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How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (English Edition) von [Belkin, Aaron]
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How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (English Edition) Kindle Edition

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Kindle Edition, 20. September 2011
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September 20, 2011 marked a civil rights milestone for the United States. By order of Congress, the 17-year ban on gay men and lesbians serving in the military -- commonly known as "don't ask, don't tell" -- was overturned.

But how did this historic change come about? And why did it take so long?

In "How We Won," Aaron Belkin argues that the public needed to be persuaded that gay troops would not harm the military before Congress could be convinced to repeal the ban. Belkin, a scholar with more than a decade of hands-on experience in the repeal campaign, shares an insider's perspective on the strategies that he and others used to encourage this change of mind -- and change of heart -- in the American people and its Congress. His top strategy, a tactic which, surprisingly, progressives often fail to pursue, was targeting conservative lies.

The implications of Belkin's tactics extend far beyond the grass-roots movement to repeal "don't ask, don't tell". They challenge some of the left's most conventional wisdom about how to successfully set social policy. And the lessons that emerge could help progressives persuade the public about the merits of other big, liberal ideas, including the benefits of higher taxes and the dangers of an excessively strong military.

But for now, as Belkin says, it's time to celebrate this one great victory.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 403 KB
  • Verlag: The Huffington Post Media Group (15. September 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
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HASH(0x8e2c4240) von 5 Sternen The behind-the-scene absorbing story on Repeal 11. Dezember 2012
Von Bill Oliver - Veröffentlicht auf
What an amazing narrative this is regarding the 17-year struggle that finally ended in the repeal of DADT. If nothing else, it would be informative case study of what it takes to effect change in society - and giving evidence of the huge impact of a fairly small but very determined group of "activists." Surely, no one can tell this story better than Dr. Belkin, who played a key central role in the long struggle.

Allow me to quote the author from Chapter One - David and Goliath:
"I was in graduate school in 1993 (when DADT was enacted), and wouldn't enter the fight against DADT until 1999, when I founded the Palm Center, an institute dedicated to making sure that public policy was based on solid research rather than distortion. What followed was 11 years of hard work conducting scholarly research and then disseminating that research to the public.
"My central argument in this book is that, in order for Congress to repeal DADT, political and military leaders, as well as the public at large, had to be convinced that allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly would not harm the military. This single idea was the main roadblock to political progress, the obstacle we had to overcome to make it safe for politicians to repeal DADT. It didn't matter that scholars already knew that the Pentagon wasn't telling the truth. The key was to get the American people to understand."

The chapters in Section II, Strategy, identify the five strategies employed by the Palm Center: target conservative lies, iterate high quality research, recruit validators, build from within, and expose hypocrisy. Quoting from the fifth chapter:
"All of these anecdotes illustrate one important point: as progressives, we have a responsibility to call out our opponents and highlight their hypocrisy, distorted thinking and paranoia. ... We must never pull our punches when dealing with an opposition that is so reckless and dangerous, and so shameless about lying."

The narrative is greatly enhanced by the many little stories it tells of various meetings and encounters. An especially illuminating and tense chapter details how the lame duck Congress finally passed legislation repealing DADT on Dec. 18, 2010, just before it adjourned - and control of the House would pass to the Republicans.

The author refers many times to how the lessons learned and strategies employed in the repeal effort can be applied, with certain qualifications, to other issues dear to progressives. In conclusion, he writes:
"From my vantage point, it doesn't make much sense for progressives to worry about how to spin or frame a message. Our emphasis instead should be on honest research and simply telling the truth. That helped us win on DADT, and that's how we can win on other issues."

I highly recommend this book, an absorbing read on a fascinating hot-button issue that has had an immense impact on our gay and lesbian service members and the military's integrity - and also in furthering the cause for full GLBT equality in our great nation. My deep thanks to Dr. Belkin for his amazing diligence, perseverance and passion.
HASH(0x8e2c4648) von 5 Sternen Excellent resource for a social change course 6. Dezember 2012
Von Julie Todd - Veröffentlicht auf
I used How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as a resource for a social change foundational course at my graduate-level institution. I chose the text because it seemed like a good segue from the first half of the course on social change theory to the second half of the class on social change practice. In particular, I imagined it would be useful to illuminate notions of power and oppression, and framing theories. And it was.

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.
HASH(0x8e2a57e0) von 5 Sternen Thinking Deeply About the Repeal of DADT 22. September 2011
Von Because Ideas Matter - Veröffentlicht auf
Verifizierter Kauf
"How We Won" is a remarkable story written from the perspective of an eminently successful scholar and public policy activist. Although this book (which can easily be read in a single sitting) tells the story of the author's own involvement behind the scenes in overturning the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, it's message is much broader. Anyone (scholar or activist alike) who seeks policy change will undoubtedly benefit from the lessons Professor Belkin shares from his own experience. In a profoundly intellectual, yet easily accessible manner, Belkin reflects not only on the successes of his actions, but equally on his failures. One one page you'll find him complementing his opposition when he found himself outplayed, and then on the next page, he critiques their strategy. By evaluating all the evidence of this epic policy reversal, he provides a deeply reflective perspective into a very complex and fascinating story. Yet, what stands out most is how the author models his approach to effective public policy engagement through the creation of this manuscript: present both sides of the issue and let the facts do do the heavy lifting. Starting as a no-name assistant professor in 1999, Belkin shows how the power of a single voice within a democracy can change the course of history. This book is exceedingly well-done and a bargain at twice the price.
HASH(0x8e2c4828) von 5 Sternen An Unexpected Joy 4. Oktober 2011
Von David Levy, Co-Author, Echoes of Mind: Thinking Deeply About Humanship - Veröffentlicht auf
This is a wonderful and compelling read. I've been involved with the DADT debate and was expecting to reminisce more than learn while reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the debate I was unaware of. Aaron Belkin did a fantastic job of illustrating the complexity of the issue and pointing out the lessons learned. Activists at all levels and areas would likely benefit greatly from this book.
HASH(0x8dff8c48) von 5 Sternen Brilliant for any activist or reader 31. Januar 2012
Von Globewriter - Veröffentlicht auf
Verifizierter Kauf
This book was suggested to me by a fellow member of the ACT UP team and I wasn't especially interested at first. Reading it now I see what an important book it is. The title is correct. This is a book about lessons that help us fight sensibly. More importantly though, this is an intensely readable book and even though we know we got DADT repealed - we are fascinated by the process.
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