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December 06, 2005

It may surprise you to know that I think military recruiters should be allowed on college campuses.

Freedom of speech and stuff. Any other organization that handed the university a lot of money would be allowed to proselytize on campus, so why not the government?

But it's a bit different than if the Moonies came calling, checkbook in hand. How public money is spent is a public issue. Most people approve of public money being spent on education, so the government doesn't have a lot of choice in that matter.

Also, I have to say that professors claiming that their freedom is infringed by having somneone whose views they don't agree with sharing the campus with them? Strikes me as kind of stupid and whiny. No, they shouldn't be required to promote the appearance of recruiters on campus, but universities are about having a lot of different and ideas and beliefs on display so, you know, don't be such weenies. If you object to what the recruiters stand for, civil rights-wise, then speak up. But you won't win the battle by trying to repress views you don't agree with.

The military can be an honorable and a worthwhile profession. Let us not let the Bush Administration's stupidity, greed, and brutality blind us to that. (I'd like to see a lot more public debate over exactly when and how we should use our military in the future, but that's a different rant.)

Also? I think the local College Republican organizations should get a special reception and a bit of pressure to put their money where their mouths are. Because their "hey, we should go kill people, but not me because I have a life and there's a party Saturday night" attitude really annoys me. (Not to mention that the fact that they feel entirely free to say, "someone else should die for this" says something scary about our society as a whole.)

I think each university's GLBT club should set up an "information" table right next to the recruiters' stands. With a few photos of prominent GLBT members of the military or in civilian life on display and info about their careers and accomplishments.

The other side of the recruiting stands might be a good place for whatever local anti-war organization exists and wants to discuss what we're doing in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Guantanamo. And however many "secret" detention facilities we have around the world. And here at home.

If universities have such a thing as environmental groups these days, one could set up behind the recruiters' tables and hand out flyers discussing the weapons research the military funds or conducts and the toxic pollution it creates.

I'm sure most universities have some kind of history club. They could hand out information on the evolution of the military in this country...how it claimed at every step that every innovation would destroy it utterly and yet it continues to exist and thrive.

Tell the whole story.

Yes, I'm rather ambiguous about the military. I see the necessity and I understand it. But I also disapprove of many of the uses it's been put to in the last century and I entirely disapprove of institutionalized bigotry.

As more and more nations around the world open the doors of legal and social equality to their GLBT citizens, our shining light of democracy dims and becomes tarnished by the continued refusal of some people to accept that someone can be unlike them, but just as worthy as a human being.

The Bush Administration, losing public support in their unwinnable "war on terror" around the world, is increasingly turning to open bigotry in an attempt to recover their popularity. (What else are those constant speeches about "immigration reform" if not thinly coded bigotry intended to whip up fear of "brown people" taking over the country?)

That's what people like them do. They hate. That's what holds them together, as a group. They have no positive impulses, no improvements or progress to offer in any field. They just...hate. And, sadly, where they hate, they try to kill.

It's not just a legal issue. It's not even mostly a legal issue. It's a social one. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, misogyny, racism, and homophobia are still firmly embedded in our culture. Discrimination on gender or racial grounds is technically illegal, leaving our GLBT citizens as the most vulnerable.

And, as the class divisions in this country grow ever wider, the "have nots" are going to be increasingly desperate for someone to blame. The easy solution has always been to blame a group even weaker than yours, to find an enemy you can defeat. Those with little or nothing have always propped up their egos and their self-esteem by finding groups with even less and taking it out on their members. The Bush Administration is using this well-known impulse for short-term political gain and, as with most of their actions, creating problems we're going to have to deal with for decades.

I think this is the decade's most important social issue. Have we reached the limits of freedom that an increasingly paranoid rightwing can accept or is there a way to teach the next generations that "other" is not the same as "enemy"?

Are all 'men' created equal, or are they not?

It's time to bring this fight out of the closet.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM


Oh Anne - just when I was preparing all during my morning run how I'd respond to your post on this issue. (actually, I'm not that surprised)

Umm..but still a few superficially supported shots at my beloved institution. I'll have to think some more before posting.

Posted by: Col Steve at December 6, 2005 07:40 PM

professors claiming that their freedom is infringed by having somneone whose views they don't agree with sharing the campus with them? Strikes me as kind of stupid and whiny.

Me, too. All of it, actually, but that's the part that applies to me directly.

University of Hawai'i's still trying to figure out whether to create a Navy-affiliate research institution. The faculty (majority of Manoa's senate, anyway) and chancellors are against it, but the Regents have final say.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at December 7, 2005 01:40 AM

Col. Steve - As you can tell, I'm deeply ambivalent about the military.

I have a huge respect for their mission and for the willingness of the soldiers to put their lives on the line if necessary...a respect I'm embarassed to admit to these days because of the horrible way I think the troops are being misused.

(rant removed)

But none of that is really the issue here. What's at issue is the question of prejudice. If the military lifts the ban on an estimated 10% of the population and allows gay and lesbian citizens of this country to serve if they choose to do so, then the current anti-recruiter problem will disappear.

There is no valid reason to bar these people from service. Certainly, gay men have been serving in the military since...well, since day one. The only difference would be that this part of our government would cease discriminating against them.

Posted by: Anne at December 7, 2005 10:36 AM

Jonathan - I thought I might be overstating, but I really did thing that the article made the professors sound petulant.

While I do approve of universities standing up for freedom and equality, I also do believe that you can't squish a prejudice out of existence. Instead of refusing to sully themselves by living in the real world, these professors should take the opportunity to speak out against discrimination, wherever it's found.

Posted by: Anne at December 7, 2005 10:55 AM