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“It doesn’t matter how you feel about the war,” Columbia University freshman Anthony Maschek told classmates last week. “It doesn’t matter how you feel about fighting. There are bad men out there plotting to kill you.”
Maschek knows this too well. In 2008, the Army staff sergeant got shot eleven times in a fight in Kirkuk, Iraq. Before arriving at Columbia last August, Maschek had spent two years rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His road from Idaho to Columbia via Iraq was certainly the one less travelled.
Such a story awes and inspires the rest of America. At Columbia, Maschek got heckled. “Racist!” one student reportedly jeered, while others booed and laughed at the disabled veteran, according to the New York Post.
The wounded warrior’s impromptu speech was part of the second of three campus forums on the possible return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps to Columbia in the wake of the repeal of the congressional ban on open homosexuals serving in the military. At the first forum, like the second, a slight majority of speakers urged the school to continue to keep ROTC out of Morningside Heights. The third forum takes place February 23. The University Senate votes on the matter in April.
Columbia is hardly the sole hotbed of military bashing. With the lifting of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibition on out-of-the-closet gays serving in the armed forces, schools—Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Brown, etc.—that discriminate against ROTC cadets (but not, consequently, against military research grants and contracts) have the face-saving opportunity to welcome back would-be student servicemen. Instead, the disappearance of gays in the military as an issue has prompted ever-more creative rationalizations for continued anti-military discrimination.
“Harvard should promote public service, but supporting the military as a particular form of service is problematic,” sophomore Christian Anderson contended in a debate over ROTC returning to America’s oldest college. “Not everything the military does constitutes public service.” The rebuttal came in response to a College Republican’s seemingly benign remark that including ROTC at Harvard would honor students serving America.
Conrad Honicker, an Emory University freshman, complained in the school paper that the military has “no services in place to update gender, and trans-related health care is systematically denied to transgender service members and veterans…. How can we justify bringing ROTC and military recruiters onto our campus when their values so clearly contradict our affirmation of our transgender friends and peers?”
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