ROTC, Patriotism Link Is Protested

I wish to take exception to Lee Harris' article, "ROTC to Be Added at Lynwood Campus" (Southeast / Long Beach section, Sunday, July 7). ROTC on high school campuses is a controversial subject and to treat it so superficially demeans The Times and patronizes us all.

The Lynwood trustees' rationale (to prevent 5 or 10 student transfers) is, of course, ludicrous; Principal Larry Tripplett's contention that ROTC is part of an "upgrading of the entire curriculum" is equally absurd. But my objections are directed elsewhere. I protest the identification of ROTC with renewed patriotism. Love and service of country take many forms. True patriotism is not necessarily served by militarizing our youth or by their choosing the more violent ways of conflict resolution.

ROTC stands with campus recruitment as a form of free propaganda for Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. To its captive and impressionable audience, it invariably offers the soft sell of leadership training and career opportunity, never mentioning the purpose of the military--to kill or maim. Whether this purpose be good or bad, and under what circumstances, should be carefully arrived at by specialized counseling that never coexists with these programs and that I know from experience has been explicitly excluded from district schools with ROTC.

I have been counseling young men in crises of conscience over military commitments for many years and I find campus recruiting and officer training to be forms of entrapment.

The article could have moved us all to consider the pluses and minuses of the awesome presence of the military in our children's lives. As it stands, it simply cheers it on.


Seal Beach

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