These days, the academic senates of the Ivies and other schools are no doubt pondering the return of military recruiters to their campuses. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, which oversees ROTC programs on more than 300 campuses, has to be asking if it wants to expand to the elite campuses, where old antipathies are remembered on both sides.
Both sides? Really? Ask an Army officer what he thinks of Harvard, and the answer you'll hear is most likely something along the lines of "Good school." Ask a Harvard professor what he thinks of the typical Army officer, and ... well ... how about we let McCarthy speak for the Great Washed? Here's the view from the Harvard Quad:
It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.
They can stand with Martin Luther King Jr. and his view of America's penchant for war-making: "This madness must cease," he said from a pulpit in April 1967.
Actually, King was speaking quite specifically about the Vietnam War, not about any "penchant" America might have for all the firebombing and whatnot for Jesus.
Even well short of the pacifist positions, they can argue the impracticality of maintaining a military that has helped drive this country into record depths of debt. The defense budget has more than doubled since 2000, to over $700 billion.
If the Navy had the power to tax, we'd have fifty or sixty aircraft carriers -- which would actually be kinda cool. No, Congress has the power to tax and spend and borrow, and Obama's stimulus act cost more than the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, combined. This, despite all that mindless slaughtering.
They can align themselves with colleges such as Hobart, Earlham, Goshen, Guilford, Hampshire, George Fox and a long list of others that teach alternatives to violence.
And to that list, we can add ... the United States military. Ann Marlowe reports:
In 15 months, from January 2007 to the end of March 2008, the U.S. Army built 53 schools just in one eastern Afghan province, Khost. (It has since broken ground on 25 more.) School attendance in the million-population province has risen from just 38,000 in 2002 with 3,000 girls attending, to 210,000 at the beginning of the 2008 school year in March, 21% of whom are girls. (Yes, in this deeply conservative, remote province, that percentage represents a step forward.)
But McCarthy can still feel all superior, reminding readers: "Serve your country after college, these schools say, but consider the Peace Corps as well as the Marine Corps."
I'm not sure anyone is telling kids not to join the Peace Corps. But while the Army can build schools just as well as the Peace Corps can, can the Peace Corps defend those schools from vicious predators? Surely, there's a role for everybody -- even "peace studies" majors.