Scott Horton Interviews Jeremy Sapienza

Scott Horton, September 28, 2010

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Jeremy Sapienza, Senior Editor at Antiwar.com, discusses the failed repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” despite the best efforts of pop stars and the contradictory manner of antiwar leftists advocating for domestic gay rights without considering the consequences for international human rights.

MP3 here. (19:40)

Jeremy Sapienza is Assistant Webmaster and Senior Editor at Antiwar.com.

40 Responses to “Jeremy Sapienza”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AngelaKeaton, Jeremy Sapienza. Jeremy Sapienza said: Me on DADT – a little disjointed but fun anyhow: http://antiwar.com/radio/2010/09/28/jeremy-sapienza-4/ [...]

  2. Thanks for making the point that's been on my mind for a while. I'see Dan Choi on Democracy Now and think what a self serving, publicity seeking jerk. What entitles you to kill people in Afghanistan Dan???

  3. Interesting interview, thanks.
    It may be a misconception to think that just because someone is gay/lesbian/bi that he/she is necessarily "progressive". I personally fail to see how someone's sexuality automatically qualifies him for being part of the "good guy" club ; but then again, this is a symptom of the American obsession with sexuality, and how it tends to define people. As if somehow being a homosexual barred you from being a fool…
    There is however a history of homosexuals being barred from openly proclaiming who they are in public life, and this has made many of them feel like outsiders, so in this sense it has made the community objects of discrimination, no doubt, and fighting for the rights of populations who are discriminated against IS traditionally a progressive value. In the same sense, fighting for gay marriage rights is more about enjoying equal rights under the law (which should be obvious) than it is about wanting to be a part of the traditional sacrosaint Judeo-Christian institution of marriage (the question would go something like, "Why do you want to be like everyone else, anyway?").
    I hope you don't get too much flac for this interview! …. crickets….

  4. Unfortunately the two main areas of our society that have been pivotal in forwarding civil rights have been sports and the military. People have exposed to someone of a different race/sexual orientation in a relatively positive format. Irish and Germans who fought in the CIvil War helped advance the reputation of their ethnicities (because our country loves a good war story). These personal experiences allowed individuals to tell bigots/sexists that they are spreading hatred and false assertions.
    I agree with you that spreading war under the guise of civil rights is wrong, but institutionalizing ill treatment and abuse of civil rights under the guise of war (nationalism/patriotism) is equally abhorrent. I would rather see the military dissolve, but if we have it, I would like to see it being used to forward the civil rights of all people and not just the landed, white gentry of the Constitutional Congress.

  5. Totally agree with Jeremy on this. I'm all for 100% equality for homosexuals (as are most Libertarians, I believe.) But these rights do not extend to becoming part of a killing machine oppressing others.

  6. I live in San Francisco, and there are a lot of gays and lesbians here. Very few are for the war; many are militantly and actively opposed, and not all of them support gays' right to the military. Jeremy is wrong to use blanket statements like "all they care about is getting what straight people have." It's a large group with a lot of differences. Lady Gaga doesn't speak for them. In fact, I think Angela has interviewed one or more gay anti-military activists on this show.

  7. Or put differently, if you prevent gays from going into the U.S. military, then you should also prevent straights from doing same. Much better soln, but ain't gonna happen.

  8. To answer directly some of the points raised in the interview.

    1. To figure out why gays want to murder foreign innocents in the 'service' of a country that hates gays, you should probably ask gays in the military rather than speculating about it and forming moral judgments with no evidence. There's this strange thing called evidence, that is too often missing.

    2. When in the long history of human beings have motivations ever been straightforward & consistent. Geez. Humans are complex and more often self-contradictory than otherwise. Grow up.

  9. Brilliant.

  10. This was a disgusting interview with two despicable bigots. I still can't believe the gutter prejudice spoken by Horton and Sapienza. All we gay people think about is fucking and we don't care about anything else. Gay people in the military is all about getting dick in the barracks and nothing about serving honorably as citizens. Bush's re-election was the fault of gay people stupidly and selfishly trying to defend their civil rights. Want to know why the anti-war movement is such a pathetic joke? One reason is that is has worthless scum like Scott Horton and Jeremy Sapienza in it.

