Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Military recruiters chased off campus

Some people just don't get it.

Four military recruiters hastily fled a job fair Tuesday morning at UC Santa Cruz after a raucous crowd of student protesters blocked an entrance to the building where the Army and National Guard had set up information tables.

Members of Students Against War, who organized the counter-recruiting protest, loudly chanted "Don't come back. Don't come back" as the recruiters left the hilltop campus, escorted by several university police officers.

For a detailed discussion of why everyone, including antiwar activists, should want the military recruiting on campus, see here. It's in everyone's best interest.

As for this specific case, I oppose the war in Iraq. But these students have made the mistake of confusing the war with the warrior.

"We're saying it's not OK to recruit on high school campuses, it's not OK to recruit on university campuses,'' Marla Zubel, a UC Santa Cruz senior and member of Students Against War, said. "In order to stop the war, you have to make it more difficult to wage war."

Nonsense. The military is a tool. If you object to the way it is used, take it up with the tool user. Don't damage the tool so it can't be used at all. I'm sure the survivors of the Asian tsunami were glad we had a globe-spanning military, as were the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. As were the residents of Kosovo.

Moreover, the students are trampling on the First Amendment rights of the recruiters and students interested in a military career.

But at least one student, Cody James, said he was disappointed that he couldn't get in to speak with the military personnel.

"It's frustrating,'' said James, a senior majoring in politics. "I'm not a Republican. I'm not a conservative. I don't support the war. It's about finding a career."

The way to counter speech you don't like is with persuasive arguments, not by drowning it out. Don't like the war? Protest the war. But don't deny other citizens their rights, and don't turn everyone in a uniform into scapegoats.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said.

4/13/2006 3:11 AM  
Anonymous Marc Schneider said...

No surprise when student activists decide that they only like free speech for themselves and that they are the ones to decide what speech is to be heard. Seems very common to the campus left.

I read a lot of stuff about protecting academic freedom on campus. But it usually comes when a leftist is criticized by the right (a la the Walt/Mearsheimer brouha at Harvard). Criticizing Israel is a popular cause on campuses. How many of the academics crowing about academic freedom would be supporting those rights for someone arguing against, for example, affirmative action.

I'm certainly not a conservative and I do believe in academic freedom, but the rank hypocrisy drives me crazy.

4/13/2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Marc, it's hard to tell sometimes whether such perceptions are accurate reflections of reality. Much of the evidence is anecdotal.

I tend to discount the importance of things perpetrated by college students. They're young, they're still learning the responsibilities of a civil society, they're feeling their oats, they're asserting their independence.

It's when professors -- supposedly the adults on campus -- show hostility to free speech that I get annoyed. Or when administrators and professors don't take incidents like the above and use them as a teaching point.

Criticism is fine; trying to get someone fired for their speech is not. Trying to prevent them from speaking is not.

4/13/2006 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Marc Schneider said...

Well, that's the point. I think students often take their cues from their professors. To the extent that professors communicate to the students (directly or indirectly) that a particular point of view is not only wrong but illegitimate, it's going to encourage the students to try to suppress it. In this case, the military is generally unpopular on campuses and I suspect most liberal academics (while they might defend the principle) aren't going to lose any sleep over this.

4/13/2006 3:38 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Fair enough, and I would hold the professors responsible for that.

One reason you might see less of this sort of thing in conservative student bodies is that by definition they're more respectful of authority. So they don't have too many built-in reasons to protest. If they want a confrontation, they have to engineer it by inviting a liberal authority on to campus.

That doesn't mean they are any more welcoming to ideas they don't like. It just means they're better able to insulate themselves from them.

4/13/2006 4:37 PM  

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