Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rainbows and army men

Yale is distributing rainbow pins to signify opposition to the Solomon Amendment. HLS Lambda scattered pink spray painted army men all over our classrooms last week for the same reason. I dig the army guys but they are hard to display with pride. It's too bad that Harvard is so dependent on the government teat that they can have their arm twisted like this. I respect their right to define their own mission and to exclude those from campus who don't fit into that scheme.

But isn't this whole exclusion business counterproductive? Shouldn't liberal law students want to swamp the JAG Corps, along with the rest of the armed services? How else can we effect real change in the military culture of homophobia if the only people who sign up are those who already subscribe to that culture? Change it from within, I say. Every liberal college student who joins the military is a gay-friendly officer. Isn't that what we want?

Update: I must add that there are many fine members of the armed services who oppose Don't Ask, Don't Tell. However, they are not the majority. Will Baude is correct that permitting recruiting might also serve a broader educational mission by allowing students on both sides of the issue to have easy access to the mechanism for effecting their policy goals. We all know the law school is rooting for one side, but they could at least take the long view and in the meantime reap the benefit of appearing neutral. In the final analysis, though, I don't think the law schools are the crux of the issue; the battle for the soul of the military won't take place in universities but in barracks.

This does, however, introduce the question of how neutral a university ought to be. There is a place for grand institutions that serve as intellectual no man's land, but to take this to the extreme means a college could not define a mission in any meaningful way.
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