The Enemy Within
On Saturday, a British newspaper released an Associated Press photograph of an armaments specialist securing a bomb to an American attack aircraft. As is routine on much ordinance dropped on enemies, there was a message scrawled on the bomb, one which a soldier intended to deliver to the Taliban. The message was this:
“HIJACK THIS FAGS”
I thought I had figured out who my enemies are in this war. What I did not expect was to see them pledging allegiance to the same flag as I.
Instead, I find myself fighting my “own” people. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits me from giving blood to victims of terrorism and wounded troops because I have had “sexual contact, even once, with another man since 1977,” even though a physician has told me I have no diseases. The military bans me from joining it. Even if I never told anyone in the military that I like men, the fact that I once have “demonstrated a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct” precludes me from enlisting. An alumnus who founded a group called “Advocates of Harvard ROTC” is pushing for ROTC to re-commence its use of Harvard facilities, despite the fact that it is required by Congress to violate Harvard’s non-discrimination policy. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have blamed “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle” for the Sept. 11 attack, stating that they have made God angry. The list goes on.
The list which has received so little attention is that of gay and lesbian heroes and victims in this tragedy (I will ignore, for purposes of this discussion, the gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers I know personally who are deployed right now). Mark Bingham, a rugby player and public relations worker, helped to wrestle control of Flight 93 in order to prevent it from crashing into the White House or the Capitol. David Charlebois was co-pilot of Flight 77, the plane which crashed into the Pentagon. Incidentally, it is possible that Charlebois’ partner of 14 years never will see a cent of the federal tax breaks set aside for the (opposite-sex) spouses of terrorism victims. Ronald Gamboa, Dan Brandhorst and their adopted two-year-old son David all were killed aboard Flight 175, several days before visiting family in Kentucky. And finally, the Reverend Mychal Judge, chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was killed while aiding victims and rescue workers at the World Trade Center. These are just a few names.
When I say that I must re-evaluate who my enemies are, I do not mean that the U.S. is my enemy. Quite the opposite is true. I support military action against terrorism and I want to do everything I can to aid others in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, all other things being equal, I would be the biggest fan of ROTC’s return to campus, I would donate blood and, if called upon, I would serve in the military. I am glad I am American. What I continue to question is whether the biggest threat comes to me from enemies without or within my own country.
The anti-gay scribbling on the bomb reminds me that I am in the position of having to consider who is a worse enemy. Is it he who hijacks planes out of hate for me? Or he who commits himself to ridding the nation and the world of “fags” in the name of the United States? One man hijacks planes. The other hijacks my flag.
Clifford S. Davidson ’02, a government concentrator in Kirkland House, is a co-chair of BOND. This article does not necessarily reflect BOND’s official position.