Sunday, January 22, 2006

On Campus Miliary Recruiting Helps Us - Carlos

This Fall semester I saw a friend of mine passing out literature and protest ribbons at a table placed directly outside of the Career Services office of my law school. The student was protesting the military’s recruiting prescence on our campus because the military openly discriminates against homosexuals in the military. College campuses, which protest the “don’t ask to tell” policy, are forced to either allow military recruiters on their campuses or lose out on billions of dollars in federal funding. Many law schools contend that being forced to allow these recruiters on campuses in effect makes them violate their own anti-discrimation policies. The Supreme Court took the issue up and will decide on it soon.

I strolled around the table a couple of times tempted to take a ribbon and place it on my chest in solidarity with my gay friend. I chose against doing so, not because I agree with the military’s policy or because I have a theoretical argument in opposition to them, but because I believe that the military has opened the door for many people of color to succeed.

Military recruiters should be allowed on campus because the military is one of the largest employers for people of color, especially Mexican Americans. The military often gives poor kids hope when there is no hope. The military instills discipline in kids who lack the necessary discipline at home. And, the bottom line is that the military provides a paycheck.

I recently exchanged emails with an old friend from my hometown of McAllen, TX who told me that he would be nowhere without the military. His friends were thugs, his home was unstable, and his school work was dismal. He joined the military and continues to serve in a contractor capacity working for Halliburton in Iraq. Today, he receives a steady paycheck and can provide for his family.

The fact that the military is the only option for people of color is sad, but true. I don’t like the fact that military recruiters target people of color. Military recruiters know the kids will enlist because they have no hope of going to college or will join out of respect for their parent’s or older sibling’s profession. Much more has to be done for developing options for young people of color, but the reality is that right now one of the best options is joining the military.

The military is truly an equal opportunity employer, as long as you’re not gay. I point to Gen. Colin Power, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and many others. I think we must change the way we think about homosexuals in this country, but in the meantime, I want Chicanos to be able to get a job by joining the military. I think we must have jobs waiting for enlisted men and women who go off to war and come back struggling to find employment, but in the meantime, I want Chicanos to be able to get a job by joining the military.

Finally, I don’t agree with the military’s policy, our government’s disinterest in educating marginalized communities, or the fact that a disproportionate amount of Mexican-Americans are getting killed in Iraq. I do however think that at this point the military is a viable option for many people of color; and if getting the information out includes have recruiters at schools, so be it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

At what point do you think the military will cease to be the only "viable" option for the marginalized and socio-economically disadvantaged? When you consider that the military has historically taken advantage of these communities for their recruitment, I have to wonder how this will ever change if people continue to take a 'sad, but true' stance on the issue. I realize that your decision to not support your gay friend's efforts was not necessarily a show of support for the military. But how else can one show their dissatisfaction with the military's recruitment strategies? Wouldn't it be possible to remain supportive of people who choose to serve because they see it as their "only option" while also protesting against the military's recruitment strategies? Perhaps something as simple as wearing a ribbon on your lapel could make a more firm (and politically/morally consistent) statement.

8:29 PM, March 29, 2008  

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