Thomas Sowell

Those of us whose pessimism about our country's social degeneration sometimes borders on despair have been given a reality check by the dedication, discipline, and decency of our troops in Iraq, as well as by the advanced technology of the military equipment they use. There is more than a little hope there.

A recent episode at Amherst College provides even more reason to hope, for it shows a striking contrast between the behavior of college professors and their students in response to the war in Iraq.

Here, as on many other campuses, professors began reliving their 1960s anti-war activism by trying to turn their classrooms into propaganda centers, giving themselves paid vacations from teaching in the name of moral protest, and parading around the dining hall carrying anti-war signs.

Students not only confronted these professors, one student even shoved a prof. When leftist students tried to get the Amherst student government to ask professors to take 15 minutes of class time to discuss the war, the student government refused.

One of the faculty members who seems disappointed with today's students for not joining in the festivities made a very revealing statement: "We used to like to offend people," she said. "We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?"

The answer to that question was given years ago in an old war movie, "The Dirty Dozen" <buy movie>, where a general says: "Major, this war is not being fought for your amusement!"

The mothers, widows, and orphans of men who will come home in body bags are particularly unlikely to be amused. Parents who are paying big bucks tuition to send their children to pricey places like Amherst -- some of these parents taking out second mortgages to foot the bill -- may also want to question what kind of education they are sacrificing to pay for, when professors act like overgrown adolescents.

None of this is unique to Amherst. A columnist in a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin at Madison criticized a professor there for cancelling classes to protest the war, saying that she should be reprimanded and a portion of the students' tuition refunded. This was once one of the most radical anti-war campuses in the country, during the Vietnam war.

At Columbia University, a professor called for "a million Mogadishus" -- the place where the naked bodies of dead American soldiers were dragged through the streets -- but students are trying to get ROTC restored.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate