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Rewarding Anti-government Behavior on Campus
Academic hypocrisy…

[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 1/19/06

The liberal bias that permeates American college campuses isn’t news. Repeated polls show convincingly that that faculty members with liberal views or affiliations far outnumber their relatively few conservative colleagues. No problem here, you might say, so long as they keep their political and social biases out of the classroom. But, of course, they do not as many students whose grades have suffered because they vocally challenged an instructor’s biases can tell you.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

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]

Beyond the challenges posed to students who try to maintain conservative perspectives, problems arise when faculty members and students try to suppress opposing viewpoints. Sadly, this has become all too common. Conservative student newspapers have been confiscated and burned. Conservative speakers, including government officials, have been heckled, shouted down and even attacked. School administrators, who should have stepped in to regain control of the asylum from the inmates, have instead often caved in to student and faculty demands by canceling speaking engagements. Such intolerance is the very antithesis of academic freedom and makes a mockery of free speech.

I have no problem with campus protests and demonstrations against the war, the government, military policy, recruitment on campus or any other excuse used by students or faculty members to relieve their boredom and take a break from their more adult responsibilities. All that is fine so long as the other side gets a chance to express its viewpoint. But to deny them any voice or ban them from the campus or destroy their property, is cowardly and juvenile.

Recall the 1960s and ‘70s when college campuses served as battlegrounds for much of the anti-war movement. Barring military recruiters was one of the milder forms of protest. Evicting ROTC units and even burning their facilities were less subtle measures. I vividly recall uniformed military members being called baby killers. It was ugly.

In spite of such outrages, universities continued to receive ample amounts of federal funds including lucrative defense research projects. In the two decades following the Vietnam War, the anti-military bias faded somewhat and some of the institutions that had banned military recruiters and ROTC units actually welcomed them back. The anti-military bias was by no means entirely gone, however.

One of Bill Clinton’s first acts as president was to issue an executive order, without consulting military leaders, to end the military’s ban on known homosexuals serving in the armed forces. Coming as it did on the heels of an historic and culture-changing integration of women into operational roles, it was viewed by many in the military as the ultimate assault on the warrior culture. Mr. Clinton made no apparent attempt to understand this culture or to consider the problems involved in integrating young, sexually active homosexual and heterosexual men in crowded confines such as the berthing spaces in ships and submarines. Integrating women in ships had posed no comparable problems because of strict policies on separate berthing accommodations.

As a result of an unanticipated but entirely predictable furor, the “don’t ask, don’t tell “ policy was instituted. It was a compromise that didn’t please everyone but it did recognize the reality that thousands of gays had served and were serving with distinction without disclosing their sexual orientation. But gay activists were not satisfied with “being permitted to live a lie”. They wanted nothing less than an acknowledgement by the military that homosexual behavior was every bit as acceptable as heterosexual behavior. The military was not about to provide this endorsement of the gay lifestyle so “don’t ask, don’t tell” became the law of the land, as it were.

This issue was made to order for campus activists who decried the policy as discriminatory. Several schools expelled the recruiters again and many others threatened to. Since the military relies heavily on the universities for officer recruitment, Congress passed the Soloman amendment in 1994 that allowed the government to withhold federal funds from institutions that were hostile to its agencies or representatives. This should have persuaded the universities that such actions have actual financial consequences in the real world.

But universities don’t always act like they live in the real world. Led by Georgetown and Harvard, some law schools are now challenging the constitutionality of the Soloman amendment, on the silliest of grounds, arguing that allowing military recruiters on campus would imply endorsement of a military policy they feel discriminates against gays. But the military is following a policy agreed to by the Clinton administration that, in fact, allows gays to serve. As to discrimination, for that matter, the military “discriminates” against people who are underweight and overweight, people who are sight or hearing impaired, people who are missing limbs or have insufficient teeth, people who have certain diseases, people of insufficient intelligence, etc. The military just is not your typical employer. And aren’t the universities tacitly endorsing this policy anyway by accepting defense research grants every year?

The hypocrisy of all this was further demonstrated when at least one of the universities involved in the lawsuit accepted a grant from an institution representing Muslim interests. Didn’t anyone tell them about how homosexuals are treated in some Muslim countries? But then all this probably isn’t really about the right of homosexuals in the military to openly advertise their sexual orientation. It’s more likely just another manifestation of the continuing anti-military bias on campuses. It should not be rewarded by federal funds. -one-

copyright 2006 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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