By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Harvard 'anti-military' stereotype

Those assuming that liberal/radical/leftwing Harvard is anti-military would have been surprised to observe Veterans Day at the Kennedy School. On arriving Wednesday morning -- the school was closed on Veterans Day itself -- there was a table offering Starbucks coffee, scrambled eggs and pastry for service members at the school. Active-duty military and reservists -- mostly students, but also some fellows in our various national security programs -- came to school in uniform. (I am not sure if this was a local initiative, or is generally promoted by the services for active-duty people at universities.)

Several of my master’s degree students posted Veterans Day greetings on Facebook. One status update, from a non-service member, read: "So excited to see my military classmates (active duty, reserves, guard, vets) in uniform tomorrow. Happy early Veterans Day!"

This of course tracks a larger change in American society over the past decades. It is only occasionally noted in the debate about gays in the military that gay-rights advocates are presenting the military as a good  institution in which people rightfully want to serve. Indeed, as someone who went to college in the late sixties, I am amazed to see the shift in the locus of campus opposition to ROTC: instead of being based on anti-militarism, such opposition often now is based on support for gay rights.

(Incidentally, to set the record straight, as a recent letter to the editor in The New York Times noted, Harvard never "threw out" ROTC from campus, even in the sixties, although this was demanded by radical students. The position of the faculty -- which I, incidentally, advocated as a student at the time -- was that Harvard should not accept ROTC courses being given academic credit. When the faculty voted to eliminate academic credit for ROTC courses, ROTC chose to leave campus.)

Posted on Nov 16, 2010 at 12:08 PM


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