Letters to the Editor

Letter: ROTC should not have campus presence

By
Monday, February 9, 2015

To the Editor:

I appreciate and agree with Herald Opinions Columnist Peter Makhlouf’s ’16 strong opposition to the Brown faculty’s approval of a resolution to establish partnerships with Navy and Air Force ROTC units at Holy Cross.

There is, as he says, an admirable tradition of anti-war and anti-military organizing on the Brown campus. This tradition made a difference in 2011, when the Brown Coalition Against Special Privileges for ROTC exerted effective pressure against the push to overturn the 1969 policy of University neutrality regarding ROTC. That 1969 policy was substantially reaffirmed in the Report of the Committee on the ROTC issued in June 2011. 

Whatever our individual views on the history of U.S. military intervention and current policy may be, we should oppose giving the military an institutional presence at Brown. Such a presence compromises any university’s ability to function as a source of independent critical research and teaching. There are ways of supporting students interested in the military, and of supporting veterans who want to study here, without giving the Pentagon a permanent formal role in our academic programs.

William Keach

Professor of English

Feb. 9

  • BrownStudent

    Now see this is how adults speak. If only Brown students spoke like this and not like Makhlouf.

    • renegadesix

      Adults advocate discrimination? Really?

  • ’09

    “ROTC students attend college like other students, but also receive basic military training and officer training for their chosen branch of service through the ROTC unit at or nearby the college. The students participate in regular drills during the school year, and extended training activities during the summer. Some of the summer training that is offered to cadets in the Army ROTC program are: Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain Warfare, WHINSEC, and other related schools.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_Officers'_Training_Corps

    Yep, if we allowed that, we’d be only one step from moving Brown University to inside the pentagon.

  • Reality Check

    Whatever our individual views on the history of U.S. military intervention and current policy may be, we should oppose giving the military an institutional presence at Brown. Such a presence compromises any university’s ability to function as a source of independent critical research and teaching. There

    Their presence does, but I bet their money doesn’t- is that about right?

    Brown students and professors love divestment. Let’s try this- the US government should divest from Brown. We’ll find out pretty quickly how independent Brown is then.

  • LiuD

    Makhlouf, you are a disgrace… the very people you vilify are those who sacrifice their lives to defend your right to spew your idiocy. You are proof positive, the once great Ivy League Universities of America are producing nothing more than Kool-Aid drinking mindless Marxist-robots utterly incapable of coherent intelligent thought.

  • DanielTourtillott

    Brown is a terrible liberal hell hole. Evidence ^^^

  • roccolore

    Fascist Democrats like William Keach hate America, hate freedom, hate our troops.

  • Drakken

    When ever I read stupid sh*t like this from a brain dead liberal progressive, I am really starting to warm up to Robert Heinlein’s idea that only those of military service should be citizens, because it is obvious that this pillar of the community would rather live on his knees than to offend anyone. Any one who sends their kids to this re-education camp is either brain dead or has money to burn, for I would never hire any of these useful idiots.

  • renegadesix

    Wait, let me get this straight, EXCLUDING a voice from a conversation enhances a university’s “ability to function as a source of independent critical research and teaching.” I guess this is why Keach teaches English and not Logic.

    • what?

      And have you taken a course in logic? What you just did is called a straw man fallacy. You mis-represented Keach as saying we should exclude the voice of the military when in fact he said that we should not give them an “institutional presence”. I assume you know what that means? Or are you arguing that if you don’t allow an entity to have an influence over your policies, then that hinders independent critical research and teaching??

      • renegadesix

        Yes, as a matter of fact I have and that is NOT an example of a straw man fallacy. How do you have a voice without an institutional presence when the other side has one? The anti-military types have an institutional presence, the pro-military do not. And somehow you think that’s giving the pro side a voice?

        If you took a course on logic you might want to get your money back.

  • Photo Dude

    This is an interesting article. Mr. Keach is certainly enjoying
    the privilege of exercising his First Amendment right to free speach. While
    Keach presents his argument for why Brown University should not have and ROTC
    program — He is being protected and defendend by thousands of ROTC that are
    graduates of 275 univesities and colleges that do not share his myopic view.
    Colleges and Universities that support the ROTC program have, are and will
    continue to produce strong, free thinking leaders that go on to do incredible
    things for this country. Mr. Keach, does the name General Colin Powell ring a
    bell? He is an ROTC graduate that went on to be the Chief of Staff, Army, The
    National Security Advisor to the POTUS, and Secretary of State. It is a good thing the ROTC’s presence at the City College of New York, did not compromise the University’s ability to graduate and commission an independent, analytical free thinker that had an
    incredible capacity for research and teaching young officers. If Brown University is threatened by ROTC’s presence maybe it is not ROTC that should be routinely reviewed by the commitment of the Educators who feel threatened. (By the way, Powell is only on of a long line of ROTC graduates that went on to do great things for this country.)

