Constitutionally, the US military is subservient to civilian dictates. One controversial civilian policy, originating during the Clinton administration, is known colloquially as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Basically, it means that if you are a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman carnally interested in others of your own sex; stay in the closet. The wisdom and fairness of this may be open to debate but, in practice, the military follows the letter of this policy only when some gay soldier really gets in their face.
Many public universities object to this policy so strenuously as to deny military recruiters access to their campuses. They do so despite the Solomon Amendment which requires educational institutions accepting federal money to permit such access. The question of whether universities, and one assumes all public educational institutions, can defy this law is now before the Supreme Court.
Let us note here that if you are in the US military and if you are interested in a member of the opposite sex, but of different rank; the military also requires you to stay in the closet. Discrimination is indiscriminate.
Let us also note that whatever its sexual preference profile, we have a military consisting entirely of volunteers. Homosexuals in the military were not forced to enlist, nor is anyone being press-ganged now.
Interference with the free choice of prospective volunteers would not normally seem to fall within the purview of an education vendor funded by students and especially by taxpayers. We would not accept similar interference from any other peddlars, and most especially not from any that advertise the freedom of ideas as their fundamental defense.
Harvard, for example, does accept federal subsidy. Nonetheless, they assert a right to ban military recruiters, ostensibly because they do not like the way civilians require the military to treat homosexuals.
Since no one is proposing overturning civilian control of the military, the only honorable solution for Harvard would be to refuse federal money. A few freedom loving institutions, like Hillsdale College, have chosen this route. Not that Hillsdale uses their intellectual liberty to ban recruiters; they just don’t want to have control of their students’ education turned over to government. In other words, if Hillsdale did decide to exclude military recruitment from their campus they would be entirely and unquestionably within their rights. Unlike Harvard.
There are 3 main themes here. 1- Large amounts of money from a government. 2- Strings are attached. 3- Distaste for discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.
Given that synopsis, can you predict what Harvard would do if it were offered, say, $20 million by an autocratic, virulently homophobic, fundamentally misogynist, rabidly religious fundamentalist government official?
I won’t keep you in suspense. Harvard is using the money to establish the chair of “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life. “
We can have high confidence that such ideas as asserting academic freedom of thought by naming it the “Simon Wiesenthal Chair of Comparative Atrocity” were not considered.
Prince Alwaleed’s country does not allow women to drive, much less vote. It gives a wink and a nod to collapsing a wall on homosexuals as the appropriate treatment. It massively funds anti-American mosques, and its promotion of Wahhabism is how we came to have 14 Saudi Arabian citizens out of 19 9/11 terrorists.
Prince Alwaleed is that same oil-enriched person who offered to donate $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund, simultaneously demanding that America “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.” Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned the Prince down. Rudy 1, Harvard 0.
Harvard can accept anyone’s money – but when it comes to Prince Alwaleed’s millions or taxpayer’s billions –the Prince will end up with a building named after him and the Marines won’t be allowed into it.
TOTH to OpinionJournal.