Alok Vaid-Menon, president of Stanford University’s Students for Queer Liberation, echoed similar concerns regarding the military’s exclusion of the transgendered: “A re-introduction of ROTC on college campuses (including Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia) that include ‘gender identity’ in their non-discrimination clause is a fundamental violation of policy and an endorsement of discrimination.”
Like the Ivy League, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are exclusive institutions. Recruits must pass physical and mental tests. There are size and age restrictions. Moral issues, such as a criminal past or heavy drug use, can disqualify. Elite colleges are similarly particular about who gains entrance. Top students not only understand why such exclusionary measures are necessary for the Ivy League, they take pride in them. Why, then, do they cry “discrimination”—as if it were always a dirty world—at the military for employing selectivity? There have always been people ineligible for military service just as there have always been people ineligible for Columbia, Brown, and Harvard.
The rationalizations—the Vietnam War, the exclusion of gays, transgender rights—have changed. The contempt for the armed services has not.
As is the case at other schools, justifications for keeping ROTC out of Columbia run the gamut. “Transpeople are part of the Columbia community,” remarked one student. A sign–bearer explained via placard: “1 in 3 female soldiers experiences sexual assault in the military.” “Universities should not be involved in military activities,” Professor Emeritus Herbert Gans told the New York Post. “Columbia should come out against spending $300 billion a year on unnecessary wars.”
One wonders what issues would arise as hurdles for ROTC to overcome should the military address the aforementioned concerns. Ageism? Handicappism? Fatsoism? There are scores of phony reasons for banning ROTC. There is one real reason: academia hates the military.
More than forty years ago, when the activists of the 1960s first succeeded in kicking ROTC off college campuses, the buzzphrase of bad-faith radicals was “the issue is not the issue.” It still isn’t.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Sky News, PBS, CSPAN, and other broadcast networks. He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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