John documented our coverage of Yale University over the years and reminded me of my own reporting from the scene nearly 20 years ago. I happened to be on campus in October 2003 when Navy Judge Advocate General Recruiter Brian Whitaker visited Yale Law School to meet with students interested in serving as Navy lawyers. Virtually every Yale law student had signed a petition vowing that he or she would not meet with Whitaker or other JAG recruiters. Diversity is our strength, or something.
I went over to the law school to take a look with my own eyes. I found the petition publicly displayed inside the building as part of a protest exhibition that included black and camouflage wall hangings. The one law student scheduled to meet with Whitaker cancelled the interview.
The ostensible cause of the consternation occasioned by Whitaker’s visit was the military’s compliance with the “don’t ask/don’t tell” law on homosexual conduct in the armed forces. Law schools across the country had hindered military recruiters from meeting with law students because the military’s adherence to the “don’t ask/don’t tell” law violated nondiscrimination policies enforced by the schools against on-campus recruiters. In my column I explored the university’s resolution of the conflict between money and “rights” expounded by law school authorities.
I wrote about it in the Weekly Standard column “JAGs not welcome,” setting that particular disgrace in the context of Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights as it made its way to the Supreme Court. My column featured a cameo by Elena Kagan as dean of Harvard Law School. The legal position taken by Harvard, Yale, and others narrowly lost that case 9-0.
In a sense, the song remains the same, only more so, in the recent disgrace involving the March 10 Federalist Society free speech event. There the offense was the mere participation of a speaker from the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The boundaries of acceptable discourse within our elite institutions continue to narrow in the service of enforcing the evolving orthodoxies of the progressive left. It’s a long way down. You’d think there must be a bottom somewhere.