Jag must go: Time for civil disobedience

BY LINDSAY HARRISON

The U.S. military ought to change its slogan. What it really means is: “Be all that you can be, unless you’re being gay.” After the military threatened the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding unless Harvard Law School permitted the military to interview through OCS, Dean Clark was forced to allow the employer on campus despite its formal policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Dean Clark did his part, writing a strongly worded letter in support of gay students and opposed to military discrimination. Students should now protest the military’s assault on Harvard Law School’s policy of non-discrimination by launching an assault of our own.

The military needs to learn that it cannot force our law school to act as a conveyer belt for the military’s own homophobia. The best way we can teach the military this lesson is by filling every interview slot with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. This strategy can best accomplish the twin goals of protesting the miltiary’s policy of discrimination and persuading the military not to engage in strong-arm tactics to advance discriminatory ends.

First, by filling each slot with individuals that are qualified but for their sexual orientation, we can demonstrate to the military that discrimination against gay and lesbian students is only causing the military harm. Imagine the interviewer’s response to the plethora of otherwise qualified candidates: “Well, you have great grades and you’re on the law review, but I see here that you are a homosexual.” While the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from combat is, in my opinion, irrational, the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from JAG is plain absurd. By marching in intelligent, capable, gay individuals, one after another, we can demonstrate to the military that they are losing out by engaging in discrimination.

Second, by filling each interview slot with gay and lesbian students, we can persuade the military to go away. Imagine hours and hours of wasted time spent interviewing otherwise qualified candidates. The recruiters sent to interview on campus will quickly realize that doing interviewing through OCS will not help fill their quotas for new recruits, and they will leave.

Opponents of this strategy argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unfair to students who really wish to become part of JAG. First, this argument ignores the possibility that gay and lesbian students really wish to sign up. Unfortunately, joining the armed forces is not an option for these students, but that does not mean that they should be deprived the opportunity to interview. Second, this argument ignores the ease with which anyone in this country may contact a military recruiter. Army JAG, Navy JAG, and Air Force JAG each has a website with detailed instructions on how to sign up. In the same way that students wishing to work in other public interest fields must take the initiative to obtain interviews on their own, students wishing to join the military may contact JAG and obtain an interview. The Veterans Association has already indicated a willingness to assist the military in conducting informal recruiting on campus, just as they have done in years past.

Opponents of this strategy also argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the men and women who honor us with their military service. First, this argument contains a flawed understanding of the meaning of patriotism. Patriotism does not involve blind devotion to the military and support of every military act and policy. True patriotism involves love of our country and of the principles we hold dear — namely, equality and liberty. Attempting to demonstrate to the military that it should not discriminate is not unpatriotic. Second, the argument that filling the slots with gay students is unpatriotic is itself unpatriotic. It essentially tells gay and lesbian students that they should not attempt to sign up to serve. Again, this argument ignores the fact that many patriotic gay and lesbian students are denied the opportunity to enlist. Gay men and lesbians are thankful that we have a military and are thankful to those who serve. We only wish that we too could join their ranks. By filling up all the interview slots with gay men and lesbians, we can show the military the error of its ways and attempt to create a world where gay people can be patriots too.

Letters: Gun debates, Nesson, and divesting in Israel

BY

Target shooting club founder urges more gun debates

In a RECORD story last year, Daniel Swanson said he would like to have “a public discussion with the HLS Target Shooting Club.” I would like to have a public discussion with Daniel. That’s what the club is all about. In our first year, we’ve only had one speaker — John Lott, discussing his paper on multiple-victimpublic shootings — but more speakers and debates is always better. We are in full agreement. Daniel wants to discuss accidental shootings — sounds great. I look forward to having that debate, and would enjoy co-sponsoring firearms-related events with interested organizations of any political stripe (especially if they have a bigger budget than we do).But I part company with Daniel when he suggests that “publicly advancing the beliefs” that guns can be used as a “force for good,” as I did in a recent Economist article, is at odds with making a “balanced and constructive contribution” to the gun debate. One can advance the gun debate without everything having to be a debate.

