We learned last week that of the 1,000 U.S. employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, only 10 have a working knowledge of Arabic. I suggested that perhaps the State Department could address the problem by reaching out to some of the dozens of well-trained Arabic linguists the Pentagon threw out of the military for being gay.
Apparently, the idea is catching on.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) urged the State Department Monday to hire homosexual military translators discharged under the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The lawmakers called the policy “absurd and highly biased” and said it “cripples our national security.”
“We are writing to urge the Department of State to take a specific step — the hiring of our unfairly dismissed, language-qualified soldiers — so our nation might salvage something positive from the lamentable results of this benighted policy,” Lantos and Ackerman wrote in a strongly worded letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
There’s nothing stopping the State Department from hiring these discharged linguists — gay people can’t openly serve in the military, but they can openly serve at State — so maybe the Lantos/Ackerman letter might help a bit.
But here’s a thought: if you’re one of the gay linguists who was humiliated and insulted by the Bush administration, how anxious would you be to take a pay cut in order to help these officials out? In effect, how can we expect these men and women to do the administration a favor after the way they’ve been treated?