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A Hack For All Seasons


It’s not exactly shocking that Glenn Reynolds is embarrassing himself about the Degraded Mustard Gas of Death And Terror that totally retrospectively justifies the Iraq War.   And yet, it’s far from the most embarrassing thing he’s written this month.    That would be his poetic-justice-as-fairness yuk-yuking about how liberals think diversity is a good thing…but ban ROTC from college campuses.   As usual, the thing is replete with illogic and ridiculously failed attempts at gotchas (liberals think that when the military wants to recruit employees it should comply with the same nondiscrimination rules that all other employers do…but it hasn’t banned some presidents who have signed bad legislation from campus!   Not offering particular military programs is a failure of “integration” comparable to Jim Crow!   Really, it goes on like that.)

But leaving aside the fact that whether or not colleges have banned ROTC has nothing to do with “diversity” — let alone integration — what about Reynolds’s central premise that elite universities have “banned” ROTC, and Congress should step in by legally requiring them to offer it?  Funny thing about that:

It turns out there is such a law. The Solomon Amendment, passed in 1994, withdraws federal financing from any college with a “policy or practice” preventing the military from “maintaining, establishing or operating” R.O.T.C. on its campus. The law also takes financing away from colleges that bar military recruiting. The Defense Department hasn’t been shy about enforcing its right to recruit, going all the way to the Supreme Court and winning in Rumsfeld v. FAIR.

So if there are colleges that ban R.O.T.C., why aren’t they being punished?

The answer is that in all my research on the subject, I have found no universities that ban R.O.T.C., nor has the military initiated action against any institution for banning the program. We have grown accustomed to saying there are bans only because it fits with the assumption that certain colleges are unfriendly to the military.

There’s no “ban” on ROTC at elite schools, then. When universities required ROTC programs to comply with the university’s standards, the military left. The military could return ROTC to elite campuses anytime if chose to comply with basic requirements for academic standards. What Reynolds is asking for, therefore, is not nondiscrimination but for military programs to be exempt from basic academic standards that apply everywhere else. Not a very compelling argument, I’m afraid.

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