Democrats should acknowledge that at times the left's understandable anger over Vietnam degenerated into a lack of respect for the military. And they should make amends in very practical ways -- most significantly, as the Progressive Policy Institute's Will Marshall has pointed out, by shaming America's colleges and law schools into letting the military recruit on campus. Liberal students, faculty and administrators have the right to criticize the Pentagon's discriminatory policies toward gays and lesbians. But it is outrageous for them to treat the U.S. military -- especially in a time of war -- as a pariah. And Howard Dean should go to the college towns where his most stalwart supporters reside and tell them so.
Wrong, Beinart. It's time for the U.S. military -- especially in a time of war -- for the U.S. military to stop treating gay men and lesbians as pariahs. "The left" opposes a policy which prohibits Americans who want to serve in the military from doing so. That's not disrespect for the military -- it's respect for those who respect the military so much they want to be a part of it.
More fundamentally, "the military" only deserves respect to the extent it does things deserving of respect. Beinart is engaged in the old con of conflating the Bush Administration with the military. Surely Beinart isn't so ignorant that he forgot the last election, when so much of the disrespect for "the military" came from the right, as evidenced by the unceasing attacks of the wartime service of Senator Kerry, Senator Cleland and anyone else who served in the military but questioned Bush's policies and practices (such as the torture of prisoners of war). Perhaps Beinart can refer me to some of his past columns decrying that lack of respect.
But I doubt it.