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J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Not Welcome On Campus
Anti-military academia…

[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 2/15/05

Universities are thought to be centers of learning where diverse ideas and viewpoints are welcome and freedom of expression is cherished. But some views are cherished more than others and some, perhaps, not at all. It often seems that those that are critical of the establishment and particularly of U.S. foreign policy are the most cherished by far.

Diversity in the faculties and student bodies used to be prized as well, but political diversity among faculties is hard to find nowadays. Numerous surveys and polls have revealed that college faculties are now overwhelmingly liberal in party registration and political viewpoint, especially in the northeast, Midwest and west coast.

Free speech on campus usually protects the rights of anyone who wishes to castigate the United States or sing the praises of, say, alternative lifestyles but often fails to protect the rights of those who support America’s foreign policies, the war on terrorism or traditional moral values. This speech is often labeled hateful or exclusionary and they are too often shouted down.

On many campuses, freedom of speech is also denied military recruiters and ROTC units. Indeed, their very access to campuses is often denied. The past forty years have been turbulent ones for the military on campuses. ROTC units have been vandalized, picketed and even fire bombed. Military recruiters have been harassed and insulted. The incredible part is that these transgressions against people, property, free expression and open access have often occurred at publicly funded, state universities; another example of your tax dollars at work.

Oh well, you say, college kids act up. They are natural protestors against authority. That’s all part of the education and maturation processes. Mature voices of reason in the faculties and administrations will curb their youthful exuberance. Bad news here, too. Faculty members have often fomented and even led the protests. Administrators, for their part, have often caved in to the student demands to bar military speakers and recruiters and to evict or bar ROTC units.

And how has the government reacted? Has it withdrawn or denied research funding or cut off federal aid to institutions that are hostile to its representatives? Why, no. That would be an infringement upon the universities’ freedom of action and expression. This, in my view is outrageous. Even more so is the fact that taxpayers tolerate it, if, in fact, they even bother to take note of it.

Adm. Vern Clark, the Navy’s top admiral, was recently asked about recruiting challenges and the competition among the services for good people. The Navy, he advised the questioner, was in competition with the Fortune 500 companies for the best people available. One of the reasons why the armed services oppose resumption of the draft is the somewhat embarrassing fact that over half of the age-eligible population would not now qualify.

Service careers today are technologically challenging. In seeking the best candidates for these demanding jobs, it is natural that the services should turn to the universities and the high schools. Sadly, they are often turned away. The inevitable result will be a turning inward by the services and a greater reliance on military academies and conservative universities, mainly in the south, where the inmates have not yet seized control of the asylums and freedom of speech and diversity are actually still alive.

Forty years ago, public anger against the Vietnam War was the excuse. Today, the excuses are more varied and include anger against the Iraq war, repression of individual freedoms, support for Israel, abuse of prisoners, discrimination against gays, --whatever. They hardly need a reason, however. The prevailing sentiment on campus is too often anti-military, whatever the reason du jour. It is long past time that they learn that such hostility and exclusion carry a consequence. The federal government should cease rewarding such behavior with research grants and tax support and citizens should ask if their tax and donation dollars are funding it. tOR

copyright 2005 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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