More ROTC? The war on war continues
There are some disappointing contradictions in the arguments made against inviting ROTC back to campus, two of which I would like to briefly unearth. First is the argument that under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” ROTC was barred from campus because of our University’s dedication to non-discrimination. OK, so we’ve rightfully established we will not discriminate on the spectrum of sexuality, but apparently we will discriminate on the spectrum of citizenship ideologies? What about students whose constitution of self and identity, of worldview, of action and interaction with society, politics, and academia, is expressed through their service in the armed forces? Isn’t the effective banning of ROTC discriminatory against them?
The second issue is freedom of expression, a fundamental principle of the University and its president. For many cadets ROTC is an expression of patriotism, of dedication, and of respect, not necessarily for a political entity but for that poignant, ambiguous, world-changing, and frustrating ideological body that is the American ethos. Of course we Columbians have a tendency to chafe and scoff at such concepts, but in exercising our right to scoff let us not delimit the rights of others to express those beliefs.
I am a real pacifist, by which I mean I believe in peaceful conflict resolution and diplomacy as effectual and realistic, albeit it near impossible, endeavors. But ultimately I find something fundamentally flawed with the current debate that has nothing to do with the content of either side but rather with the debate itself. These are noble and necessary conversations on difficult and pressing issues that need to be confronted (i.e. mistreatment of women, of transgendered citizens, and of low-income citizens). But the ROTC debate is an ineffective and insufficient arena for realizing and sustaining such imperative discussion. The ROTC question has exploded into a wholly larger debate, an infinitely expansive, poignant, and polymorphous debate on militarism and war. But the ROTC debate platform cannot adequately hold the weight of such grave discussions. Let us then find a more suitable venue.
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