I’ve heard liberals say that WaPo’s opinion page skews right, but after reading this, I … completely agree with them, actually. If you were a conservative looking to discredit ROTC opponents, what sort of leftist would you recruit for an op-ed? How about a guy who dismisses ROTC classes as “softie courses” literally two sentences after praising race/gender/LGBT identity studies? Or how about a guy prone to saying things like, “I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s”? Find the man willing to put those thoughts to paper and you’ve found a perfect patsy for your pro-ROTC agenda.
Well played, WaPo. Very well played.
At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn’t afford ever-rising college tabs.
To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I’ve had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.
ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.
If you’re wondering how he squares that latter idea with, say, World War II, let Wikipedia enlighten you, my friends. Jonah Goldberg and VDH are destroying this guy over at National Review, but given the sheer lameness of the piece — one of his ideas is for universities to institute degrees in “peace studies,” which sounds like a fine major for a heavily indebted student to pursue in this economy — their counterarguments feel like overkill. Here’s all you really need to know: Even at Yale, nearly 70 percent of students support the return of ROTC now that DADT has been repealed, with hundreds among them expressing interest in the program. Which is to say, even within safely liberal precincts, this sort of hostility to the program is way, way out there. In fact, I wonder what WaPo’s next op-ed idea for making liberals look buffoonish will be. Maybe a column calling on Alan Grayson to run for president? (Jackpot!) Exit question: Which “principles,” precisely, does McCarthy admire the Taliban for defending?