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Nukes are so Gay...
According to a recent Fox News Poll, here is a list of issues that registered voters are “extremely” or “very concerned” about:
Inflation / Higher Prices: 90%
Future of the Country: 88%
Higher Crime Rates: 81%
Ensuring LGBTQ+ People are Appropriately Represented in US Nuclear Arsenal Decisions: 273%
Political Divisions: 79%
Debt Ceiling Debate: 75%
Opioid Addiction: 73%
Iran Getting Nukes: 71%
You caught me…I made up the one about political divisions. No one gives a shit about that.
Ok, fine, Inspector Cluseau. It’s the one about LGBTQ)%+@ people managing our nuclear arsenal. You, bigot, may not care about it, but the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences sure does.
I want to thank authors Louis Reitmann and Sneha Nair for their article on Queering nuclear weapons for bringing this matter of urgent national, nay, global, nay universal importance to the fore. Let us review.
The authors start by describing the fascist-like response to a December 2022 panel discussion on LGBTQ+ Identity in the Nuclear Weapons Space at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. I’ll bet you can guess the responses that got their panties all into a bunch…
Most of these tweets were purely hateful, written by trolls. But some respondents explained their opposition, saying that talk about queerness was inserting a non-issue and “derailing” discussions of nuclear weapons. All showed a keen determination to misunderstand the purpose of the event.
Let’s assess who needs to be sent to the wrongthink gulag. Here is the original tweet:
170 Likes? Whoa, whoa, whoa…with engagement like that, we must tear those Twitter fanatics away from their keyboards ASAP. Who knows how many tens of people they might be able to convince this idea is ludicrous?
How about those hateful responses-
Not the clown face gif! Oh, the humanity…
Anti-semites enter the chat…
We need a referendum on this…
Moving on from those genocidal tweets:
While the event received an outpouring of vocal and wide-reaching support from some of the best-known figures in the nuclear field, the disparaging tweets illustrated the common belief that queer identity has no relevance for nuclear policy, and that examining the relationship between queerness and nuclear policy is intended to push a social agenda rather than to address substantive issues.
Nooooooooooo. Who could possibly believe “examining the relationship between queerness and nuclear policy is intended to push a social agenda?” Nazi’s. That’s who.
To prevent your indoctrination into the Nazi Youth, let Reitmann and Nair explain how “[d]iscrimination against queer people can undermine nuclear security and increase nuclear risk. And queer theory can help change how nuclear practitioners, experts, and the public think about nuclear weapons.”
I do love the idea laundering exercise that inevitably accompanies all these think pieces:
Studies in psychology and behavioral science show that diverse teams examine assumptions and evidence more carefully, make fewer errors, discuss issues more constructively, and better exchange new ideas and knowledge.
Just carpet bomb us with the “we must have diversity” mantra, so, without further thought or explanation, all diversity must be accepted as a truism. Galaxy brain stuff here, as always.
Informed by their life experiences, queer people have specific skills to offer that are valuable in a policy and diplomacy context. LGBTQ+ people often must navigate being different from those around them; develop the ability to listen and empathize; and mobilize the skill and perseverance to make themselves heard.
Whose life experiences do you trust more to manage your nuclear policy properly? Steve, who likes to pound away on his wife missionary style? Or Starlight, who blocks off every Wednesday night to go to the Grindhouse BDSM club? Think about it.
And we all know that the modern-day LGBT+ movement is nothing if not willing to listen and empathize.
Diversity and inclusion are especially important for the policy community dealing with arsenal development and nuclear posture. Women familiar with this “nuclear priesthood” describe it as “male-dominated and unwelcoming.” Homogenous groups like this are prone to groupthink and hostile to critical examination of baseline assumptions about how adversaries construct and identify nuclear threats and risks. [emphasis added]
Yes, the penis-ed vs. non-penis-ed (is that what we’re doing nowadays?)… the only difference between humans. Because LeBron James and I are both penis-ed (making an assumption here), we are precisely the same in every other conceivable way.
Far be it for me to step on the author’s expertise, but what if all the LBGT+ people who get into the nuclear field are of the penis-ed variety? Wouldn’t that just further perpetuate the groupthink you deride? Hmmmmmm
Such workplace cultures also create enormous psychological stress for minority staff, including queer people, who spend lots of time and energy adapting to role expectations, rather than focusing on bringing their full, authentic potential to the policy-making process.
Who could have imagined that psychological stress world would be part of the job of people managing the largest nuclear arsenal in the world? They may want to think about adding that into the Indeed job description.
Richard Johnson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy, recounts feeling inhibited to speak up and contribute in a workplace culture dominated by traditional masculinity that treated homosexuality as a risk factor.
It is true that at one point in history, being gay was considered a security risk because of the chances of blackmail by foreign governments. I wonder if we’ll ever get over that stigma. I guess only time will tell…
Even where laws protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual identity exist, security practitioners can decide whether a queer person is suitable for a job, on the basis of whether or not an individual is fully “out” and the risks hiring managers believe this poses for the national or nuclear security enterprise. [emphasis added]
Here I am, the cis-heteronormative guy, thinking that being “in the closet” was a binary, but apparently, there’s another binary out the window.
