Kerry’s gaffe (whether he spoke intentionally or not) highlighted the “intellectual” class’s disdain for the military. I use the word “intellectual” carefully here, so as to distinguish it both from actual intelligence and from education. The intellectual class is a self-selected group whose members may not have done very well in school and who may not be very smart, but who believe themselves to be thinkers. Interestingly, as I noted in a post a few weeks ago, a liberal friend of mine, even though he agrees with all the facts that led me to part ways with the Democrats, always backs Democratic positions because “they’re more intellectual — they think better.”
I think this point is important given that yet another “academic community” is trying to sever the military/education tie. This time it’s San Francisco which, much to my surprise, still has its ROTC program. I remember the ROTC kids from my high school years as disciplined, friendly and devoted to the corp. Most went on to the military after graduation (either graduation from high school, or college). I counted many amongst my friends (demonstrating, I guess, once again my nascent conservatism). Be that as it may, the program is at risk now, and, as a surprisingly sympathetic San Francisco Chronicle article notes, many are not happy:
Talen Lee [a battalion officer], whose life is filled with family and personal problems, has earned respect and prizes it. In JROTC, Talen says, he finds stability, acceptance and happiness.
Yet in eight days, the San Francisco Board of Education is expected to kill off the long-standing and enormously popular course, a politically motivated expulsion that Army officials believe is rare if not unprecedented among the nation’s high schools in recent decades.
A majority of board members say the benefits of the 90-year-old program are not worth the association with the U.S. military, an institution they consider discriminatory, homophobic and at odds with the mission of public education.
Nearly 1,600 San Francisco cadets go through JROTC roll call each day. These students are 4-foot-10 to 6-foot-4. Athletic and disabled. College-bound and barely graduating. Gay and straight. White, black and brown. Some leave school for large homes with ocean views. Others board buses for Bayview-Hunters Point.
Dressed in $200 Army-issue uniforms, they look alike, conforming to a rigid structure borrowed from military traditions. For decades, JROTC cadets like Talen have walked through the halls of San Francisco’s high schools.
The city’s JROTC cadets don’t want to lose the sense of purpose and place they say they find there now. They show up dutifully and stay late after school, attending leadership meetings or organizing food drives. Practicing marching, drums or drills. Becoming, they say, leaders, teachers and teammates.
Despite the program’s name and the military funding it receives, JROTC does not urge students to be soldiers, nor does it follow federal “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules regarding homosexuality. The program requires no future commitment of cadets and the vast majority of the students say they have no intention of entering the armed forces.
This article again demonstrates that the Left has it bass ackwards — the all volunteer military doesn’t prey on kids. Instead, it’s just another in a series of options that people can choose, whether because they are educated or because they want to further their education.
By the way, I’m not quite sure yet how it fits in with my chattering classes versus the military line of thinking, but I came across something interesting in Michael Medved’s book Right Turns. In it, he reminded me that kids could defer the draft by going to college. It was these same college kids, who wanted to avoid the draft in the first instance, who provided the manpower for the anti-War movement. And significantly, the anti-War movement collapsed, not when the war ended, but when the draft ended. It wasn’t about principles; it was about avoiding military service (at least according to Medved’s take, which coincides with my own hazy, childish memories).