Banned on campus

Posted: Jun 20, 2002 12:00 AM
When the United States builds a missile-defense shield, it should leave a small hole right above Harvard University -- and Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Brown. Each of these institutions bans the U.S. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) from conducting classes on its campus. Until they let ROTC back on campus, let them defend themselves. Now, when America is under attack, it is vital that America's youth know the military personally, rather than buying professorial slander about the military-industrial complex and the "dark side" of the U.S. armed forces. Still, many top-notch universities ban ROTC. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Brown all banned ROTC in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of the "immoral" Vietnam War. Students protested and took over buildings; university credit for ROTC courses was revoked; and ROTC was effectively forced off campus. Now, universities justify the ban by citing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuals. These are lame excuses to justify the anti-military attitude of Ivy League intellectuals. Because of the ban, Harvard ROTC students must travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their courses. Yale's finest must go to the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Brown's military men and women must travel to Providence College. ROTC members at Columbia must go to City University of New York and Manhattan College for courses. Stanford's ROTC cadets, ironically, are only allowed course and drill instruction at the University of California at Berkeley. Each of these colleges is ranked among the top 20 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, but what they boast in intellectual pretensions, they lack in moral clarity. While professors are granted room to promote Marxism, communism and other anti-American philosophies, the U.S. armed forces are refused space to teach ideas and strategies that are patriotic and useful. ROTC teaches personal responsibility, problem solving and leadership. For non-ROTC students, it teaches respect for the military and the global centrality of the U.S. military, besides teaching a pragmatic skill set. I know the importance of ROTC because I completed a Military Science course at UCLA last week, during the final quarter of my sophomore year. Roughly half of the class was composed of UCLA students, and the other half were ROTC men and women. The class was titled "Principles of Land Navigation Applicable in Maneuver," a map-reading course. As one of my ROTC friends joked, the only things we shot were azimuths. It was the only course I have ever taken at UCLA that was openly pro-American. One day, a colonel spoke to the class about enlistment in the Army. "I am an unabashed patriot. I will do whatever it takes to defend my country. That is why I joined the U.S. Army," he said. My instinctive response was to look around to make sure no UC administrator was present to accost him; my second was to smile at proud patriotism being demonstrated on a college campus. I could have cheered. Only in this course did I get straight talk from a professor, a captain in the U.S. Army. In one lecture, she discussed military operations in urban terrain, and the subject of civilian casualties arose. In my experience at UCLA, other professors equated purposeful killing of civilians with accidental civilian casualties while pursuing the enemy. These professors generally portray civilians in enemy countries as complete innocents victimized by rogue governments. The captain was not one for that kind of politically correct garbage. "What do we call civilian casualties?" she asked the class. The hand of a student shot up, and he said "Collateral damage, ma'am." "Yes," she replied, "we try to avoid collateral damage even though those same civilians are probably helping the enemy." In ROTC courses, honesty is still permitted. ROTC provides students the opportunity to meet future members of America's bravest and finest. Most college students picture stupid, doped-up "cannon fodder" when they think of the men and women of the military. But sitting and talking with military personnel shatters that belief once and for all. These are intelligent, vivid people who love their country and are willing to give their lives fighting for it. Students need to know this. Universities are constantly touting their diversity of education. To that end, they provide space for courses on homosexuality, on American imperialism, on Marxism. Yet they refuse to enrich the education of their students by allowing ROTC on campus. No missile-defense shield should defend the morally indefensible.