Friday, December 31, 2010

The depths of moral equivalence

Colman McCarthy is a pacifist. That is fine. I can respect someone of deeply held beliefs who sticks to those beliefs no matter how unpopular that may make him at any particular time.

However, in a column yesterday opposing bringing ROTC back to campuses that have kept it out in protest over Don't Ask Don't Tell, he strikes such an appalling note of moral equivalence that attention must be paid.
To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.
You can be opposed to the armies that guarantee those rights of freedom of speech and press that have given him the privilege of earning a living where he can espouse his far lefty ideas such as there should be departments in peace studies to join those departments in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies that he so admires, but don't draw a moral equivalence between those who join the American army and those who join the Taliban. American soldiers put their lives on the line fighting to uphold the ideals and interests if this country. Taliban soldiers fight to deny rights to those very women and gays and lesbians McCarthy wants American students to be studying. Part of their agenda is killing or maiming those who don't believe in their particularly repressive view of Islam and then destroying centuries old symbols of those beliefs. Does McCarthy really respect their loyalty to those principles in equal measure to the American soldier who fights to protect the victims of Taliban violence? Is that where his pacifism and moral equivalence takes him? If so, he should be ashamed.