Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harvard Hypocrisy on ROTC

Powerline notes today, with some approval, the seemingly reasonable comments of Harry Lewis, a professor at Harvard University, concerning Harvard's banning of ROTC on campus, allegedly due to the military's "anti-gay" stance. Always the hypocrites, Harvard is happy to allow those of their students who dare to desire a military career, to attend ROTC training at nearby MIT, which allows it. Of course, MIT gets to spend the dollars to support the Harvard students as well, without any reimbursement from their obviously smarter and clearly more smug compatriots. Writes professor Lewis:
But can we achieve moral purity for ourselves in one area by shifting a separate moral burden to other shoulders?

I admire the idealism of those who have fought for gay rights over the past 40 years and who have educated us about their importance. Like many, I believe the ban on homosexuals in the military is unwise and will eventually be lifted.

But I don’t think Harvard’s stance on ROTC is morally tenable. We should not attempt to remove the barriers facing some of our students by placing stumbling blocks in the path of others.

Correct. Harvard's stance is NOT morally tenable. It's moral posturing, substituting the appearance of virtue for virtue itself.

Professor Lewis perhaps fails to recognize the underlying hypocrisy in this "stance." The military's position on homosexuals is quite simply the current excuse for the current Harvard ROTC ban. If the military declared tomorrow that the ban were lifted, Harvard's academic hypocrites would simply move the goalposts and figure out another reason to ban ROTC.

Greg Mankiw offers a more interesting challenge to the Harvard hypocrites:
Some faculty see the Harvard ROTC ban as a protest against the federal government's treatment of gay military personnel. But to me the form of the protest seems particularly sanctimonious, as the faculty are asking for a sacrifice from others (in particular, from potential ROTC students and from other students who would benefit from a more diverse student body), while giving up relatively little themselves. I propose that any professor who wants to protest federal policy can do so personally by refusing to apply for or accept any grants from the federal government.
The military's position on homosexuals is simply the latest dodge employed by another bunch of intellectually and morally bankrupt academics to conceal their true position. They HATE the military. They're merely hiding behind their latest excuse. If you take that excuse away, they'll quickly come up with another. A miserable conclusion to draw on Veterans Day. But a correct one.

1 comment:

harry Lewis said...

Thanks for reassuring me that the Powerline comment was approving. I found it hard to tell.

The nice thing about the Morning Prayer format is they give you only 5 minutes, so you don't have to be fair and balanced. There are doubtless some other things going on beside the gay issue here. Probably the strongest anti-military sentiments are from the part of the Faculty that gets the fewest DoD grants, so there may be less hypocrisy than you suggest by individual professors, though if you take the Faculty as a unit that is surely the effect. I also suspect some social class issues are at work in the background. Probably there are more red-staters among the ROTC students, just as there probably are among intercollegiate athletes, another group with which the Faculty tends to have limited empathy. But I figure, one step at a time; perhaps progress really is possible, the point with which my little talk began. I'm trying to stay hopeful, as you usually don't accomplish very much the other way!