The Stanford Daily
Crime & Safety
Home » Opinions » Letter: ROTC as a civil rights issue
Letter: ROTC as a civil rights issue
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 | By Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor,There is an unfortunate and embarrassing tendency in some corners of American politics for the slogans of the civil rights movement to be employed in service of almost any political goal. This is usually done by those who still don’t really understand the legal and moral basis of the movement, and their rationale is that “everyone thinks those slogans stand for irrefutable moral truths, so if we say that those slogans support our position, people will feel obliged to agree with us.”A truly surprising and disgusting example of this sophistry was witnessed by all those who were present at the town hall meeting regarding ROTC last Tuesday. Incomprehensibly, the terms “separate but equal” and “busing” were used as part of an argument for ROTC’s return. It was also suggested that military-connected people are a “minority” and that the University should provide them with a “safe space on campus.” So as to avoid casting aspersions on all students who argued in support of ROTC, I should point out that a number of pro-ROTC students were shaking their heads in confusion and embarrassment while these arguments were being made.The heart of the matter, if it even needs clarification, is that joining ROTC is an occupational decision. “Military-connectedness” is qualitatively different to “race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, [or] gender identity” (quoting from Stanford’s nondiscrimination policy) in the same way that “Google-connectedness” (i.e., being a former, current or future Google employee) is qualitatively different. The U.S. military is an employer. You may think it is the greatest employer on the face of the earth or you may think it is repugnant, but neither viewpoint is necessarily relevant to the question at hand: whether Stanford University, as an institution, should treat the U.S. military any differently from the way it treats other employers.In effect, what those supporting ROTC’s return are arguing for is positive discrimination (in other words, “affirmative action”) on the basis of undergraduate students’ occupational decisions. When asked why all non-military employers located a similar distance from campus should not also be provided with on-campus facilities, the only way to defend ROTC’s return is to argue that Stanford should differentiate between military service and other types of employment in a way that defines military service as necessarily superior.The argument that Stanford’s undergraduate students currently have convenient access to every possible occupational opportunity other than the U.S. military, and that ROTC should be brought back to campus in order to rectify this “inequality,” has an obvious flaw: Stanford’s students do not have convenient access to anything close to every occupational opportunity, and it would be impossible for the University to make it so. As the majority of the 1969 Ad Hoc Committee on ROTC recognized, Stanford cannot be all things to all people and, as a result, the provision of facilities in support of one group of students’ occupational decisions would constitute an institutional preference for that occupation above all others.Sam Windley LL.M. ‘11President, Stanford Says No to War
Ted Rudow III,MA says:
January 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm
In “1984,” the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever-changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime’s autocratic practices. Before every war, there’s a long period of mental conditioning and psychological preparation. You never saw how self-righteous nations can get just before a war. So righteous and so convinced that they are right and the other fellow’s the criminal, the devil who needs to be conquered.
To say these things is practically heresy today, because of the years of propaganda!–All the propaganda they crammed down your throat when you were in school. Nations and people are terrified of terrorism, and many are quite willing to give up all sorts of freedoms — many of the very freedoms we are supposedly “fighting for” — to avoid it. In time of war the first casualty is truth. Sometimes fiction is just as strange as truth.
“Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”