Sunday, October 26, 2008
Blatant political plug (that I can't even vote for)...
The city of San Francisco will be voting a week from Tuesday on, among a few other things, Proposition V. Prop V is attempt to show support for the continuation of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC).
My experience with JRTOC is that both my son and Caryn's son went through the program. It taught them a new degree of respect and leadership. It gave them a sense of belonging and engaged them in service projects. It did not turn them into bloodthirsty fiends.
The SFUSD board has voted to end JROTC for two primary reasons.
First, JROTC, being connected to the military, represents a target to protest against "Don't ask, don't tell".
Second, JROTC serves as a vehicle for recruiting our students directly from high schools.
The problem with ending JROTC is that, while it serves to ameliorate the second issue, it actually harms any efforts to end "Don't ask, don't tell". Follow my logic:
San Francisco represents a unique environment. A nearly progressive utopia, San Franciscans grow up in an arena of tolerance and respect. People who go through the San Francisco USD spend their school careers learning that the person next to them, who happens to be gay, does not represent a threat to you.
JROTC is, among many other things, a recruiting tool, just as the board members fear. I would suggest that this is not altogether a bad thing. JROTC represents a path to leadership in the military, and that, combined with the previous aspect becomes important.
The deal is this: "Don't ask, don't tell", and the attitude that made it happen will continue as long as the leadership of the military is populated with a lot of folks who honestly feel that "gay soldier" = "dangerous pervert". Attitudes don't easily change, and it is pretty clear that nothing will change until the leadership does.
Now, the question is, do you want that leadership to be made of people who grow up in an environment where people like Sally "the gay agenda is worse than terrorism" Kern are looked up to?
Basically, removal of JROTC from the SFUSD will be a factor in condemning another generation to intolerance and fear.
Of course, V is a non-binding proposal, but these SFUSD board members are wanna-be real politicians, and they aren't completely stupid. While it is not assured, if V passes, there may, just may be a chance that they will rethink their decision and let JROTC stand.
Posted by Paul Franson