(ACADEMIA) DISDAIN FOR THE MILITARY

For those of you who still don't believe the truth about the “so-called elite” academia separation from the world the rest of us know - particularly in its almost complete disdain for our military - this article by “one of its insiders” may serve as an eye-opener. It is only the tip of the iceberg of the ultra-liberal depths of all but a scant minority of those who administer and teach our young people in colleges and universities - not just in the Ivy League, but throughout America:

MY IVY LEAGUE SOLDIER
By Regina E. Herzlinger. From the Wall Street 4-2-03, forwarded by Larry Miller

It was a typical Cambridge, Massachusetts's dinner party.

The academic/professional guests were seated on damask-upholstered chairs perched on antique rugs, their charming, well-groomed images reflected in Chinese Chippendale-framed mirrors. They were onto a favorite topic - the
stupidity of W., Rumsfeld, and the war.

One, a hippie academic-turned-chef, was especially virulent. “This war won't accomplish anything. It is all about money. The Bushes are in bed with the oil industry. We are fighting to protect their interests.”

Do not get me wrong. This is not a tirade about the People's Republic of Cambridge. I heard identical remarks about Bill Clinton, William Cohen (then Secretary of Defense) and the military forays they waged. Only the setting differed. The speakers were businessmen and the ornate settings decidedly new - but the sentiments were identical.

The President and the Secretaries of Defense were dumb.

Their wars were stupid

Geez, I wish I were so stupid. Maybe my friends have the cunning, intellect, charm, stamina and emotional and physical discipline needed to become the
President of this huge, fractious nation; but I sure don't.

My husband broke into the conversation.

“This is not an academic discussion for us,” he noted. “Unlike most of his Harvard College 2000 classmates, our son Alex chose to serve his country as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry. Stationed at Fort Drum, New York. He has just received deployment orders.”

It was as if he had switched on a flow of electricity. The tenor of the conversation changed entirely.

“I don't know anyone with a child in the military,” said the hippie. The other guests nodded in agreement.

“How do you feel about it?” he asked me.

“I was shocked when Alex told me of his decision to enroll in ROTC,” I said.

“Why don't you enlist when a noble war, like World War II, comes along?” I asked Alex. “The ROTC way you will serve at the whim of the President, no matter how distasteful you find the war.”

My then-18-year-old son calmly disagreed with me. “We need a standing military to preserve democracy,” he noted. “The military must serve the will of the country, not its own.” With this human face put on the war, the hippie's attitude changed. “Ask Alex if he wants me to cook him a meal when he comes home,” he said.

Alex's choice of ROTC at Harvard imposed substantial burdens on him. Harvard has no ROTC on campus. The faculty voted to ban it in 1969. On top of his academic work and beloved football team, Alex spent 10 hours a week at MIT's ROTC headquarters. His two burly roommates, football team buddies, recognized his load when they graciously gave him the only bedroom in their Leverett House quarters. Their show of support was hardly typical. I was among the few Harvard faculty present at Alex's ROTC graduation ceremony.

In 1957, 400 of 750 Princeton men served in the military. Last year it was three in a class of 1,000. The statistics are depressingly similar in other Ivy League schools.

Virtually all our friends noted them. When they asked about Alex's welfare, they said: “We do not know anybody else with a child in the military.”

One of the many horrors of the war in Vietnam was the inequity in our fighting forces, disproportionately drawn from minority groups and those with lower levels of education. Despite the vows to correct the problem, the widespread disdain in our elite academic institutions for the military has only exacerbated it. Absent broad representation from all strata of our society, the military, and the wars our soldiers fight, can remain a fantasy, virulently and easily decried.

But as Lincoln noted in yet another widely decried war fought predominantly by the lower classes, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Ms. Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor at Harvard Business School, is a member of the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Board.