  11. Arguing for gay rights to "serve" in the military is like arguing for equal pay for female concentration camp guards.

  12. Me99, Do you care about any monority rights other than sexual orientation? I think the point they were making is that all sectors of American society are so caught up in their own issue that they don't notice the genocide committed in their name.

  13. That was terrible. Lada Gaga comment aside.
    Get Greenwald on or someone at least a little versed in gay rights. You're out of your element and you came off sounding so, well, gross.
    Scott, you momentarily saw the light when you noticed that most people are for their selfish "thing."
    For most people (and here we seemed only to be discussing war-disliking, republican-disliking, New Yorker, activist gays who associate with Jeremy ) the WARS DON'T DIRECTLY AFFECT THEIR LIVES. So we focus on our little "thing." Suggesting they put away their selfish want to have a fair shake so's an election doesn't get swayed? Really?

    And you cannot equate gays = liberal = anti-war so you shouldn't be gay and want to serve. That's just stupid. People serve for various reasons, like you point out it's often a misplaced nationalism or poverty as the main causes.

  14. Wait what? Most gays are libertarians? I don't believe that for a second. If you'd like to back that up in any way I'd love to hear it.

  15. contradictory manner of antiwar leftists advocating for domestic gay rights without considering the consequences for international human rights.
    I suppose I could have just read this part.
    Yes, war is bad, this is an anti-war site – but you can't shoehorn the fight for gay civil-rights into an argument that doing so causes the US Empire to murder that many more innocents and maybe the gays should think of THAT before wishing for equality. It doesn't follow and you look silly for following that line.

  16. I didn't say most gays were libertarians. I said most libertarians support equal treatment for gays. Sorry if I was unclear.

  17. Exactly! Gays shouldn't be allowed in the military, and neither should straights (or bi's).

  18. My bad, I got dyslexic reading your comment. "as are most" not "as most are" which makes much more sense.

  19. Excellent interview and greats points by Sapienza. It's a shame that many straight libertarians (who are staunchly anti-war 99.9% of the time) seem afraid to raise these types of questions, ostensibly for fear of being deemed "homophobic".

  20. Great interview. Horton + Sapienzia is a crescendo of the righteous inignation of lacerated hearts.

  21. First let me say this: if the draft were still in force and I were eligible – at the induction hearing, Little Richard would look like General Patton, next me.

    Second, at the outset Scott does thank Jeremy for appearing on "short notice"; so one could assume that "prepping" for the interview consisted of little more than mutually determining an issue to discuss. Hence, rather than an analytical discussion, what followed was more "confessional" in nature … and it seems that Jeremy has "issues" with at least some of "the people in his neighborhood" … inside his NYC bubble.

    Normally I'd expect Scott to ask tough questions of a guest spewing thinly-veiled prejudice. What followed, was not par for this program.

    Are some gays single-issue voters/activists? Were some gays motivated (especially in the wake of 9-11) to serve the country they love, albeit blindly? Are some gays trapped by the "economic draft"? Do some gays have friends and family serving … which has altered their response to the war? Are some gays simply not paying attention to any of this?

    Check your answers: would they apply just as well to "some" heterosexuals or bisexuals? The point being, one's sexuality directly impacts sexual activity … and that's about all. The "right" to serve in the military is merely a part of a group's demand to be granted all the "rights" of a fully-participating citizen of the nation. Whether you agree with their choices regarding their exercise of citizenship, should have nothing to do with their sexuality.

    Last summer I had caught a cab in downtown Chicago, heading for a concert at the Vic Theater. The route took us through the heart of the city's Pride Celebration. I was talking to the cab driver about the fate of his family and friends still living in Somalia; but at one point, surrounded by revelers in all manner of attire – from sweatshirts to "full flame" – the driver asked if America encourages homosexuality?