  • David Porter

    By supporting a statement that called all military members (or the ROTC as the writer, for whatever reason, decided was as good a stand-in for the military itself) criminals, is that not libel? Let’s face it, not a single person in the ROTC is in the military, nor do they have any say in military nor government activities. Even if you believe the military to be a criminal organization, ROTC is just a college fraternity (whose members are probably LESS likely to commit actual crimes than a real fraternity). Is demanding the ban on a group based on perceived wrong-doing not the same failure of logic that leads to racism?

    ROTC has never forced anyone to join its ranks, and since the draft ended many decades back neither has the US military, therefore banning the ROTC feels like a logical fallacy to me. You don’t agree with something so you can’t allow ANYONE to even have the opportunity to agree with it.

  • Thomas Cox

    “Such a presence compromises any university’s ability to function as a source of independent critical research and teaching.”

    Independent critical research and teaching? The only thing wrong about American Universities are that they represent primarily one-sided liberal veins of thought. Universities should be comprised of professors and instructors from all walks of life, only then will you have truly “independent critical research and teaching.” How can you have anything “independent” when predominantly only one “side” is represented? Especially in today’s society when everyone is part of an agenda, left, right or center? I look at arguments now trying to determine which “side” the author represents.

    We’ve lost the bead on anything “independent” now as our American discourse runs Republican or Democrat, people of color versus white, gay versus straight…basically me versus you!!!

    Brown students have an opportunity to affect the military from the inside…Not all of us are ultra right-wing conservatives and the military should represent the people…creation of military strategy and policy should consist of views from left, right, and center. Prosecution of our country’s “policy by other means” should be managed by people of all views. I’m sure that more representation from all sides would ensure use of military force as a truly, “last resort” where it belongs.

    The author of this editorial is obviously from a liberal background, I’d hate to be in his class as I’m sure I would be forced to pander to his views…I prefer competing views and competing discussions…that is the basis of critical thought, professor…

  • BustedUpGrunt

    ROTC won’t militarize our campuses or threaten their alleged culture of tolerance.
    ROTC on campuses will instead liberalize our military in the long run. Intelligent Brown students lock their doors, and also realize a nation needs to be protected. A military force must be a cross-section of the same society that it protects, left-right-center-rich-poor, so when elected officials ponder the decision to go to war, everyone in our society has a vested interest.
    The wave of “blank checks” for recent past conflicts clearly shows that liberal patriotic thought, borne of independent critical research is clearly needed within military leadership ranks. That sort of vision and agent for change will certainly will not come from a lower-middle class HS grad enlistee who has no other alternatives. Acting from within to make necessary changes IS a duty of all who benefit from the security a military provides; all else is outside, uninformed sniveling. “It’s too hard….I’m scared….It’s inconvenient, etc” are self-serving, irresponsible clichés in today’s dangerous, challenging world, especially when coming from the so-called future elite of our nation best suited to effect change.
    Security for all isn’t an entitlement, it must be earned by all.

  • An actual Cadet

    Being a cadet at an equally prestigious University, I can tell you there is nothing to fear about having ROTC active on your campus. Many of my fellow cadets are some of the most liberal and open minded people I know and the ROTC program itself has almost 0 influence on my university in general. This article makes me very disappointed in the Brown Daily Herald not only because it is poorly written but because the ramblings of the author are so non sensical and show a complete lack of understanding concerning ROTC and its role on campus. My advice to the author is that he do a little more research, maybe try and meet a cadet or two, and dislodge his head from the upper cavities of his rectum. Thanks…

  • hansumtoad

    Just wait till ISIS shows up on campus. There will be a trained ex-military individulal who will willingly put themselves in Harm’s Way.

    Where will your rhetoric be then?

  • Army Alum

    I love these comments! I didn’t think you could use “admirable” and “anti-military” in the same sentence any more. Interesting. Professor Keach and Mr. Makhlouf, thank you for providing such inflammatory comments to stir up such a spirited discussion. This is exactly the type of discourse we should have at our elite universities. This is where you build a solid foundation upon which you will later build your real education. Incidentally, your REAL education is what you get when you enter the REAL world, away from “independent critical research.” So for a real education on this topic, Mr. Makhlouf, get out there in the real world and see for yourself. Seriously. Book yourself a trip. You can start in Monrovia, Liberia in the Ebola camps then swing through Nigeria to meet with those displaced by Boko Haram. Drop in on Northern Iraq and Syria then swing through Afghanistan. Go see the real US military for yourself, good or bad, make up your own mind. But pack some body armor and a helmet, because on the other side of democracy’s fence, it can get a little chippy! Have fun! Take lots of photos and then write a follow up piece. Bet if you ask nicely, you can get the university to pay for it. If not, I’d be happy to chip in.
    — Brown Medical School Alumnus, proudly serving in the Army, 20 years and counting.

  • DoYouEvenBrown

    “Such a presence compromises any university’s ability to function as a source of independent critical research and teaching”

    The mission of Brown University is “to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation”

    The mission of Brown is not to be an institution of “independent critical research and teaching”. Its mission is to produce holistic graduates that are free form thinkers, lovers and preservers of knowledge, IN A FREE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY.

