Thursday, May 27, 2010

DADT & Social Psych 101

From TPM reader VJ:
Zero Tolerance
In 1960 when your dad and I were in the Army blacks had only been integrated in the services for 12 years.
Sounds like a long time, but there were members of the "old" Army -- from WW2 and the South mostly -- who had never gotten used to it. -- even after 12 years and they made it clear when no blacks were present and after a few beers.

But -- big but -- they smiled, sucked it up and never dared showed any open dislike for their black comrades. To do so meant to face serious discipline. And the blacks wouldn't put up with it anyway.

I foresee a parallel situation when DADT gets implemented. Career people won't risk it with openly hostile behavior.
There's a construct in social psychology called "attitude": what does a person believe, how does he/she rationalize this belief, and what behavior derives from this belief.
Attitudes are embedded in a social milieu. They are learned and practiced in society.
They aren't in-born.

Tons of research reveals the easiest way to change attitudes is to change behavior.
Logical, well-reasoned argument doesn't work.
Appeals to emotion, empathy, sympathy... don't work.
Get a person to change his behavior, and his beliefs and rationalizations will follow.

The Civil Rights fights of the '60s provide many excellent examples.
White folks went from "Hell, no, I won't serve niggers!" to "Of course we serve blacks!" in a fairly short time - based on legally-enforced behavioral changes.
[see, e.g., Chuck Colson: "Get 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."]

VJ's TPM comment reinforces this.

What's surprised me about repeal of DADT is how quickly the majority of my fellow citizens have come 'round to the point of view, "Who cares about someone else's sexual orientation?"
It's helped that conservative military types have started stating the obvious: Gays have been serving in America's armed forces forever! - They just couldn't be open about it!

Repeal of DADT passed Senate Armed Services Committee today.
House vote today.

... oh, yeah: just for fun: the crazy conservative religious right now spouting nonsense about Hitler's homosexuality, disease-tainted blood flowing through the military, and imminent onset of fellatio-rapes in barracks... well, these are the same folks who justified slavery and Jim Crow laws on a Biblical basis: Blacks, as sons of Ham, were destined by G-d for eternal servitude:
Hamitic is an historical term for the peoples supposedly descended from Noah's son Ham, paralleling Semitic and Japhetic.
The term Hamitic originally referred to the peoples believed to have been descended from the biblical Ham, one of the Sons of Noah. When Ham dishonors his father, Noah pronounces a curse on him, stating that the descendents of his son Canaan will be "servants of servants".

[Wikipedia, Hamitici]

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