    I answered the best I could, and in turn, asked about the treatment of gays in Somalia … to which he claimed, 'there are not gays in Somalia'. I tried not to laugh at the thought that human behavior stops and starts along borderlines. I posed a hypothetical: suppose a gay couple were discovered living in Somalia … what would the reaction be? Without a moments hesitation he flatly replied: "we would kill them."

    Now THAT'S 'don't ask, don't tell' … and it also demonstrates why this particular minority group is still fighting (perhaps myopically) to be granted all the rights accorded to human beings.

  22. 1/2 *I've had to split my comment in two.

    Scott Horton, this interview on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" really stank.

    I listen to all your interviews via podcast (I'm in Australia) and while I don't necessarily agree with libertarianism I see the broad intention (small government = limited opportunity for state corruption) as principled and legitimate. I agree with you entirely on the US' vastly destructive activities in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    To the awful Sapienza interview. The idea that equal rights should only be granted if you agree with what will be done with those rights is repugnant. Sapienza and yourself are basically arguing that gays should be discriminated against because you disagree with the US wars in the MIddle East. This is unsupportable. Your argument needs to be principled, not opportunistic. To apply this logic consistently you would also have to agree with anyone who proposed banning blacks, asians, latinos, women etc. from the military, on the basis that you disagree with the wars. You're collapsing two issues (discrimination in the armed forces & US foreign policy) into one. Don't. They're different issues. The spirit behind the famous quote (often attributed wrongly to Voltaire) on freedom of speech is the best way to think about DADT: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Whether you approve or not of the activities of the US armed forces, them discriminating against gays is wrong.

    Despite Jeremy Sapienza's statement about living in a [presumably cosmopolitan] cultural bubble in NY, he gives an awfully good impression of being homophobic, at least towards those advocating the repeal of DADT. He inserts a few caveats that are more reasonable, but then continues complaining about "the gays", saying remarkably stupid things like:
    • "they don't know much about US foreign policy"
    • they only hate DADT because the GOP oppose the repeal and it "hurts their little feelings"
    • that gays are "selfish", "ignorant", "juvenile", "bratty", "illegitimate", "unintelligent" for wanting equal rights (can you imagine someone levelling those same accusations at Martin Luther King during the civil rights struggles in the 50s/60s?)
    • that gay people "hate most of the people in America"
    • that gays are too stupid to know what happens in the military ("do you know what happens in the military, do you know what you're asked to do, do you care?") despite 13,000 being discharged since DADT was introduced in 1993.

  23. 2/2

    Sorry to burst Sapienza's bubble but the gay community is much larger, and more diverse than what he's seen on Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (the archetypal representations of Sapienza's "urban gays"). I wouldn't generalise about African Americans because I've seen Cops, or Texans because I've seen Dallas. Similarly, it's wrong to make generalisations about the gay community (and advocate anti-gay discrimination) because he feels hostility towards what he terms "urban gays". To borrow your phrase Scott, "feminine" gays are one part of the community (I would call it "camp" and it's a combination of adopted attitude and people just being themselves), and often the most visible part. On account of being so visible, camp gays (and butch lesbians) are often the first target of homophobic discrimination and violence, and are often the most politically active advocating for gay rights, especially in the early years of the gay liberation movement during the 70s and 80s. It was and is a matter of self-defence, and they're the pioneers that have done the hard work for those of us (such as myself, or the guy or gal you sat next to on the bus today) that are not obviously gay to you, because they don't fit the stereotypical ideas about "the gays". So expand your views a little, and realise gays come in all shapes and sizes, including those stupid enough to want to go and serve in the US armed forces.
    A few points of interest:
    • Bradley Manning was mentioned. There's some fairly solid speculation Manning is gay, Adrian Lamo also (proving my point that gays are equally entitled to stupidity). There may be a connection between Manning's experience here and the decision to leak to wikileaks. Speaking personally, being gay – and aware of discrimination – has given me a heightened sense of social justice and a willingness to consider the position of the underdog. For example, many in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community – those people Sapienza described as selfish and "one issue" – are taking active and principled positions on Israel/Palestine.
    • On the issue of repealing DADT and morale. Most soldiers don't have a problem with gays serving in the military. Sapienza is talking out his behind to say morale will be destroyed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_ask,_don&…
    • Ron Paul supported the repeal of DADT (links in the 2nd paragraph): http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald
    I deliberately chose to link to a Glenn Greenwald article since Greenwald is a regular guest on antiwar radio, is gay, advocates for the repeal of DADT – and many other good things, demonstrating again how dumb Sapienza's statement are that "the gays" are only interested in gay things. I agree with another commenter, perhaps you could interview him also.
    Scott, you really owe it to your audience to look at this issue again, whether it be via new interviews with Ron Paul, Greenwald, or one of those 13,000 discharged under DADT.