    An ROTC unit does not train trigger pulling killers. Its mission is to inculcate the values of leadership desirable in future officers. The ability to have the freedom to inquire what it means to be a military leader and give civilian students that are self proclaimed pacifists the opportunity to LEARN more about something they are uncomfortable with accomplishes that mission of encouraging graduates to pursue and preserve new knowledge in a free spirit of inquiry. When you breakdown or even uphold your established preconceived notions about an establishment you LEARN something new. You gain and pursue knowledge.

    Deliberately holding out on providing students that opportunity is not only closed minded, but it robs students any opportunity to explore something new simply because it’s uncomfortable. Refusing to explore something new because you’re afraid of the consequences of introducing an opportunity for more knowledge because you dont like how it tastes is not only cowardly, but it fails to accomplish the mission of Brown University.

  • Marcus

    Let’s speak in common English so that these mental handicaps deluging the commentary section can grasp what Makhlouf is saying. We can translate from well written English into gutter trash dialect for commentators like LiuD etc. Army Alum seems more genuine but suffers from the same reflexive syndrome that founding father Madison and others would abhor: reflexive trust and sympathy for a standing military. What is worse is that these sort of commentators forget that the involvement of industry and lobbied politicians are modern catalyzers in the declaration of war in far off third world nations that end up retrogressing due to the war that is imposed upon them by a mightier power.
    Some commentators give the example of ISIS in the most juvenile fashion, indicating that at times war is pertinent to deal with these zealots. Yet they forget that under the secular dictator Saddam that we empowered to kill with a vengeance in the thousands upon thousands of Iranians when they removed our stooge (the Shah) – there were Christians in the Iraqi government, Shiites involved in the government and intermarrying sunnis pre Gulf War 1, etc. The Kurdish problem hearkens back to the British dividing lines leaving a lasting problem. Yet with jingoism and military worship in hand we assaulted a nation who recieved their chemical weapon stocks from us and our allies and then gleefully called them barbaric when ethnic/sect driven infighting occurred in a predictable fashion after we destroyed and reorganized their society. Ironically, we handed Iran a shiitecentric Iraq and then acted confused when the shiite government marginalized sunnis and even subjected them to death squads. Saudi likely threw in their hat and armed the nascent ISIS to counter the mess we created in strengthening Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah. This in turn led to the creation of ISIS and lack of stability in the Levant.
    Michael Scheuer of the CIA Unit that was tasked to hunt Bin Ladin wrote in Imperial Hubris that even the CIA recognized that it IS NOT who we are, our freedoms, or the fact that Miley can grind on a grown man’s crotch that motivates these people. Subsequent Arizona State University studies that analyzed 2000 pieces of extremist propaganda across 2 decades noted that it was not the supposed offensive or aggressive verses of the Koran that were cited by these insurgents in their propaganda but rather defensive doctrine verses. For instance the oft sided verse of the sword was cited only 3 times in the whole compendium.
    It is easy to assign the term “barbarian” to brown people and to try and generate history that makes it seem as if only Muslims have ever fought wars of oppression etc. and forget the decades of horrible wars and beheadings that occurred in Europe as they went through the doldrums of secularization and war that persisted even into the modern era in the form of Sinn Fein. And it is just as easy to lionize and ignore the crimes committed by our own military members because this is the narrative since the loss in Vietnam so as to ensure that the public cannot easily criticize these lunges of imperial hubris that our interventionist politicians take.
    I agree that there are many wholesome and good hearted members of the American military and a great many of them would likely prefer to defend the homeland and understand that the likelihood of dying from a single terrorist event is far less than even getting in a car crash. They likely know that America’s insurgent adversaries purposefully lure us into wars of attrition and understand the foolish anti Madisonian militarism that has taken hold of the public.
    What I would say is that we all have to ask ourselves, if we believe in a higher moral law or the concept of a Godhead of some sort: Does one answer to a man in a suit and boots or to that higher morality? That is, if McChrystal or Petreus (who have now been proven to have been too busy pleasuring their peckers and pocket books while soldier-children perished) orders one to kill or invade a nation and it comes down to murdering a man, woman, or child under the pretense of “thats the price of freedom” or “just following orders” … can one face God or if one is a secular atheist humanist (his own higher moral compass) and say that “they were just following orders” in Panjwai or in terms of what was done at Haditha or to Abeer Hamza? Why is it that our military member psychos get diagnosed with PTSD but a boy in the hills of Afghanistan who believes he is defending his land from invaders gets labelled as being a barbarian?
    There is a middle ground here and it doesnt involve excluding the military but it also doesnt involve a glowing unapologetic diefication that creates a false jingoistic sense of pride in them either. A man sniping Iraqis who were defending their homeland is not “saving my freedoms”… that honor belonged to General Washington and his comrades and the subsequent generations of American Firsters like Charles Lindbergh, Michael Scheuer, and Ron Paul.

  • Steel Man

    Brown and its student are like the immunization freeloaders who refuse to vaccinate their children. Let someone else’s children protect us from ISIS and Al Qaeda. Bizarre indeed that an ISIS propagandist is more welcome at Brown than loyal Americans.

  • If is because of brave Men and Woman of the Military Peter Makhlouf has the RIGHT to publish his article.