Why, pray tell? Did the boys in red reverse course because Harvard recognized that in a time of war, hampering military recruitment was foolish and unpatriotic? Nah. Of course not.
Instead, Harvard finally bowed to a 1996 law stripping federal financing from schools that did not permit military recruiters. Faced with losing either its nondiscrimination principles or $328 million in federal funding, Harvard caved. "Most of us reluctantly accept the reality that this university cannot accept the loss of federal funds," Dean Robert Clark said in his statement.
Reaction appears remarkably restrained. Lindsay Harrison, a third-year student at Harvard Law and member of Lambda, a gay and lesbian group, told the media: "I vacillate between frustration with the government and frustration with the university, but the realities being what they are, Dean Clark had no choice but to cave."
No choice? Tell that to William Johnson, who announced the Augusta National Golf Club would actually turn down ad revenue rather than submit to demands from the National Council of Women's Organizations to admit women members before next year's Masters golf tournament. The Masters is one of the most-watched sports events around the world.
"He's firing his sponsors?" said Bob Williams, the president of Burns Sports and Celebrities in Evanston, Ill. "Oh my goodness. I've never heard of anything in sports or entertainment sponsorship that would match this."
Why? Does the Augusta National Golf Club hold firm moral principles against women playing golf? Nah. Women already play the course. And Johnson has been at pains to insist that the club has "no exclusionary policies." Observers expected the club to invite a woman or two to join sometime in the near future anyway.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.