  24. "Stop mentioning the legitimate organization Hezbollah in relation with the rag tag bunch of murderous terrorist goons in Al Qaida. They are worlds apart, and nothing like each other "

    So if some feminists were arguing that female concentration camp guards who were herding just as many victims into the ovens as their male counterparts should get equal pay, you'd sign their petition?

  25. Sorry, that was supposed to be a response to Aaron;s anodine:

    "The idea that equal rights should only be granted if you agree with what will be done with those rights is repugnant. Sapienza and yourself are basically arguing that gays should be discriminated against because you disagree with the US wars in the MIddle East. This is unsupportable. Your argument needs to be principled, not opportunistic."

    Again: So if some feminists were arguing that female concentration camp guards who were herding just as many victims into the ovens as their male counterparts should get equal pay, you'd sign their petition?

  26. "So if some feminists were arguing that female concentration camp guards who were herding just as many victims into the ovens as their male counterparts should get equal pay, you'd sign their petition?"

    Hardtruth ~ You're doing the same thing as Scott Horton and Sapienza in the interview: collapsing two issues into one, in this case using a fairly outlandish example (has any feminist anywhere ever started such a petition? I sincerely doubt it.)

    I support equal pay for equal work by men and women, as a principle, and that includes in the military. I do not support nazi or nazi-style concentration camps (you mention ovens so I presume you had the nazi camps in mind). Genocide is a war crime and a crime against humanity, therefore I would offer no support in any way shape or form to anybody involved in such acts.

    A more interesting (and relevant) example is if you'd asked me about equal pay for female soldiers at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. Those facilities are part of the US military, and the equal work/equal pay principle holds. I would happily sign a general petition arguing for equal pay in the military. If you asked me about a petition specifically for AG or GB, I would not sign since we know those facilities have been responsible for torture and extended administrative detention (detention without charge or trial).

    To return to the failed DADT repeal, you might argue that me not signing particular petitions is the same as Horton/Sapienza endorsing discrimination against gays serving in the military. I don't agree. Those campaigning for the repeal of DADT are not doing so on a platform of "I want to be able to commit war crimes just like the straights". They're opposed to general discrimination in the military based on sexuality, and there's no sensible or moral argument that can be made against that. Discrimination is wrong. The conduct of the military, and US foreign policy are separate issues altogether.

    If Horton/Sapienza are opposed to the existence of the military altogether, then make that argument. Don't endorse discrimination opportunistically because it will slightly reduce the size of the military.

  27. "If you asked me about a petition specifically for AG or GB, I would not sign since we know those facilities have been responsible for torture and extended administrative detention (detention without charge or trial). "

    Hmmm, looks to me like you think that equal rights should only be granted if you agree with what will be done.

  28. Talking about "equal rights" misses the point. There is no "right" to be in the military, any more than there's a "right" to work as a hitman for the Mafia.

  29. Considering that Sapienza is openly gay, I doubt that he gets his information about other gays from "Will & Grace" or any other TV show.

  30. The notion of a "war crime" is redundant. War is, by its very nature, a crime against humanity. If you really listen to Scott as much as you claim, I'd think you would have learned that by now.

  31. People have a right to go about their business and not be discriminated against because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc.

    This is pretty basic stuff langa.

  32. If that's the case Sapienza seems to have some pretty bad internalised homophobia.

    I can understand if he doesn't identify with the part of the community he calls "urban gays" – many don't, including myself – but going of tirades against them and endorsing discrimination against *all* gays is not even vaguely sensible. Reading the other comments, I'm not the only listener who thought he sounded like a bigot.

