Yesterday Brian Lehrer, the smart host of a public radio talk show in New York, had on Scott Garrett, a Republican congressman from New Jersey, to talk about economic policy. Lehrer also made a point of bringing up an issue dear to his listeners’ concerns: gays in the military. Lehrer supports repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell. (So do I.) He quizzed Garrett intently about Garrett’s opposition to repeal. He bored in on him, as a good questioner does. Garrett said that he would vote for repeal only if it was not politically-motivated, if commanders and soldiers convinced him that the change would have "absolutely no impact whatsoever" on the daily performance of their duties.
Lehrer persisted: "And if it took some time to bring people along [in the military] who were resistant, it wouldn’t be worth it for the equality?"
Garrett said Only if it didn’t degrade the performance.
I admire Lehrer’s position here. Change involves discomfort. Equality is an important goal of all public policy. It’s why we integrated the army racially in 1948.
But Lehrer is PEP: He is Progressive Except for Palestine. (And yes, he is Jewish and yes that is relevant.) A liberal in almost all spheres, when it comes to the Middle East, he gives his mike to neocons such as Frank Gaffney. Imagine the values that Lehrer took on Garrett with brought to bear on a Democratic American Zionist in the name of what many think of as a liberal ideal: a binational polity in Israel/Palestine that treats all citizens as equal. Or even the end to Jim Crow in the West Bank.
What if it took some time to bring American Jews along who were resistant to the idea, it wouldn’t be worth it for the equality? I don’t think I will ever hear him ask that question.