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    Can't Help But Damn the Torpedoes

    No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.

    Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
    speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

     reluctant conclusion, implying that you either used to believe the other side or tried hard to believe it.

    The two guys who run the military for the commander in chief—Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen—have called for changing don’t ask don’t tell, the 17-year-old policy that allows gays to serve in the military so long as they don’t reveal their sexual preference. Some 13,500 gay and lesbian personnel have been discharged under the policy, including valuable Arabic translators.

    Mullen’s testimony took the form of a reluctant conclusion, one of the most powerful argument techniques. It implies that, much as you’d like to agree with the opposition, facts or circumstances give you no choice. The reluctant conclusion contributes mightily to your eunoia, the audience’s belief in your objectivity. Imagine if Mullen had said, “Anyone with a brain and a heart should recognize that…” If you happen to disagree, then Mullen is accusing you of lacking a brain and a heart. Goodbye, civility. Instead, he said, “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact…”

    The admiral’s testimony won’t get many conservatives behind a reversal, though. They have a good opposing argument: Don’t enforce a social change on a military that’s already under the stress of two wars. But then, conservatives had an even better argument when they opposed Harry Truman’s integration of the military during the Korean War, right after World War Two. Now, that was stressful. But Figaro can’t help but think that it was the American thing to do.

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