Neither Daniel, nor I, nor the Target Shooting Club, need be neutral, apolitical observers. We’re lawyers. We work within an adversarial system.

Nor does advancing the debate require that we all embrace cost-benefit analysis and compromise. In fact, I suspect that Daniel himself isn’t a compromiser. He starts out calling for “balanced and constructive contribution[s]” to the gun debate and “balancing benefits against risks” — but then calls it “incontrovertible” that child shootings are“unacceptable” and that we should “ensure that those shootings cease.” This is not cost-benefit language — benefits of gun ownership are now noticeably absent. Nor do I demand that language of him. The best debate involves details and listening to the other side, but it also involves passionate commitments and principled positions, which I hope we both have. My rule of thumb: Argue what you believe, whether it’s moderate or hard-line.

Another rule of thumb: Have fun whenever possible, whether it’s “counter-cultural rebellion” or screening movies featuring “regular people using guns as a force for good.” Please attend our debates, but also come to our screening of Red Dawn. And, regardless of your views on gun control, come shooting with us. All are welcome.

— Sasha Volokh, 3L

Alum laments this semester’s lack of Nesson

I was distressed to read in the Washington Post that students at the Law School were to be denied the benefits of Professor Charles Nesson’s pedagogy for this semester. The reports did not make clear why that was so. My experience was that Professor Nesson’s courses were among the most stimulating and thought provoking, and therefore most valuable. I remember well his Constitutional Litigation Workshop seminar, which combined sound academics and real world practice considerations. I have carried what I learned there with me since, as a litigator and law teacher. I hope this hiatus is temporary.

— Mark Kreitman ‘75

Harvard should not divest its Israel investments

I was a member of Harvard’s Investment Advisory Committee and helped to draft Harvard’s policy on investments in South Africa. As you may recall, Harvard did not follow the path of other universities by divesting from South Africa. Instead, we decided to invest in companies that promoted equality of the races in South Africa, and I think that history has vindicated the approach that Harvard adopted.I recently received word that 39 Harvard professors have signed a petition for Harvard to divest from Israel. As with South Africa, I believe that boycotting investments would hurt the situation more than help it. I also believe that it would send the wrong message to the world about Harvard’s stance on terrorism.

Israelis believe that they are fighting for their survival and that their only tentative ally is the U.S. If the U.S. or U.S. companies withdraw their support from Israel, this will only increase Israel’s sense of isolation and desperation. The end result will be that Israelis will have less reason to hope for a peaceful settlement and more reason to turn to military solutions.

As for terrorism, Israel has lost more people on a proportional basis through terrorist bombings than the U.S. lost on 9/11. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. took the commendable position that terrorism was unacceptable under any circumstances and that anyone who supported terrorism was a terrorist. If Harvard now boycotts Israel for its response to terrorist attacks, it will be rewarding terrorists at the expense of their victims.
I, like many Americans and like many Jews, have mixed feelings about Ariel Sharon’s approach in the Middle East. However, I leave for work every morning without any fear that myself or loved ones will fall victim to a suicide bomber during the course of the day. If a neighbor of the U.S. were regularly sending suicide bombers into our country, I have no doubt that U.S. citizens would demand military action until they felt safe to walk the streets. Is it unfair for Israeli families to demand the same?

I, for one, do not know the best course of action to resolve the death spiral that we are experiencing in the Middle East. However, I do know that boycotting investments is the wrong choice for both pragmatic and ethical reasons. During difficult times in South Africa, Harvard demonstrated leadership by adopting a pragmatic and ethical investment strategy. Harvard once again has the opportunity to take a leadership position by not boycotting Israel. Please stand firm against terrorism and denounce the boycott of investments in Israel.

