Thought of the Day: Owen West

0621_ied_west” Maintaining “don’t ask, don’t tell” ignores a vast social shift since 1993. Only 26 percent of Americans supported Truman’s order, so it was little wonder that desegregation stalled. When President Clinton announced his initiative, 44 percent of Americans were in favor of homosexuals serving openly, which perhaps explains the split decision of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

But today nearly 80 percent of Americans feel that way. As our troops tend to reflect the values of our society, lifting the homosexual ban will be easier now.

In addition, six years of war have clarified priorities. The battlefield has its own values, starting with courage. Sexual orientation falls somewhere below musical taste. What a person chooses to do back stateside, off-duty, in his own apartment is irrelevant in a fight. For months I lived with 12 other American advisers on an Iraqi outpost. There was a single pipe shower next to a hole that masqueraded as a sewer. But the reality of combat dominated personality quirks — nobody wondered about sexual orientation. ” — Owen West, a commodities trader, who served two tours in Iraq with the Marines on why Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell has to go.