An African American Civil Rights "foot soldier" speaks on the ending of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

To: The Task Force Action Fund From: Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell

I have received the "Action Alert! Let's end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and have chosen to respond with these words. As an ally/advocate of Gay rights I have spoken and written on the topic; "Racism and Heterosexism; Different,Yet The Same". Martin Luther King spoke eloquent truth when he said; "Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere". We waste our time making comparisons among the diversity of injustices. Of course there is no comparable equivalence between the slavery of Africans and the segregation of African Americans in the USA, when compared to the struggles of others. But, there is an equivalence between and among, prejudice, bias, bigotry and hatred against persons who are "different" that must be acknowledged.

Once African American soldiers were assigned to racially segregated units. My relatives told me of times when in the uniform of the nation they were defending, they were unable to eat in whites only restaurants, while German prisoners of war who were detained in this country, were able to be served in those same restaurants. Yet, black soldiers served their country with pride. Gay soldiers are not assigned to gay segregated units, but many of them have been discharged from the millitary when their sexual orientation has become known. The silence "back in the day" of Americans who claimed patriotism and love of the USA yet did not oppose black soldiers being segregated, and the silence of persons today who also claim patriotism and love of their country, yet do not support the ending of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", is one of the mysteries that historians of the future will describe and seek to explain.

The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in his book, The Irony of American History has a quotation that I paraphrase; "Most of the evil is not done by evil people, but by good people who do not know that (on some issues) they are not good."

It is my hope that the members of Congress and leaders in the military who are reluctant to vote for or support the ending of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", will not allow the "goodness" of their love of country and the principles on which we stand to be tarnished by an act of "non-goodness", by refusing to vote against DADT or support its demise.