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Columbia's Loss By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Thursday, September 27, 2007


The Iranian president's welcome to Columbia - following a self-serving whine by the university's president - reflected brainless activism, not academic freedom.

It was the professoriate imitating Hollywood's embrace of terrorists.

We hear a great deal about the dumbing down of students, but the real problem has been the dumbing down of the teaching class.

Yes, there's been a media fuss over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's propaganda opportunity. But that just makes the faculty-lounge "heroes" feel even more self-righteous. Anyway, post-modern professors seek publicity, not knowledge.

And we give it to the weasels.

Meanwhile, Columbia denies our military's ROTC programs the chance to recruit and teach on campus - ostensibly because of the Congress-approved "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Of course, it's just a cultural issue when Ahmadinejad executes homosexuals (although, according to him, there aren't any in Iran).

The ban on ROTC isn't really about gay rights, though. The professors and student-activists behind it believe they're punishing the wicked, wicked Pentagon. Well, let me break the truth to Professor Bunkum: The military doesn't need Ivy League recruits. We're doing just fine without them, thanks.

The victims of the ban are students - who are denied one of the greatest career opportunities our country has to offer. Certainly, not every weenie scribbling a master's thesis on "Cold War-era gender oppression in Archie comics" is meant for a military career. But for the right student the chance to serve would be, literally, the chance of a lifetime.

For the sake of argument, let's set aside all talk of the rewards of serving a higher cause. Selfishly, a military career is an incredible chance for the right individual. My military friends and I can attest that no one ever retired from the Army thinking, Gee, I wish I'd spent my life selling time-shares in Orlando.

The richness of a career in uniform came home to me again a few weeks ago, when I had dinner with a just-retired Army buddy, Col. Tom Wilhem. We were celebrating: He'd recently bought his family their first it's-really-ours home near Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. (Worst of all, from the counter-culture perspective, Tom's family is intact, loving and happy.)

In his three decades of service, Tom had ridden ponies across the steppes and slept in Mongol yurts. He'd bow-hunted big game around the world, convinced the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to entertain his troops in the Yugoslav ruins - and been chased through the mountains by a Russian helicopter gunship.

As we sat and reminisced, we hooted over the adventures of our other comrades - friends closer than any to be made in the civilian world. We recalled being the first Americans ever to touch remote spots of the globe. Between the two of us, we'd seen a hundred countries, watched multiple wars and helped shape national policies behind the scenes.

We'd stood on different sides of the Khyber Pass and gone on secret counter-drug operations, wandered through the African bush, penetrated fundamentalist-run refugee camps and survived more crises than Lindsay Lohan. Tom rode his antique motorcycle through tribal gun-battles. I'd dodged cobras while jogging in the Golden Triangle.

Talking with Tom conjured the scene in "Blade Runner" when the android played by Rutger Hauer drags Harrison Ford back up to the roof and, before expiring, tries to communicate the wonders he's seen: exploding galaxies and the death of worlds.

Tom and I may not have seen galaxies disintegrate, but we did see empires collapse, humanity torn asunder and the human condition far removed from the shopping mall. Along the way, we encountered realms of beauty far beyond any tourist's itinerary.

Graduates of Columbia will never know what they missed. My pals and I laugh about identity-crisis adults who pay to go on Outward Bound trips. The Army paid us to go.

Meanwhile, the punk egotism poisoning Ivy League faculties prevents even those students who wouldn't measure up to military standards from learning about the richness of the United States beyond the Peter Pan world of the campus. Ahmadinejad may be a Holocaust-denier, but Columbia's faculty denies our nation's history, determined to cast America as the villain.

The profs don't just despise our military - they despise you.

Well, the Army will go on, whether or not young men and women from Columbia, Harvard or Yale sign up to serve. But, thanks to hypocritical professors who want to "protect" them (are students enrolled at Columbia unable to think for themselves?), the Ivy grads will miss a chance to count something other than extra-marital affairs as great adventures.

Back in the 1960s, higher education stopped being about the students and became a theater for the Freudian insecurities of PhDs. In the '70s, their hysterics led to numerous campuses booting out ROTC programs.

The price paid by our military? We now have the best motivated, most professional and best educated armed forces in our history.

The result for the students? President Ahmadinejad - Israel-hater, religious fanatic and sponsor of terror - commands the stage at Columbia, where our veterans are unwelcome.

Who really loses?


Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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