- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2006

“Bull-dog, Bull-dog Bow wow wow, Eli Yale.” This Yale Fight song was written by Cole Porter to capture the fighting spirit of a great university. Soon after hearing that cheer on the playing fields of Yale, the sons of Eli were flying, and fighting in the French Sky. A headline from the Yale Alumni Magazine sums it up perfectly: “Flight to Glory:” “In 1916, an elite group of Yale undergraduates decided to try the new sport of motorized flight. A year later they were leaders of the U.S. airborne military — flying, fighting and dying in the Great War.”

The First Yale Unit as they were known became the nucleus upon which the current U.S. Navy’s Reserve Air Units were built. In combat they excelled, and in peace and war again they led.

David Ingalls, was the first and only Navy Ace (five confirmed kills) of World War I and eventually served was assistant Navy secretary. During World War II, Artemous Gates, another combat pilot, was assistant secretary of the Navy for aviation. Another Yale pilot, Robert Levett, in World War II was assistant secretary of war for aviation and was President Truman’s defense secretary during the Korean War. Between the world wars, another Yale Unit pilot, Juan Tripp, founded Pan Am.

There is no doubt Navy fighter pilots, those men and woman, flying off carriers bombing the Taliban in Afghanistan as you read this, owe those Yale pilots a great debt of gratitude. The First Yale Unit got it so right in the beginning, and created a powerful legacy.

The elder President Bush interrupted his studies to become the youngest Navy Reserve Pilot in World War II and after the war graduated from Yale. All those men were very, very privileged and they risked it all to defend our nation.

Now it seems Yale is in a Cole Porter “delovely” phase as Sayed Rahmatallah Hashemi, the Taliban former deputy foreign secretary, begins studying in New Haven. Sayed worked with Osama bin Laden and, thanks to good reporting in the Australian, we find Mr. Hashemi’s reflection on his work with the Taliban: “We were also victims of September 11.” I do not think my fellow New Yorkers will buy his spin.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, some Yale students, Hillary Rodham included, helped the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trial of several Black Panthers accused of murdering an informant. In those days, America’s progressive intelligentsia were in a period captured by Tom Wolfe’s wonderful phrase “Radical Chic.” However, compared to the Taliban, the Panthers were a Cub Scout Troop and unfortunately for Mr. Hashemi he may not be invited to make the same social circuit so fashionable in those years of tie-dye, lava lamps and bell-bottoms.

For example, it would be so gouche and uncomfortable at a wine and cheese party on the Upper West Side of New York for Sayed to mention the Taliban believed all Jews should be killed along with their fellow Christians. Or insisting radical feminists wear burqas and be whipped for bad behavior.

Perhaps Sayed would like to celebrate Gay Liberation in the Village. But if his thugs were in charge, homosexuals would be stoned to death. Maybe a Circle Line Tour of Manhattan would be in order. But be careful. His Taliban buddies would blow up the Statue of Liberty, thus getting a two-fer: destroying a graven idol of freedom in the form of a woman, no less.

So what’s poor Mr. Talibani to do? Why retreat to the ultimate touchstone cliche of the modern elitist university, moral relativism. While a student at Yale, he states, “People must be told that things are not black and white.” Ah yes, the old nuance of everything as a different shade of gray.

I am afraid Mr. Talabani is a direct insult to the legacy of the First Yale Unit who, when their flying days were over, led the country against pure evil — Nazi Germany. Some things are black and white and the Taliban were and are evil. Aim well, Navy pilots.

Ed Timperlake is a carrier-qualified naval aviator who served as a Marine fighter pilot on both active duty and in the reserves.

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