DN! on National Week of Campus Resistance

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From Democracy Now!:

Students around the country have launched a national week of campus resistance to mark the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion and high profile counter-recruitment protests are being staged at university campuses around the country.

Check out their interviews with a former marine and recruiter’s assistant who is now speaking out against the military and two people arrested during a protest against military recruiters on university campus.

They also spoke with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) who is backing a bill that would make it easier for parents to block military recruiters from gaining access to their high school-aged children. The bill seeks to amend a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that requires school districts to provide the Pentagon the names, addresses and phone numbers of every student in the school.

One Response to “DN! on National Week of Campus Resistance”

  1. IRR Soldier... Says:

    I heard the DN broadcast this morning and was conflicted on how to respond. On one hand, I was glad to see people standing up for what the believe – on the other hand I was dismayed by the inaccuracies of the three panelists.

    First, Regarding the former “Recruiters Assistant”. There is no such title in the military. This individual was most likely a participant in the 15 day “Hometown Recruiter Assistance Program” where recent graduates from initial entry training are sent home before proceeding to their first assignment. I hardly think that 15 days spent as a new Marine shadowing an enlisted recruiter qualifies as any type of valid perspective to indict all recruiters and provides ZERO perspective to indict marine OSOs (Officer Selection Officers – the guys who go to college career fairs) Is the recruiting system unethical? You bet. Is the Army’s ethical lapses 10x worse than those of the USMC’s? Absolutely. If you want a real “smoking gun”, pose as a prospective enlistee at the Army Recruiting station on 125th St., 181st St. or W.72nd St. All the Army pimps is money – lots of money. To their credit, if they deserve any, the Marines rely on minimal financial coercion. In fact, the USMC spends less than $600 per recruit on enlsitment bonuses while the Army spends upwards of $9,000

    Second, concerning the suspended student. I fundamentally disagree with her characterization of the military as “trying to take advantage of inner city college student.” Nonsense. They [the recruiters] were there primarily to seek a diverse pool of students to enlist for OCS and other officer options. Please reference my below points on this. Again, I fail to see how providing a CCNY OCS graduate with the same rank, authority and respect as a West Pointer or Cornell ROTC graduate is a bad thing. We need more New Yorkers of color and from immigrant backgrounds as leaders in our military – not less!

    I have actually been an officer recruiter for the Army in NYC and left in 2002 to attend Law School. It saddens me to think that I, a registered Green Party member and progressive, might have been blindly protested and called names for trying to increase the ethnic, political and ideological diversity with the Army officer corps – a necessary goal that I fully believe in and “put my money where my mouth is” by actually doing for 4 years after college.

    My other thoughts on the CCNY issue:

    I have a lot of mixed feelings concerning the recent events at CCNY. While I fully support the efforts to provide alternate information about recruiting to H.S. students, I believe that barring/protesting officer recruiters at places like CCNY, Hunter and NYU will have a detrimental effect on diversity within the military officer Corps.

    Like it or not, we are in Iraq, an invasion I vehemently opposed. The majority of this nation is either rapidly pro-war or ambivalent about what is going on. While this is going on, we continue to send young people into harms way through economic conscription (aka. the poverty draft).

    By removing CCNY graduates from pursuing OCS and officer opportunities, we are further ceding the military officer corps to the right-wing crowd. Instead of providing a stream of young, urban officers from diverse backgrounds, we are removing their presence at a time when they are most desperately needed.

    I will make one thing clear, the Army and USMC WILL find people to be Lieutenants but to do so, they will either lower standards or increase the “good ol’ boy” output from places like VMI, the Citadel and West Point.

    The military is overrepresented by urban minorities in its enlisted ranks and underrepresented among officers. Unless you’ve served on active duty as I have, you have no idea how important it is that CCNY grads have the opportunity to lead, teach, coach and mentor others. Having an LT w/ a CCNY degree in command of soldiers from every background imaginable is a good thing. It expands dialogue and opens minds.

    The influence a charismatic young officer has over their charges is unbelievable. I stand firm in my belief that my 4 years as an Army officer was more of a “counslor” or “teach for America” experience than a purely military one. The opportuities to influence and make a difference in a young person’s life are almost limitless. I opened many minds to the idea of pursuing higher education, that all people from Manhattan (like myself) weren’t “commie traitors” and that it is important to view an issue from both sides.

    I am proud of what I did and sent soldiers who never thought they were “college material” to get out of the Army and earn degrees from Syracuse, Rutgers, Wisconsin, UTEP and Columbia. I even tutored some for the SATs.

    In these trying times, we need educated, principled urban junior officers like never before. Ceding the province of national defense to the right-wing “red staters” is NOT the answer. It further alienates those urban enlstees from a feeling that anyone that controls their fate “understands where they come from.” It is very counterproductive to have NYC only represented in the “worker bee ranks”. FYI, about 20% of the Army is officers yet last year, NYC provided over 4,000 enlisted soldiers and less than 50 new officers. This paradigm MUST be changed. Protesting OCS recruiters on a college campus is not the way to achieve your goals.

    My final thought: Focus your passion and energies on H.S. JROTC “trojan horse” recruiting programs and the harassing recruiting tactics used at places like JFK, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and DeWitt Clinton high schools. Those are the kids that need your help.

    College grads serving as officers are NOT being exploited. I fail to understand how a CCNY grad that goes to OCS and gets the same pay, responsibility and authority as a West Pointer or Princeton grad is a bad thing for the Army, nation and New York City.

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