  33. "Hmmm, looks to me like you think that equal rights should only be granted if you agree with what will be done."

    No.

    You have not understood my point hardtruth. I did not say that, I'll clarify.

    In your wholly unrealistic feminists-advocating-equal-pay-in-the-nazi-death-camps scenario, the female nazis do have the right to receive equal pay as the male nazis. In that scenario there are two wrongs occurring of vastly different proportion:
    1. genocide
    2. gender-based pay discrimination

    You asked me if I would sign a petition and I said no, because my first priority would be to end the genocide. The female nazis DO have the right to equal pay, I'm just not going to do anything about it – and that includes supporting those opposed to equal pay for women. The same principle goes for the GB and AG scenario. The females working there DO deserve equal pay, but given the much larger crimes occurring securing better pay for them would be a low priority for me.

    Why not look at a more mundane example? There are US bases all over the world, many in countries that are staunch allies of the US – they aren't directly involved with combat operations. Is it reasonable for a female soldier stationed at a US base in Britain to demand equal pay for equal work? I say yes, and I would sign a petition advocating for this. That doesn't mean I approve of everything the US army does. I most definitely DO NOT. I'm just not going to attack women, or gays, or blacks, asians etc. (advocating they be discriminated against is an attack as I see it) because I'm pissed with US foreign policy.

  34. "Genocide is a war crime and a crime against humanity, therefore I would offer no support in any way shape or form to anybody involved in such acts. "

    So are aggressive wars, dimbulb..

    You changed the example evil from gas ovens to Abu Grahib so lets stick with that ( although with regard to mechanised slaughtr of innocents the US military's drone warfare is not so different morally from death camps).

    You wouldn't "prioritise" an equal pay claim for Lyndi England and similar female torture scum, assuming for the sake of argument that the military was gender descriiminating, because you disaaprove of torture. Now I know that the AG prosectutions were limited to Privates Scapegoat, Buckstip, and Badapple but we know now that the orders cam from the top. AG is not an aberration of US Military conduct. It is symptomatic of what the US military is and what it does. You canlt isolate AG and say, "I won't support rights to torture Iraquis in these site but I do support rights to serve in the military." The US military is one big disgusting warcrimianl immoral whole and arguing for anybody's "rights" to partake in and support its disgusting endevours is obsence.

    "I'm just not going to attack women, or gays, or blacks, asians etc. "

    ROFL. You are arguing precisely for the rights of gays to do exactly that in an entirely literal sense,

  35. "Like it or not armed forces act effectively as a deterrent against those nations intent on expanding their territory/power. "

    I see. And which nation is "intent on expaning their terrioty/power" into the US, exactly?

  36. So, do you think the Mafia should be criticized for not hiring more gay hitmen, or is it possible that people should just confine their criticism to the idea of hiring hitmen in the first place?

    Personally, I would say the latter, but maybe that's because I don't understand "basic stuff", right? After all, since I think that murder is worse than discrimination, I must obviously be some kind of bigot.

  37. Ahhh, the classic "Uncle Tom" argument. If straight people disagree with you, it's because of "homophobia". If gay people disagree with you, it's because of "self-loathing". It's never because your position is flawed.

    By the way, Sapienza never endorses "discrimination" against gays. Rather, he argues that those who are fixated on the issue of gays in the military have some seriously screwed up priorities. This distinction is made very clearly, and perhaps you would have heard it if you weren't so busy listening for something you could label as "homophobia".

  38. Yes, I'm sure you're right. Clearly, gays want to join the U.S. military, which has bases in 170 countries and is currently fighting 3(!) wars of aggression, because they just want to defend their "native soil". Obviously.

  39. [...] Kramer pointed me to this podcast from antiwar.com awhile back, in which the host Scott Horton and Jeremy Sapienza, an editor at [...]

  40. [...] Kramer pointed me to this podcast from antiwar.com awhile back, in which the host Scott Horton and Jeremy Sapienza, an editor at [...]

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