Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spectator Chooses Militarism over Human Rights

Today's Spectator features an outrageous and dangerous editorial advocating the return of the ROTC to campus. Aware of their reactionary stance, the Spec attempts to display the "liberal" credentials of their position by opening with a reference to the recent Democratic Party debate in which all candidates said they'd support cutting funding for schools that refused to allow the ROTC on campus.

The spurious logic that ROTC candidates are "marginalized" on campus was not unexpected. Marginalization is a problematic term, precisely because it can be misapplied to situations such as this. People of African descent can be said to be "marginalized" because we live in a racist society which has structurally oppressed and exploited them, from slavery to the modern ghetto. Is America an "anti-military" society, in the same way that it is a racist society? It would be laughable, if such an idea were not so dangerous, it's absurdity so stealthy at a time of war and blind patriotism. If any cultural or ideological tendency predominates in American society, it is towards militarism, and jingoist authoritarianism. I have no sympathy for the "marginalized" future officers of one of the most globally-hated, destructive, and overpowering organizations of violence in human history.

However, he truly scary thing about the Spec's position is its appeal the the exceptional value and importance of the military in American society. Apparently, the military is in "a different category altogether" and thus the ethical standards which apply to businesses and all other institutions cannot be held against the military. This naive worship of power, this blatant militarism, the willingness to sacrifice human rights (the equality of all persons regardless of sexual orientation) to a supposedly higher value (the "integral role" of the military "in American culture and society") has dangerous implications. Would Spec be willing to sacrifice other human rights? If the military proscribed African Americans or Jews from joining, would they still endorse the return of ROTC? It is the basic structure of the argument, that lesser values have to be sacrificed to the "integral" importance of the military since it is "in a different category altogether." Would we sacrifice democracy for the military? What else would we sacrifice? Spec needs to think about the ethical implications of its mode of argumentation. This blind militarism is historically associated with the authoritarian Right, with fascism. Here is the most offen section in full:

Those protocols should be enforced against businesses and other institutions, but the U.S. military is in a different category altogether. For all its faults, the military has too integral a role in American culture and society to be summarily banned from campus.
This of course has been a huge coup for the pressure groups who have worked for the return of the ROTC. If Spec wishes to have any ethical or political currency, it must retract this deeply offensive and morally repugnant editorial and offer a formal apology to all who value human beings more than the military.

Email Spectator's Editor in Chief: Tom Faure,

Email Spectator's Opinion Editor: Miriam Krule,

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