According to our beloved author Noah Webster 1778, an anthem is meant to typify the identity of a particular group. It would appear, however, that ours does just the opposite. That rousing line “For God, for Country and for Yale” is as hollow as it is inspiring. As a secular institution, it seems our University has already forsaken only a third of its popular slogan. However, with the appalling criticism that has met the announcement of a U.S. Army Special Operations Command center at Yale, it now seems that the only thing we actually support is, well, ourselves.
The purpose of this Department of Defense training center is, in conjunction with the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale Medical School, to train special operations soldiers in effective questioning techniques. This program could prevent the use of physicality in interrogations and can increase the effectiveness of our special operations units in gleaning information from interrogations. It would have no effect on the student body, since these would be small classes of soldiers trained at the medical school. But through this military intelligence training, these soldiers may be able to save countless lives. There will be no military takeover on campus, but this is an opportunity to train our troops most effectively — shirking this responsibility to our nation would cost the military their best option for special operations improvements, effectively sabotaging our troops.
In our diverse student body, there are voices that have expressed their distaste for the American military and foreign policy. Many argue that America is imperialistic or that it uses its military for personal gain behind a façade of righteousness. While I disagree with this anti-American sentiment, this isn’t even the issue at hand. You may agree or disagree with our nation’s involvement in various military endeavors, but as long as you live in America or study at an American institution on American soil, the United States Armed Forces has sworn to protect you by every possible means. There can be marches across the country, and there may be millions whose distaste for our military involvements runs deep, but our soldiers lay their lives on the line for every last one of those dissenting voices. They don’t come home just because the American people are ungrateful. They fight on, because they know that the faction of people in America that can yell their distaste from the rooftops have exactly the freedom that they are dying to protect. So, when we have the opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of special operations groups designed to chase terrorism to the edges of the earth, I hope we can unite behind a common bond of humanity and support techniques that may very well save lives on both sides of the fight.
As a proud cousin of a special forces operative in Afghanistan, as well as a proud Christian, proud American and proud Yalie, I abhor the idea of us spitting hypocrisy when we sing that battle cry: “For God, for Country and for Yale.” I cherish this opportunity to give what support and resources we can to those who protect us and our liberties. I salute every one of these brave men and women who are willing to sacrifice their very lives so that we may continue to study here at a university sustained by the blood of American soldiers, now engraved in the Woolsey Rotunda. For students to study under our nation’s freedoms and then protest against the training of the youths who are dying to protect them is, in my humble opinion, a disgrace. Whether you disgust or delight in the actions of our armed forces, this is bigger than supporting a just or unjust war. This is about the establishment of a training center for individual soldiers, nay, individual people, with faces and families. It is my prayer that the phrase that concludes “Bright College Years” will mean more than just words on a felt banner. I hope it can truly be our anthem, embodied in this center on our campus.
Will Davenport is a sophomore in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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