- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

On Tuesday, 100 University of California Santa Cruz students tested — perhaps even vindicated — the antiwar left’s new “counter recruitment” tactics. Protesters mobbed a school job fair to block Army and National Guard recruiters from interested candidates, brandishing expletive-laden anti-military placards. They got so rowdy that, within an hour, the mob persuaded the recruiters to leave in order to avoid a confrontation.

“The situation had degraded to the point where there was a possibility of injury to either a student or law enforcement officer,” one recruiter told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We certainly didn’t want that to happen.” So they left.

Endangering public safety could well be the new, ugly face of hard-left antiwar activism. Momentum has been building for months in this direction. In November, San Francisco voters approved a symbolic “College, Not Combat” measure that bars military recruiters from high schools. It could not go into effect in part because the No Child Left Behind Act strips federal funds from schools that ban recruiters, but its passage told recruiters that they were not to be supported or even tolerated.

The Santa Cruz “counter recruitment” is the direct result of such thinking, and there is considerable glee in some sordid quarters the prospect of strangling military recruiting. As one zealous activist put it to the Hudson Institute’s Stanley Kurtz last fall, “When the soldiers are really hurting because there are no new recruits, then we’re getting somewhere.” Said another to the San Francisco newspaper this week: “We’re saying it’s not OK to recruit on high school campuses, it’s not OK to recruit on university campuses. In order to stop the war, you have to make it more difficult to wage war.”

This was the last option of the protesters. The resounding Supreme Court decision to uphold the Solomon Amendment last month stripped antiwar protests and their sympathizers in college administrations of the ability to ban the military. Forced to choose between federal funding and the principles they supposedly uphold, the schools buckled — meaning that activists would have to find other ways to press their narrow agenda.

“Counter recruitment” need not be a problem elsewhere. Police authorities must study the tactic to ensure that both recruiting and free expression survive on campus. This looks to be the beginning of a new chapter in the farcical tale of the antiwar left.

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