I would love to sit in on one of the “security practitioners” assessments for grading a person’s level of out-ness. In my mind, it would go something like this:
Bob: Let’s review the file of Sparkle Jones. Do you have any concerns about they’s security risk?
Carl: In my professional assessment, Sparkle is not fully out and thus poses a potential security risk.
Bob: I mean, they’s name is Sparkle. What else do you need?
Carl: When I asked Sparkle if they had ever worn ass-less chaps on a float in a pride parade while being flogged with a leather paddle, they said, “the paddle was wooden.” It’s well known among us professional security practitioners that wooden paddles are far less queer than leather paddles. Therefore, I question they’s out-ness.
Bob: GOOD GOD! [picks up his phone to call his secretary]. Sexy Betty, please bring in all our medals so I can pin them on Carl immediately. He’s just saved us from a nuclear holocaust! And Betty, make sure you’re wearing that too-short mini-skirt with no panties, please. Thank you.
Including a wider range of perspectives in nuclear decision making creates a more comprehensive definition of who or what constitutes a “threat” to nuclear security.
You might think that it’s nothing short of a miracle that the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people didn’t lead to a nuclear exchange between the US and USSR during the cold war. I can explain how by a little-known fact I picked up from a reliable source.
There was a box on the wall of the Pentagon that said, “Break in Case of Nuclear Emergency,” when tensions ran particularly high. When that box was smashed, a parade of LBGTQ+ people emerged from what I can only assume was some fabulous place within the Pentagon, took the controls of the security state, and righted the precarious situation, only to saunter back to that bunker afterward and wait for the next stand-off, the cis people couldn’t fix themselves.
An example of this is the threat posed by some white supremacist groups with plans to acquire nuclear weapons or material, which can go undetected when a white-majority workforce does not perceive these groups and their ideological motivation as a relevant threat to their nuclear security mission.
Ah, yes, the age-old “white supremacists with nukes” dilemma. Clearly, the biggest threat to our nuclear arsenal is Jim-Bob from rural Arkansas, who, in between breakfast at Waffle House and lunch at Bojangles, is working on hacking his way into US atomic facilities.
In fact, if you zoom in on the alleged Chinese spy balloon that was recently flying over our nuclear sites in Montana, I think you’ll discover something far more disturbing.
Queer identity is also relevant for the nuclear field because it informs theories that aim to change how officials, experts, and the public think about nuclear weapons.
Holy shit…are they going to do the meme?
Queer theory is a field of study, closely related to feminist theory, that examines sex- and gender-based norms. It shines a light on the harm done by nuclear weapons through uranium mining, nuclear tests, and the tax money spent on nuclear weapons ($60 billion annually in the United States) instead of on education, infrastructure, and welfare. The queer lens prioritizes the rights and well-being of people over the abstract idea of national security, and it challenges the mainstream understanding of nuclear weapons—questioning whether they truly deter nuclear war, stabilize geopolitics, and reduce the likelihood of conventional war
Suppose the worst aspects of nukes that queer theorists can come up with are “uranium mining, nuclear tests, and the tax money spent on nuclear weapons.” In that case, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job of managing the nuke situation without them involved.
Oh wait, there is one more aspect to the nuclear arsenal horror that must be addressed:
Queer theory also identifies how the nuclear weapons discourse is gendered: Nuclear deterrence is associated with “rationality” and “security,” while disarmament and justice for nuclear weapon victims are coded as “emotion” and a lack of understanding of the “real” mechanics of security.
Are these dopes conceding that the concept of rationality and what is “real” are male concepts? In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “I do not think it means, what you think it means.”
Indeed, queer theory helps us not only see the bad of a world with nuclear weapons, but also imagine the good of a world without them. It envisions using the resources freed up by nuclear disarmament to build structures that tangibly increase people’s safety and well-being through healthcare, social housing, etc.
And now for our musical interlude. Take it away, John:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
And we’re back. Who knew the only thing we needed to guide our nuclear policy was the lyrics from the most tedious songs ever written?
The authors conclude-
The time to do better is now. As the nuclear field continues to reflect on its legacy of exclusion and homogeneity during this Pride Month, we as stakeholders, decision makers, and advocates for change should also realize our privilege of being able to openly discuss the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community without fear of criminalization, retribution, or death. Participating as oneself in the nuclear field is a right that should be extended to all…
…Decision makers should look to LGBTQ+ inclusion for better nuclear policy outcomes, and build environments in which queer people can bring their specific skills and lived experiences to bear without fear. Arguments to the contrary are as stagnant and outdated as those who voice them.
Where precisely in the Western world is being LGBTQ+ open you to “fear of criminalization, retribution, or death?” Try taking your show on the road to Tehran, and let me know if your perspective changes.
I don’t know about you, but I feel much more secure with big brains like Louis Reitmann and Sneha Nair with their hands on the global nuclear steering wheel.
On a totally unrelated note, maybe I will sign-up for Elon’s trip to Mars…