Has San Francisco seceded from the United States? The passage of “Measure I,” dubbed “College not Combat” would seem to say that it has. Apparently, by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, the voters of San Francisco have called for military recruiters to stay out of public high schools and colleges. Ben Johnson, of frontpagemagazine, did a detailed piece on this initiative in July. Here’s a statement of the College not Combat principles.
Although this resolution is non-binding, it is a profound repudiation of the most basic obligations of citizenship. Whatever your views on the Iraq war or the president’s policies, we are all under the protection of the United States military, and we cannot exclude them from our institutions. Fighting for our foreign policy goals in the public arena is one thing. Making it impossible for our military to recruit is another. For an American city to try to block the military from its schools is a symbolic repudiation of citizenship, a form of secession from the country. True, this measure is only symbolic. A legal ban on recruiting would mean the loss of federal funds. But the symbolic statement is not at all trivial, and it needs to be met with an equally powerful symbolic response.
I think congress ought to consider a resolution of censure. We also ought to get comments on this from congressmen and senators from California, not to mention the mayor of San Francisco and the Governor. Our public officials need to sharply repudiate this decision. We need to know whether they are with the United States, or with the voters of San Francisco. At this point, these are beginning to seem like separate entities. But clear statements of repudiation by public figures could help to reassure the country that San Franciscans remain loyal to the United States. Also, following publicity and national discussion, the city should take another vote on this question. It is to be hoped that with more attention and a larger turnout, the voters of San Francisco will themselves repudiate this ill advised measure, thereby re-associating themselves with the United States of America.