uniform during the White House protest, as was former Capt. Jim Pietrangelo.] This is certainly not a tactic I would have chosen, and I’m not so sure this action was worth alienating the defense community. That said, there is room for all types of actions in this movement. And I think that, done strategically and in coordination with broader coalitions working on these issues, there is room for actions similar to what Dan and Captain Pietrangelo chose to do on the White House gates.”)
You should expect the media to eat up HRC’s story lines, including this one from Chlapowski, because HRC has trained reporters to treat them as the go-to gay rights organization. But as one connected source tells us, Chlapowski’s answers are “total bullshit,” and are just the beginning of HRC’s blitz to battle back against critics. In fact, HRC initially tried pressuring Chlapowski into signing his name to a statement that it wrote, attacking Choi, but he refused; the Newsweek piece was the compromise.
UPDATE: One HRC source tells us: “There is more coming,” and that leadership is for the moment “more concerned with” defending HRC’s reputation than anything else.