- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009


Ivy Leaguers and the military have begun a drive to put ROTC back on campus at Harvard, Yale and Columbia as they try to heal the lingering wounds caused by the antiwar protests of the 1960s that led to the corps’ banishment there.

A recent conference on the Harvard campus brought together about 100 participants from nearly every military branch and several Ivy League schools, from ultraliberal professors to retired admirals. Their goal: closing the ideological crevasse that still separates the military from some Ivy League circles.

“My own education, partially here at Harvard, in the entitlement of an Ivy League institution, gave me an arrogance that I wish had been more challenged while I was here,” Harvard professor Diane Moore said.

A self-described “lesbian feminist, economically privileged, pacifist-leaning Harvard professor,” Ms. Moore said she clashed often with her father, a conservative World War II veteran and former high school football star.

“My father and I embody the tensions that this conference seeks to explore and all that is implied in the designations ‘Ivy’ and ‘military,’ ” said Ms. Moore, an opening panelist at “Ivies and Military Toward Reconciliation.”

After decades of epochal battles, Ms. Moore said, she finally grew to appreciate her father’s sensibilities and the selfless work ethic he brought to raising his family.

“As a professor and someone who finally came around to understand the nature of the fact that my privileges to be at a place like this are all due to my father’s sacrifices … we have to learn better how to engage our differences,” said Ms. Moore.

Lukas Filler, a former Navy pilot who flew combat missions ranging from Bosnia to Baghdad and is now a second-year student at the Harvard Divinity School, said getting the two sides together will help them to understand the other’s point of view.

“Military have real-life experiences, which give them a unique appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities found in modern conflicts, while academics/intellectuals have deep knowledge of specific subject areas that military may not,” Mr. Filler said.

Raz Mason said she began straddling the realms of armed conflict and pastoral care after working to prevent domestic violence and seeing what she described as widespread, unresolved societal trauma. This interest in resolving trauma among war veterans led her to later embed for several months with Seattle University’s ROTC unit.

“I was tremendously impressed with the moral and ethical questions these young soon-to-be-officers raised among themselves,” said Ms. Mason. “I also was quite impressed with the military’s leadership and mentoring training models, even as I was concerned about the life-and-death subject matter.”

Ms. Mason, a Unitarian Universalist pastor-in-training, received her commission as a Navy chaplain and was sworn in as a naval officer at the reconciliation conference.

“[T]here are actually a number of initiatives in the military that might be considered progressive and attractive to those in the academy” she said, pointing to “more emphasis on understanding other cultures and faiths - understanding them on their own terms, not just so that we can manipulate situations to our desired ends - and an emphasis on stability and reconstruction.”

Noticeably absent from the reconciliation conference were members of the Harvard administration, who have the final say in allowing ROTC recruiters back on campus.

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