The War Within: Academia and the U.S. Military

Colorado professor Ward Churchill is not the disease, he’s the symptom.

For decades, the American academic elite, “educrats,” have waged war on America and, by association, the American military. The roots were born in the Vietnam War when liberals and academicians internalized their gut-level distrust and disdain for their government and their nation’s military. Through an often quiet yet nonetheless pitched struggle on our more notable campuses over three decades not much has changed.

Then, as now, these promulgators of “higher learning” reviled an ongoing war and those charged with fighting it. It’s a classic case of “we’re better than you.” Who else but dupes would fight for their country? Who else but the indigent, the criminal, and the ignorant would enlist in the armed forces, actually shave their heads and put on a “uniform?” I mean, come on, “uniform” means we’re all the same! Oh. My. God! Who else but the misguided would fight for a cause in war so misguided?

Last year, an UMass-Amherst graduate student mocked former NFL-player-turned-Army-Ranger-war-hero Pat Tillman who was killed in action in Afghanistan as an “idiot” who “got what was coming to him.” Another professor not named Churchill, Professor Peter Kirstein of Saint Xavier University in Chicago, wrote an e-mail to an Air Force Academy cadet calling him “a disgrace to this country” and blasted the military’s “baby killing tactics” and its “reign of death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples of the world.” He asked the young cadet to resign his commission and serve his country with honor.

In the throes of Vietnam, ROTC units were disbanded and outlawed and the on-campus visits from military recruiters prohibited. ROTC was once a vibrant and thriving conduit for the services created in the 1930s. It makes great sense. Talented, intelligent Americans receive an education at the expense of Uncle Sam and, in return, you give Uncle Sam a few years of service to your country. Where once military recruiters seeking to fill critical billets such as medicine and law were encouraged to interview prospective officers, now they often are prohibited from even setting foot on self-proclaimed hallowed grounds.

During World Wars I, II and Korea, institutions such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford and Columbia were primary sources for military officership. Now, tragically, these institutions go to exhaustive lengths to subvert, undermine and thwart America’s armed forces. Students who want to pursue an ROTC scholarship are forced to do so at “lesser” institutions or “off campus.” As Yale Law Dean Anthony Kronman proclaimed in 2002, “Any organization or individual who comes within the orbit of our life must conform with our principles.”

So much for diversity.

In 1994, New York Republican Congressman Gerald Solomon had the foresight to propose an amendment tying federal funding for academic institutions to unfettered access for ROTC units and military recruiters. You want to prohibit the military from functioning on your campus? Fine. But it’ll cost you where it hurts the most. Your coffers.

Not surprisingly, the Solomon Amendment, though passed, was ignored by the Clinton administration and Reno Justice Department. Nothing was done to enforce the amendment or to compel the universities to comply. Understand, we’re not talking about the federal government attempting to intervene and force academia to either promote a particular course of study or to deny one that already exists, we’re talking about allowing the U.S. military, in a time of war, the opportunity to recruit talented individuals with equal access as that of Microsoft, Ford, or CitiBank.

Enter the Bush administration. In May of 2002, the Air Force sent letters to over a dozen law schools announcing that universities who denied military recruiters full access would jeopardize all federal funding — which in schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Yale amounts to $300 million plus annually.

Apparently, even the Ivory Towers have their price. The elite institutions caved. Yale, for example, received $350 million in federal funding last year. Fearing the loss of all that cash, Yale permitted military recruiters to participate in their employment interviews. Harvard, given the choice to either permit the military on campus or lose $300 million in federal funds, opted for the money. In other words, “we have to let the buzz cut war-mongering barbarians visit, but we don’t have to like it!” And not without a fight.

What does any self-respecting liberal-minded entity do when forced to accept change? Sue.

In October 2003, the Yale Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality and OutLAWS, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law students, filed a lawsuit against the government to stop the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that the Defense Department’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on sexual orientation violated the university’s nondiscrimination policies. More than a generation ago, academics cited the Vietnam War as their justification for kicking ROTC and military recruiters off campus. Today, its discrimination based on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that wasn’t implemented until 1993. The rationale has changed but not the underlying theme: the liberal academic elite abhor the military. Let not truth impede irrational dissent.

And so the battle rages. This past January, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the Yale lawsuit found the Solomon Amendment to be unconstitutional. Immediately, Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh issued a memo that he is “notifying military recruiters that the Yale Law School will enforce its nondiscrimination policy during the Spring 2005 Interviewing Program without exception.”

The Department of Defense will appeal to the Supreme Court.

On February 2, 2005, the U.S House of Representatives held a vote on a resolution to uphold the Solomon Amendment. It passed 327 to 84. But you should know the names of those who voted against it; Conyers, Hinchey, Jackson-Lee, Kucinich, Levin, Pelosi, Rangel, Emanuel, Frank, Nadler and Waxman were among those shouting “nay.”

Note that among these congressmen are the many constantly beating the tired drum that our military is made up only of the sons and daughters of the poor and oppressed. When the military wants access to college campuses where, ostensibly, the sons and daughters of the rich reside, they vote ‘no.’

Recounting Yale Dean Kronman, “any organization or individual who comes within the orbit of our life must conform with our principles.”

And any institution that comes within the orbit of our tax dollars must conform to ours. The time of subsiding institutions with federal funding at a time when our nation is at war must stop. Feel free to loathe the military but don’t ask me to fund it.

Mr. Patterson is the best-selling author of Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard. He also hosts his radio show, The Buzz Cut, heard live every Monday at 1:00 PM Eastern at