Via Victor Davis Hanson and Jonah Goldberg (who both do a good job of defending what I would call basic sanity), I found myself drawn to a trainwreck of a piece in the Washington Post by a man named Colman McCarthy. A former Post columnist, he “directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools.”

As the piece is titled ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn’t be on campus. I expected to see confirmation of what I said here — that DADT was just a pretext, and in the wake of its repeal the left would continue to agitate against ROTC. 

McCarthy, however, adds a new wrinkle. While he is of course against ROTC, he slips a very clever (if very wrong) argument into the piece, which I think may very well emerge as the dominant view among leftist academicians. 

If ROTC is to be allowed, there must an accompanying demand for fully-funded “Peace Studies” programs:

…schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

They can stand with Martin Luther King Jr. and his view of America’s penchant for war-making: “This madness must cease,” he said from a pulpit in April 1967. Even well short of the pacifist positions, they can argue the impracticality of maintaining a military that has helped drive this country into record depths of debt. The defense budget has more than doubled since 2000, to over $700 billion. They can align themselves with colleges such as Hobart, Earlham, Goshen, Guilford, Hampshire, George Fox and a long list of others that teach alternatives to violence. Serve your country after college, these schools say, but consider the Peace Corps as well as the Marine Corps.

Will the Ivies have the courage for such stands? I’m doubtful. Only one of the eight Ivy League schools – Cornell – offers a degree in peace studies.

Anyone surprised that the guy is making a pitch to expand what he does as a career? Would it be too harsh of me to call that a conflict of interest? 

The problem is, conditioning a return to ROTC on the addition of Peace Studies programs will be an easy sell to leftie academicians, because it will come conveniently packaged as “being fair to both sides.”

Yet pacifism is at odds with history and common sense. It is not an academic discipline, but simply a nutty idea which self-evidently wrong. You don’t have to be a militarist or a “neocon” to recognize that pacifism stands in stark opposition to the basic human right of self defense. (Even the sainted Martin Luther King Jr. had a gun.) And while I cannot fairly call myself an “Objectivist,” I think Ayn Rand got it right on the silliness of pacifism:

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.

As pacifism involves the negation of the basic human right of self defense, it is one of those things I consider so self-evidently wrong as to be unworthy of debate.

One of the things I have learned in life is that debating with a pacifist is an utterly hopeless waste of time. They truly believe that self defense is wrong. I will never forget eating dinner with a school teacher who astounded me by declaring that the Warsaw Ghetto Jews who fought back were wrong to do so. What amazed me even more was that the woman who told me this was Jewish herself, but of course a dedicated pacifist, who believed that if we all put down our arms and abjure self defense, then there will finally be world peace. Right. I would submit that anyone naive enough to believe in even the possibility of that ever happening should not leave his or her house, and would not be safe inside it if the local thugs discovered that a self-proclaimed helpless fool lived there.

The demand that pacifism be taught as the “alternative” academic discipline to ROTC is about as logical as it would be to say that the home invader and the homeowner he attacks deserve to be treated as two equally worthy “sides.”

I think that any college or university which considers the philosophy of pacifism to be an academic discipline rating a department is best avoided. I think a degree from such a place would be worthless, and paying money for one would only contribute to the higher education bubble.