I hate to say, “I told you so,” but…
Well, I told you so.
Two months ago Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed here in the land of the free and home of the brave, paving the way for gays to serve openly in the military. We’re still figuring out the details of how, exactly, that’s going to work. But despite all the dire predictions, so far the world hasn’t ended. The Republic hasn’t fallen. The military hasn’t resigned en mass. The terrorists have not won.
Life in the good old USA appears to be going on same as it ever was.
Oh sure, those of us who live and work among the military, those of us who are veterans ourselves, we all know at least one raging homophobe in uniform, the righteous fire of holy hatred beading his forehead like oily sweat and the smoky red light of Jesus glinting in his eyes. A crusty old senior NCO said to me the other day, “By God, I ever catch one of those queers staring at my ass in the shower and I’ll light him up!” The Sarge apparently has a fairly high opinion of his own posterior, I suspect he spends a lot of time admiring it in the mirror. Frankly, I doubt he has much to worry about. Yet, for all of that, the general consensus I hear around the base is best summed up by the young Marine I spoke to the other day: “Who the hell cares? I don’t give a damn if they’re straight or not, so long as they can shoot straight. I’m deploying to [insert warzone here] for the third time and I’ve got more important shit to worry about.“
The only folks who actually, really, care about this issue are on Capital Hill – and they don’t really give a damn about gays in uniform. They regard all of us as cannon fodder in the battle of politics and ideology. To them we’re nothing but political footballs they can use to score points off of the other party. The truth of the matter is that if liberals really cared about gays in the military, they would have forced the issue when they had the majority. And if conservatives really, really hated gays, they’d draft ‘em the way they did the poor during Vietnam and send them off to die in a foreign land for freedom, democracy, and General Motors’ bottom line.
Ah jeez, Jim, what in the hell did you have to bring up Vietnam for? I hear you ask in that tone you use when there’s nothing on TV but reruns of Full Metal Jacket. Nobody gives a crap about Vietnam or that poor black folks were drafted in disproportionate numbers during that idiotic conflict. There’s no draft now and we don’t do business that way anymore. Let it go. And now that DADT has been repealed, nobody has any reason to hate the military. Hell, even liberals might hate the war, but we support our troops – hate the sin, love the sinner, and like that.
Unless, of course, you happen to be a student at a liberal Ivy League college.
Last week Tony Maschek stood up in front of a student assembly at Columbia University to give a speech in support of establishing a ROTC unit on campus.
Now, Columbia is one of the oldest universities in the United States. In point of fact, it’s actually been around longer than the United States. Columbia was one of the nine colonial colleges established by Royal Charter under the hand of King George II, founded long before the Revolutionary War. It’s the oldest institution of higher learning in New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. Columbia is considered one of the top research institutions in the US – and therefore, the world. According to the Wikipedia, Columbia counts among its alumni and affiliates: five US Founding Fathers, four US presidents, nine Supreme Court justices, 26 foreign heads of state, 97 Nobel Prize winners, 101 Pulitzer Prize winners, 25 Academy Award winners with over 30 Oscars, more than 30 alumni and ten affiliate recipients of the National Medal of Science, 50 recipients of the MacArthur Genius Award, and 20 living billionaires. The university staff currently includes nine Nobel Laureates, 30 recipients of the MacArthur Genius Award, four recipients of the National Medal of Science, 143 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 38 members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 20 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 43 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
That’s just for starters and it’s pretty damned impressive.
Notice anything missing?
Look carefully, I’ll wait.
Obvious isn’t it?
Yes. We’ll come back to that.
So, anyway, as I was saying, last week Tony Maschek, stood up in front of his fellow students to advocate for inclusion of the Reserve Officer Training Corps in Columbia’s curriculum.
He was booed.
A number of students hissed at him, literally hissed at him.
