Recent allegations of a rampant culture of sexual harassment and assault in the military are disheartening and disturbing. Even as more military careers are opened to women, and in the wake of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it would seem that there still remains a firmly entrenched culture of acceptance of these sorts of attacks.
It is for these reasons that recent comments from Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, are so disturbing. "President Obama is finally admitting that sexual assault is a serious problem in the military," said Perkins. "But what he hasn’t conceded is that his policy on homosexuality helped create it."
Perkins and his foundation were among the most vocal of minorities calling for maintaining the DADT policy, and Perkins this week said that the recent reports of sexual assault in the military can be tied directly to the government decision to end DADT.
At best, Perkins is an anachronistic gadfly who is shaking his cane at the recent social progressive trend in society, especially regarding LGBT rights. At worst, Perkins threatens to serve as the mouthpiece for a growing tide of reactionaries who seek to repel advances by liberal groups. Both roles are equally upsetting.
With American public support for LGBT rights at an all-time high, Perkins seems to represent (quite vociferously) a vocal minority of American citizens. There is little reason, then, to give Perkins the attention he clamors for by giving him recognition as a public intellectual or leader of a respected think tank. Certainly, Perkins and the Family Research Council may be frustrating, but the worst way to combat their influence is by emblazoning their names across cable television or other mainstream media outlets. Organizations like the FRC thrive on this sort of negative attention.
The best way to combat Perkins and the FRC (which has been named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) is by marginalizing their voices as much as possible. Though I acknowledge and condemn Perkins’ comments as disturbing and incorrect, I do not wish to give this draconian organization any more of a voice in American politics. Perkins’ message may frustrate many millennials and young people across the political spectrum, but we must do what we can to ignore such a fringe opinion.