Last week a student brought to me a brochure that was in our school's counseling office. It was titled Operation Enduring Reality, and was provided by the Sacramento Veterans for Peace and the Sacramento Peace Action. The tri-fold brochure essentially trashed the military as a career path or even a socially responsible profession. Lies, half-truths, distortions, and a few facts later, one would have to wonder how anyone could ever be in the military. Darn those babykillers.
So, what course of action should I take?
"Procure" all the brochures myself? That wouldn't be ethical. I wouldn't accept someone's taking all the Army brochures so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to take these.
Appeal to the school administration to have them removed from the counseling office because they aren't providing any academic/vocational information, but rather are trashing a vocation? While there's merit to that argument, I wouldn't make such an argument if I agreed with the content of the brochures.
Put army recruiter stickers on the brochures? "Defacing" isn't something I'd accept if it were done to army brochures, so I won't condone it just because I disagree with the content.
There are some contacts listed on the brochures if you'd like to have some of these peaceniks come out to the school and speak. I considered inviting them and ambushing them with pro-military students. That doesn't seem professional or courteous.
So I appealed to an email list of fellow West Point graduates for their ideas. One suggested taking the issue to "friendly" press, and have them expose the fact that such anti-military propaganda is allowed in the schools. Another suggested taking a few of the brochures to the next school board meeting and alerting the board members to a few of the more choice comments from the brochures--and asking them if they think it's appropriate, especially in wartime, to display such brochures in our schools. Actually, I like Option B.
Do I want that viewpoint suppressed? As much as I hate to say it, yes. Deep inside, no one is as accepting of opposing viewpoints as they'd like to think they are, and I'd like it if everyone were politically conservative, socially moderate, and darn logical--in other words, I'd like it if everyone agreed with my views! But the confirmed American in me just believes in the 1st Amendment too much to stifle someone else's viewpoint on my own, which is why I left the brochures unmolested.
If the school board decided to do it, though, that wouldn't really be my problem :-)
No, I'm not going to the school board with them. The Law of Unintended Consequences dictates that doing so would probably make a big issue out of what is right now nothing more than a few (ignored) brochures in a counseling office, lost among Stanford and University of California and Harvard brochures. Heck, last year there was a West Point poster hanging in the counseling office, and I had nothing to do with it!
At this rather late point in the post, let me state that I'm not some "nuke 'em till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark" militarist who thinks every international problem should be solved at the point of a rifle. Actually, I don't know anyone like that. It's a convenient stereotype used by people who probably know better. Let's hear from that greatest babykiller of them all, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, in an address to West Point's Corps of Cadets in 1962: "This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Read the entire speech here and see if it jibes with the views of those who doubt the honor of the profession of arms.
I'll let those brochures gather dust on a table, and eventually be thrown away to make room for more valuable (and more honest) documents.
Update, 3/9/05 8:20pm: Go here and read. It's short and entertaining. If you're reading this blog and specifically this post, you'll probably like this article.