Not surprisingly, Columbia University students are rushing to disassociate themselves with the protesters who heckled veteran Anthony Maschek at a student forum on ROTC. The forum’s organizers—including some prominent on-campus ROTC supporters—have told the Columbia Spectator that the hecklers are not representative of the university, and both Maschek and the Columbia MilVets have issued statements affirming their largely positive experiences at Columbia and the school’s strong support for veteran students.
The students are right, and outside observers should be careful about drawing conclusions about campus sentiment toward the military based on a single incident. As shameful as the treatment of Maschek was, we don’t want to hand student radicals an unintended victory by allowing them to dominate the debate—or overshadow the efforts of pro-ROTC students at Columbia.
As for the ROTC opponents, like Lucha member Paco Martin del Campo, who are outraged at being “demonize[d]” and blamed for the actions of a few, perhaps they can put this experience to good use during this week’s final student forum on ROTC. They’ve already learned one valuable lesson to not, as Mr. Martin del Campo puts it, “be disrespecting people.” No doubt, they will also no longer be making statements lacking any basis in fact about the military’s “predatory” recruiting practices, alleged racism, lack of critical thinking skills, or any of the other scurrilous stereotypes they’ve employed during previous forums.