I wrote recently about another time when it's inappropriate to undertake more than the most minimal of protests--at a graduation. Armbands are one thing, turning your back on an invited speaker is another. Do we really want to turn every single event into a political protest?
The president of Harvard might answer yes.
And (former Harvard president) Mr. Summers backed up his words by attending the commissioning ceremonies for Harvard's ROTC graduates.
Unfortunately, his successor, Drew Faust, did not attend last year's ceremony. Recently, she announced she will attend this year's ceremony. And in an email, a Harvard spokesman confirms that while President Faust has the "greatest admiration" for Harvard's ROTC students, she has clearly stated that the opportunity to serve should be open to all Harvard students – and any reference she makes that day will be "respectfully and appropriately conveyed." In other words, she reserves the right to use the event to voice disagreement with "don't ask, don't tell."
What would this mean? Well, for the Harvard seniors who will be receiving the gold bars of a second lieutenant, it would mean a political note injected into what should be a day of pride and celebration. It would mean that they will be called to account for a political policy that they do not set. And it would mean that in their first moments as new officers, they will be told by the leader of their university that they serve an institution that isn't, well, quite worthy of Harvard.
How sad this is. We are constantly told by critics that it is the war and the administration's policy they oppose, not the troops. University commissioning ceremonies would be a good time to prove it.
I agree. People where were "brought up right" understand this. Those who want to selfishly score their political points by raining on someone else's parade are not brave, are not to be celebrated. They, in the words of John Stuart Mill, are miserable creatures who have no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of men (and women) better than themselves--men and women like those President Faust seems to hold in such contempt.