That’s the number of Arabic linguists who have been discharged from the Army for being gay. Fifty-five. (We missed this fact when we blogged about the latest dismissal—interview here—but it’s so shocking we felt we had to bring it up now.)
If the military were serious about winning Iraqis’ hearts and minds, it would find a way to keep most of these linguists in the service.
The U.S. Army recently discharged a highly regarded Arabic linguist who was the target of an anonymous email “outing” campaign. Former Sergeant Bleu Copas was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was a member of the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division. A decorated Sergeant who received impressive performance reviews, Copas also performed in the 82nd Airborne Chorus. His dismissal, under the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel, brings the total number of Arabic language specialists dismissed under the ban to at least 55. Neither Copas nor his command know who was the source of the email campaign.