The Military’s Waste of Language Skills
June 30, 2005
To the Editor:
While the ban on gays in the military may be absurd, I disagree with the view that discharging linguists from the military hampers its efforts.
From my experience as an Arabic linguist with three years of service in the Army, the management of human resources such as linguists is so poor that I believe they have a better chance of contributing to the work of national security outside the Army than in it.
Despite frequent reports of Arabic linguist shortages, in the one and a half years that I have been qualified in Arabic, I have not used my language skills once. My career field manager told me that 60 percent of linguists in the Army are in assignments similar to mine. We are assigned to tactical units, and only use our language skills if we happen to be deployed to a country where the language we know is spoken; perhaps not even then.
Arabic linguists who are discharged have the opportunity to seek work with other government agencies or government contractors who will give them a chance to use their language on a daily basis, and pay them well, too.
I wish I was so lucky.
In any cost-benefit analysis of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, it would be foolish to start by assuming that linguists who were discharged were being used in a worthwhile way and that once discharged they cease to contribute to the work of national security.
Sgt. Burton Griffith
No Piers on Pride Sunday
June 29, 2005
To the Editor:
What happened to our march/parade?
Why were the piers in the Hudson Park Trust closed to the public? Could it have been that the Trust, the police and the parks department are afraid of young, black lesbian and gay teenagers and their friends?
How could our elected out lesbian and gay officials like Christine Quinn, Tom Duane and Deborah Glick allow this to happen in their district?
What in the world were the mayor and the parks and police commissioners thinking when they deprived us of access to this space? Perhaps they want another rebellion?
The LGBT community needs some answers. Remember: Stonewall was a rebellion against oppression, not a mindless riot!
Carl Whitman, Jr.
New York City
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