Repeal the ban on gays in the military, elite universities demanded, and we will recognize the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Of course, repeal passed in December, and the ivied dons have yet to crown our cadets with laurels. That’s because some liberals have discovered a new moral outrage against ROTC: the military’s ban on transgender individuals. The Stanford Students for Queer Liberation is circulating a petition — which has garnered over 120 signatures so far — to keep the group off campus, and the Harvard Trans Task Force is waging a similar campaign. True, Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, has pledged to recognize ROTC, but Stanford remains noncommittal, having appointed a committee to consider recognition. We will make the committee’s job easier: Any further opposition to ROTC would show our elite universities’ true motive: hatred of the military.
The bizarre comments of Gen. George Casey following the 2009 Fort Hood shootings (“as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”) were the first inkling most Americans had that of all the institutions of our society, hardly any is busier in promoting the ethnic/gender preferences and cultural masochism of the “diversity” cult than the U.S. armed forces. An even more astonishing instance of this multiculturalist toadying has just emerged from the Virginia Military Institute, one of our oldest military academies. VMI announced a conference this March under the title “711–2011: East Meets West,” in which: “We celebrate the 1300th anniversary of Tariq ibn Ziyad’s crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar, setting into motion the fusion between two worlds.” The Internet, and presumably VMI’s mailbox, were soon aflame with protests. VMI has now revised the event’s webpage to remove the word “celebrate.” It has also issued an aggrieved, whiny response to the protests, but the conference will apparently proceed anyway. Comments blogger Patrick Poole: “No word if VMI’s World War II commemoration will be entitled ‘Germany meets Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Belgium, France, Norway, The Netherlands and Russia.’”
The Society for Personality and Social Psychology held its annual conference in San Antonio. Attendee Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, began a presentation optimistically titled “The Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology” by asking how many of the 1,000 present in the auditorium considered themselves politically liberal. About 80 percent raised their hands. Centrists and libertarians? Fewer than three dozen hands went up. Conservatives? Just three. As Haidt pointed out, this was somewhat at odds with the commitment to diversity advertised on the society’s website. He proposed an affirmative-action goal: a membership that’s 10 percent conservative by 2020. He also suggested that members broaden their outlooks by subscribing to National Review and reading Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions. We have alerted our staff to brace themselves for a flood of new subscriptions.
One aspect of American exceptionalism in which conservatives take pride is our insistence on retaining traditional units of measure — pounds, gallons, yards — when all other significant nations have fallen to the loathsome metric system. However, this pride rests on an illusion, as pride too often does. Our customary units have in fact been defined in terms of metric units since the second Grover Cleveland administration. The official definition of our treasured pound, for example, is 0.45359237 kg. What is a kilogram, though? It is the mass of a platinum-iridium cylinder kept in a vault in Sèvres, France. Now we hear that this standard kilogram seems to be losing mass. Physicists are struggling to come up with a new standard by counting atoms. Good luck to them, so long as we can be left with our pride, however illusory, and with our familiar pounds and ounces, grains and scruples, pennyweights and hundredweights, and tons both short and long. Oh, and keep your hands off our bushels and acres, too.