Much has been made of this incident in certain circles, because, see, Tony Maschek is former Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Maschek, a combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart for grievous wounds received in action. In fact, Maschek was shot eleven times and spent two years in the hospital recovering – losing a leg in the process – and the students who booed and hissed heckled him as much for what he was saying as for who and what he was.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the outrage to boil over on conservative websites and forums – a few liberal ones too for that matter (it didn’t take long to get exaggerated all to hell either, with some versions of the story claiming Columbia students jeered Maschek but cheered Iranian President Ahmadinejad when he spoke at the World Leaders Forum there in 2007. Um, no. Ahmadinejad’s visit was met with massive protests. Nobody cheered him. Really, didn’t happen).
To be honest, I’m not sure why booing a one-legged combat vet is any more crass or obnoxious than hissing at any other person who has been invited to speak in front of an Ivy League student assembly. Sure, as a vet myself it irritates me, but I find that I’m not nearly as outraged as I am disappointed. Disappointed that students at one of the world’s premier schools, young men and women who aspire to world leadership, to the Sciences, to the Arts, to Medicine, and to the Law, would behave little better than a bunch of drunken assholes in the bleachers at a tractor pull.
I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised.
Remember that part where I said I told you so?
When DADT was repealed, I said that those liberal universities which rejected military recruiters and ROTC units because of the military’s ban on gays serving openly would find other reasons to continue that ban - and that’s exactly what happened.
Those universities are wrong. Wrong, foolish, and shortsighted.
The students who booed and hissed at Tony Maschek are wrong too. Wrong, foolish, and shortsighted.
Not because they booed and hissed, or rather not only because they booed and hissed, but because of what else they yelled at Maschek.
They called him a racist.
Now I’m pissed off.
See, the logic of that appalling ad hominem attack being this: the military recruits poor people, black people are poor, therefor the military targets black people, then the military sends them off to war, where they die for the White Man, ipso facto the military is racist, therefor anybody in the military or having served in the military is a racist, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
Up above, I didn’t bring up Vietnam, the students yelling “Racist!” at Columbia University did.
The logical fallacy, the lazy thinking, the level of defective reasoning based on faulty and outdated information (which could easily be proven false with a minimum of effort – especially at a research institution with the informational resources of Columbia), is simply staggering. Doubly so considering that it happened at one of the premier institutions of education, reasoning, logic, and research in the world. Let us hope that the hecklers either outgrow their appalling ignorance very soon or they fail out post haste and make room for someone with a modicum of reasoning ability. If this were my kid, I’d be demanding my money back from Columbia. If I were the Dean or the board of regents at Columbia, I’d institute an immediate review of the curriculum and the instructors – and any guilty of propagating such stupefying nonsense would either be put out to pasture immediately or sent off on field research somewhere that dysentery is the national sport.
Columbia banned the military from its campus in 1969, during the height of the Vietnam war, and stopped teaching military science classes in the early 1970's. It should be noted that the ban, here and on liberal campuses elsewhere, had absolutely nothing to due with gays serving openly. DADT became a cause celebre decades later. Columbia students desiring a career in the military are forced to attend ROTC programs and military classes at other nearby colleges - the hypocrisy of this is interesting, given its similarity in some regards to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind logic of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or the Separate But Equal thinking that preceded it. Despite the repeal of DADT, and University President Lee Bollinger’s promise to reinstitute the ROTC program at Columbia, little progress toward this end has been made. A significant fraction of the faculty and a slight majority of the students are against allowing the military to return to Columbia. Exactly as I predicated, now that DADT is gone other reasons will be found to maintain the status quo.
Other liberal US campuses, such as Stanford and Berkley, are similarly inclined.
At this point, it should be obvious that this really has nothing whatsoever to do with DADT.
The ban on the military has become institutionalized and even though the stated reason for it no longer exists, another will be found or manufactured (Ironic isn’t it? How similar to the hidebound reasoning of those in the military who wished to continue DADT? But I digress).
This is wrong. Wrong, foolish, and shortsighted and I expected better from such a prestigious institution.
Liberals, especially liberal campuses such as Columbia, should be demanding ROTC units.
They should be demanding the right to train America’s warriors.
