Achilles Heel

By lex, on April 19th, 2010

Prospective SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan may or may not bat for the other team. I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care. Although I did find it mildly interesting the lengths the White House had to go to insist that Oh, NO SHE ISN’T!!!!

Like there was something maybe wrong with that.

But whatever.

No, according to reliably left liberal Peter Beinart, Kagan’s singular vulnerability might be her free speech bona fides:**

“I abhor the military’s discriminatory recruitment policy,” wrote Kagan in 2003. It is “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order.” So far, so good. Not allowing openly gay and lesbian Americans into the military is a grave moral injustice and it is a disgrace that so many Republicans defend the policy to this day. But the response that Kagan favored banning military recruiters from campus—was stupid and counterproductive. I think it showed bad judgment.

The United States military is not Procter and Gamble. It is not just another employer. It is the institution whose members risk their lives to protect the country. You can disagree with the policies of the American military; you can even hate them, but you can’t alienate yourself from the institution without in a certain sense alienating yourself from the country. Barring the military from campus is a bit like barring the president or even the flag. It’s more than a statement of criticism; it’s a statement of national estrangement.

Well, I know a number of  us felt that way at the time.

You know, the most liberal members of the professoriate at the Naval Academy – at least when I was a mid – were my civilian political science professors. They were probably solidly in the middle of academic political though nationwide, but at Navy, they stood out, if only for having a definable and identifiable political position. My differential equations and electrical engineering professors may have had points of view also – they almost certainly did – but I never heard a whisper of them.

I always fancied that my poly sci profs imagined themselves as besieged recusants within the belly of the military/industrial beast. I imagined that tweaking the straight arrow and right-leaning midshipmen gave them a certain guilty frisson. But from an economy of effort perspective, they’d have been more persuasive as rulers back home than rebels at Navy.

Years later, as I learned of Ivy League opposition to military recruiters on campus, I had to wonder if the Kagans of the world weren’t doing it wrong. I think Beinert might be on to something.

** 09-29-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Neptunus Lex, Politics and Culture

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