So, some members of the audience at last night’s Republican presidential debate booed after a gay soldier asked the GOP candidates whether they would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t condone booing of anyone for any reason. I think it’s loutish and shouldn’t be done. But what happened last night is not in any way indicative of the debate audience’s alleged “disrespect for soldiers”; in fact, quite the opposite.
As debate attendee Sarah Rumpf reported live from the scene of the incident, “only one or two people” booed, and “the booing got an immediate and angry reaction from nearly everyone sitting around him.”
“Shhh! No! Shut up you idiot,” the audience members hissed.
In any case, the people who were booing weren’t booing the soldier per se; they were booing his question: “Do you intend to circumvent the progress we’ve made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”
The audience members who booed the soldier’s question were wrong to have done so, but let’s have a little perspective. Let’s not pretend that soldiers are fragile beings who must be treated with kid gloves.
Surely this soldier has seen and encountered worse than a few boos. Given the world that we live in, surely he’s been deployed and seen combat. And, even if he hasn’t, surely he has been trained and prepared for combat.
Nor was the soldier visibly disabled or injured — unlike, say, the wheelchair-bound soldier who was booed at Columbia University for speaking out on behalf of ROTC. So it’s not as if the louts were picking on an infirm or injured soldier, which would have been much more objectionable.
American politics is a tough sport: It ain’t for the faint of heart; that’s for sure. Our soldiers are, for the most part, physically and mentally tough. They are not victims and they should not be treated as such.
The reality is that anyone who asked that question would have been booed by these louts. The fact that the questioner was a soldier didn’t matter to them — and it shouldn’t have. He was and is fair game.
John R. Guardiano, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter @JohnRGuardiano.