- File Size: 403 KB
- Print Length: 108 pages
- Publisher: The Huffington Post Media Group (September 15, 2011)
- Publication Date: September 20, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005NDLMVK
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,289,742 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #844 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Public Policy
- #1049 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Americas > United States > 21st Century
- #21067 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy
How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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Students read the text thoroughly and were very enthusiastic about all that they learned through reading the text. The enthusiasm was a result of the book's accessibility, clarity of style, and many concrete examples. Students were amazed at author Aaron Belkin's own personal efforts, yet they seemed to feel that these were strategies that would primarily be engaged by an elite economic class of people. Belkin appears as an individual with tremendous social capital and privilege within his social location. The Palm Center has access to media, government, and the academy that most people do not have. This was not a criticism of the program, but caused these students to wonder if they would ever be in a position to mobilize these kinds of resources, and how excluded or distant the low-income gay person/community might feel from such a reality. The class came to realize, however, that those resources and connections were likely developed over a period of time, also the hard work of social change.
We combined reading How We Won with watching segments of documentary How To Survive a Plague (on Democracy Now!). We compared and contrasted some of the tactics within the broader GLBTQ movement. Both Belkin and the movie-makers discussed the inside-outside perspective on social change. This approach was great for students to consider multiple perspectives about working inside and outside institutions, with an openness to a diversity of tactics. I appreciated that at many points in the book the author mentioned and affirmed that there were many other active groups and different tactics being employed which were critical to the success of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal efforts. This helped students to see that diverse approaches within the same social change movements do not necessarily have to be antagonistic (though they often are).
Students struggled with whether or not it is really true that people in general and "the public" will change their minds when they are presented repetitively with the truth, which is part of the Belkin's argument. The author notes that a single issue and clear focus allowed for the success of the campaign, but also recognized that many issues are not like that. Students felt that no issue they could think of or were committed to personally (anti-incarceration, immigration, pro-choice, the environment and climate change, etc.) provided this kind of clarity. Nonetheless, they learned that clarity in framing and communicating one's message is incredibly important, and something they should analyze and attempt in relation to any given dimension of their work. Being at a graduate-level school of theology, our students are engaged at some level in moral discourse in relation to their passionate social issues. Belkin mentioned that religious-moral discourse, particularly in relation to sexual orientation, can be a detriment to dialogue; or a complication at the very least to advancing causes because of the intractability of hardened moral positioning. This was important information for reflection.
At our progressive seminary, we often discuss the nature of oppression and whether our social change commitments are primarily reformist or if they address deeper structures and mechanisms of injustice. From this perspective, students questioned how important the DADT repeal success is in actually dismantling homophobia. They asked the same question of the gay marriage movement. They had no answers for these questions, but were hopeful that increasingly out persons in relationships to straight people will transform homophobia, and that the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will hopefully be one small piece of engendering these open relationships among people in their authentic being in the military context.
All of us also admired the author's willingness to identify and admit to the re-inscription of militarism through the repeal campaign efforts. We watched another DemocracyNow! segment in which Belkin discussed the repeal with activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. In this discussion, students were impressed with how honest Belkin was about the limits of the DADT strategy and the difficulties of working across coalitions of GLBTQ persons with various agendas and socio-political perspectives. The students were moved by how hard it is to stick to one's convictions with such clarity as the author did, particularly when people within one's own broader movement of liberation are being critical. They were very pensive and inspired by the author's example in this regard.
Belkin doesn't really define what progressive means. There is an underlying assumption that all progressives share the same agenda; a commitment to inclusivity of some sort. Students wondered, as they often do in graduate education, what we mean when we toss around different terms, when we take them for granted that everyone seems to know what we mean. So it might have been helpful for the author to define this term and be more specific about the lessons for progressives across different issues.
I highly recommend this book for use in social change and social movement classes, particularly in combination with other related resources that broaden the scope of the conversation.