The reason for this is twofold and should be obvious to even the most limited intellect:
First. lack of a military ROTC program at Columbia is, itself, racist. It’s also classist. It’s also immoral.
For a lot of people, the military is our ticket to a better life. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. For a lot of folks, the military is indeed a way out of poverty, a way out of the dead end alleys of the ‘hood and the projects. For those who manage to survive the streets and the drugs and the gangs and do reasonably well in an over crowded, underfunded inner city high school, a ROTC scholarship provides a path to higher education – and a better life – that might not exist otherwise. The same is true for those of us who come from small town bumfuck America, where the only factory closed years ago and there are no jobs and no opportunities unless you want to flip burgers or milk cows for welfare wages. Now here’s the thing so pay attention: plenty of people are willing to serve time in the military in order to get that education, to earn that opportunity for a better life. They are willing to risk their lives for their country of their own free will because their lives are already at risk, at risk from drugs, from poverty, from gangs, from lack of opportunity, from dead ends and closed factories and small horizons.
Yes! Exactly, that’s the whole point, Jim you idiot, I hear you say. The military preys on poor people. Military recruiters entice poor people into the service with a promise of a better life, then sends them off to war. That’s the whole point. It’s immoral!
No, what is immoral is the reasoning that says those people would somehow be better off staying in that dead end.
Let me ask you this. What if, instead of joining the military, that same poor black kid joined the fire department and risked his life charging into burning buildings for a paycheck, which he then saved so that he could one day afford to go to some crappy local community college?
Would that be any more moral?
The simple truth of the matter is that those who would deny the military access to Columbia and other campuses are engaged in a moral hypocrisy writ large – by failing to institute an ROTC program, they deny poor and minority students access to a Top Tier education and regulate them to second class citizenship.
They deny poor people a choice.
How moral is that?
Second but just as importantly, Liberals, such as those at Columbia who are so critical of the military, are self-selecting themselves out of the decision making process. They are leaving the professional Officer Corps – which defines the senior US military leadership, including those who advise the President and Congress and formulate US military policy and who often go on to post-military careers in politics and business – to be shaped almost entirely by conservative educational institutions.
Up above I asked you if you noticed anything missing from Columbia’s list of distinguished graduates.
I noticed it right away. Did you?
How many graduates on that distinguished list were career military leaders? How many of the them were Generals, Admirals, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, Secretaries of Defense, National Security Advisors, Directors of the CIA or NSA?
Sure, there have been a few, a very few, such as Admiral Hyman Rickover and Alfred Thayer Mahan. But what percentage compared to the number of notable scientists, engineers, statesmen, politicians, lawyers, judges, diplomats, and business leaders?
By denying the military access to Columbia, Liberals make the military all the more a bastion of conservative thought.
This is dangerous. Dangerous to the military and to institutions of higher learning alike, institutionalized single points of view are always dangerous. This stratified attitude is contrary to democracy, to the republic, and to the very ideals which liberal institutions such as Columbia claim to hold dear.
Ironic isn’t it, that liberals are at least partially responsible for shaping the very attitudes among our military leadership that they themselves despise.
Ironic isn’t it, that a deeply conservative institution, such as the military, has almost always benefited from a liberal education.
Those two military leaders I named above, Rickover and Mahan, brought radically different viewpoints to the military – to the Navy specifically. They were both responsible for initiating fundamental transformations of the force. Alfred Thayer Mahan became one of the world’s greatest military strategists, he formulated the Mahan Doctrine and played a significant role, along with his classmate Teddy Roosevelt, in establishing the United States as a world super power during the early part of the last century. Hyman Rickover is considered the father of the nuclear Navy, one of the pillars of modern US military strength, and one of the principle reasons we still are a super power.
If more professional military leaders were trained at institutions such as Columbia, perhaps it wouldn’t have taken 17 years to repeal DADT.
You might want to think about that for a minute or two.
Funny how it’s military conservatives who are the ones seeking a liberal education.
Funny how it’s liberals who are denying them the opportunity.