— Ethan Cohen, M.B.A. ‘91

HLS allows military to use OCI

BY MIKE WISER

Responding to a threat by the federal government to withhold $328 million in funds from Harvard University, Dean Robert Clark decided in late August to allow military recruiters to participate in the on campus recruiting process. Clark’s decision reversed a policy that had prevented JAG recruiters from using the Office of Career Services (OCS), because the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits individuals who are openly gay from joining the military, prevented the military from signing the Law School’s non-discrimination pledge.

U-Turn

Dean Clark’s reversal came after a letter from the Air Force in late May said that the Air Force believed the Law School was violating the provisions of the 1996 Solomon Amendment by not allowing military recruiters to participate in on campus interviewing. Under the provisions of the Amendment, all federal funding to a university could be withheld unless “the degree of access by military recruiters is at least equal in quality and scope to that afforded to other employers.” For Harvard University, almost 16 percent of its annual operating budget could be withheld.

While allowing the military to visit the school to recruit at the invitation of the student HLS Veterans Association (HLSVA) had satisfied military recruiters in the past, an Air Force inquiry that began in December of 2001 determined that the Law School was not in compliance with the Solomon Amendment.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in the balance, Clark decided to allow recruiters to use OCS resources and to recruit through its interview process.

“I think the difference is more symbolic than anything else, because the reality was they were recruiting here and recruiting effectively on campus for the last several years,” Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber told the RECORD.

Jason Watkins, president of the HLSVA, also agreed that the change probably would not make much difference for military recruiters. Watkins, who said he was “a results oriented person,” told the RECORD, “I’m not sure how much there is to be gained from official or publicized changes in policy.”

A Difficult Decision

Whether or not the change will make it easier for military recruiters, Weber said that the school’s decision came only after months of agonizing about how to respond. During that process administrators consulted members of Lambda (the gay and lesbian student group) as well as students on the placement committee for input. In the end, the administration finally decided that they would not win in a battle with the Air Force.

“I think we made a judgment that it would not be successful, given the current climate of support for the military. Also we had a sense that maybe that wasn’t the important thing to do. The more important goal is to try and bring about real change,” Clark said.

In an e-mail to students on August 26, Clark explained that, “Our decision to permit military recruiters access to the facilities and services of OCS does not reduce the Law School’s commitment to the goal of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
“Dean Clark really had his back against the wall,” 2L Adam Teicholz, president of Lambda, told the RECORD. Teicholz said that Clark’s letter to the community showed that the school does not accept the military’s recruiting policy.

“The situation must be especially galling to [the] administration regardless of their moral stance, because the military is coming in and using money to force the school to change its rules, violating their prerogative to set HLS’s internal policies,” he said, “Their job now is to see how we can put those values back as part of school policy.”

What now?

Weber said the challenge now is to balance disapproval of the military policy against the danger that they will be perceived as discouraging students from joining the military.
“We all want the best and the brightest serving in the military,” Weber said. “And I can’t think of a better place to recruit them than at Harvard. I think that a good way to implement change is by getting people in the military who have different points of view who can effectuate change from the inside.”

Lambda’s Teicholz agreed with Weber, saying that they encouraged students interested in joining the JAG corps to go through the alternative interview process. “This is not about JAG; it’s about the Bush administration’s wielding its control of students’ educational opportunities to force Harvard to compromise its principles,” he said.

During an e-mail interview, Teicholz added, “Go enlist! Just do it in a way that doesn’t tell the Department of Defense that they can push us around to enforce their homophobia.”
Off campus, opinion makers have both praised and blasted the decision. “A public untutored in the nuances of the university’s thinking might get the impression that while Harvard’s elite graduates should make policy for the military, they just shouldn’t serve in it,” one Memphis paper wrote.

On campus, it is not yet clear how supporters and opponents of the military’s policy will react to the decision. Some students (including a columnist in today’s RECORD) have called for gay and lesbian students to try to book all JAG interview slots, while others have argued that doing so would only hurt students who are legitimately interested in joining the military. Teicholz said that Lambda had not yet decided how it would react.