Harvard is letting ROTC back on campus. The Weekly Standard thinks the mainstream media are making too little of this. (I’m not so sure: gay rights was important, but outside the Burkean confines of the Standard, many of us suspect that nothing Harvard does affects society much one way or the other. I wish it did.)
But the Standard’s blog post buries the lede just a little bit. Nowhere does it mention the reason ROTC wasn’t allowed at Harvard up to now, and the reason that’s changed: don’t ask, don’t tell.
That reason is hardly a secret. The phrase appears three times in the twelve-’graph Times story, and the fact that repeal of the policy led to repeal of the ban is the whole point of the story. But someone who read only the Standard’s version would get the idea that an effete Ivy League university, having dissed the military for no particular reason, has now climbed down. (A later post on how Columbia may invite ROTC back too also fails to mention DADT.) We apparently are supposed to see this as a triumph for conservatism.
In some ways, this makes me glad. Conservatives are well along in the process of treating gay rights as they have treated civil rights. First conservatives defended Jim Crow and talked as if the most interesting thing about the Civil Rights movement was that some of Dr. King’s friends had once been communists. Then they stopped defending segregation but fervently opposed, on ever more desperate procedural grounds, measures to end it. After that, they ignored the whole issue but took umbrage at any suggestion that the U.S. had ever had a race problem or that race was a significant part of our history. (Don’t believe me? Look up “political correctness” articles from anywhere in the country in the late 80s, or in much of the South or the hard-core Right blogosphere to this day). Now, they quote Martin Luther King whenever they want to propose something really radical that King would have hated.
In thirty years, expect the Standard to write that the Democratic party is perverting the true ideals of the Gay Rights movement, and that the Left should learn to take patriotic gay soldiers as its role models, as conservatives “always have.”