April 03, 2005

Military academies vs civilian universities

Higher Education

By the time I met the Feminist, however, I had gone from being caught off guard, to sarcasm, to incredulity and all to no avail, so it was she who became the receiver of my wrath, because there are — as I pointed out to her — fundamental differences between “them” and “us” and the students we teach.

We drive to Post each day, some of us dressed in a uniform, yes, but all of us wondering which of our students will be kept out of harm’s way and able to return for their 10-year class reunion. In the “small a” academies, we receive out-processing notification for cadets called to active duty with their Reserve or National Guard units before we can acknowledge one last salute and wish them a speedy return from
Guantánamo or Kuwait or Iraq.

We send make-up work to those who have had a negative reaction to their Anthrax or smallpox vaccine as their units await pending deployment orders. And be it at West Point or The Citadel, in Colorado, Annapolis, or VMI, we all open our email each day holding our breath, hoping not to see “RE: Taps” in the subject line, to mourn yet again the loss of a former cadet at the hands of terrorist enemies (at VMI we have received six such messages since September 11, 2001).

Ours is the honor of teaching young men and women who have vowed, like generations before them, to uphold and defend those liberties all Americans hold so dear but too often take for granted. Many of them may be asked to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that the Queer Theorist can continue to speculate over wine and cheese; so that the Post-Colonialist may never have to wear a uniform, unless it be of his own choosing; so that the Multiculturalist may continue to enjoy a cappuccino in Padua, some Bordeaux in Paris, or a mate in Patagonia; and to ensure that no one ever deny the Feminist her First Amendment right to label them “fascists".


The world is an unjust place. Less so now under an American hegemony, but even with the best intentions and the best plans, injustice will continue to exist. It's one of the quirks of humanity.

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