The Magazine

San Francisco to Army: Drop Dead

The perils of the counter recruitment movement.

Nov 28, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 11 • By STANLEY KURTZ
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The No Child Left Behind Act, you see, not only punishes schools that ban recruiters, it also authorizes schools to provide recruiters with student contact information. Students can opt to keep their information off of the contact list, however, and the counter-recruiters are trying to ensure that they do. While all schools provide students and their parents with opt-out forms, counter-recruiters are trying to get schools to give those forms more prominence, or even to bundle them with other forms that have to be filled out and returned.

And outright bans on military recruitment may still be achievable. The counter recruitment movement is anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, a federal law that withholds federal funds from universities that ban military recruiters. If the Court overturns Solomon, legal challenges to the recruitment provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act are sure to follow. That would mean the introduction of "College, Not Combat" measures in left-leaning cities and towns nationally. And this time the recruitment bans would be binding, not merely symbolic. Certainly San Francisco would restore the ban on recruitment that was undone by No Child Left Behind.

Universities like to portray their opposition to the Solomon Amendment as part of a principled defense of gay rights. Supposedly, it would violate universities' nondiscrimination policies to allow the military--with its "don't ask, don't tell" policy--on campus. But the counter recruitment movement's pacifist and antiwar focus makes it clear that gay rights is just cover for a broader hostility to the military and to U.S. foreign policy. Recruiters and ROTC chapters have been banned from some of our finest campuses since Vietnam. The counter recruitment movement is now attempting to export that university ethos to the high school level and to the country at large. It is a serious attack on fundamental American notions about citizenship and deserves a more serious response from elected officials than it has received.

Stanley Kurtz is a fellow at the Hudson Institute.