5 Best Tuesday Columns

The questions we need to ask on Afghanistan, ROTC on campus, and real help for the homeless

This article is from the archive of our partner .
  • William McGurn on DADT and ROTC  Now that President Obama has secured the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Wall Street Journal columnist urges him to turn his attention toward ending another discriminatory practice facing members of the military--the ban on ROTC programs at many major American universities. Obama clearly has the political will to pursue this issue--as a candidate, he spoke "without equivocation" on the importance of bringing ROTC to every college campus that can support a program. Like ending DADT, bringing ROTC back to campus--with all the rights and responsibilities of any other student organization--would be a sign of "respect, public and institutional, for the choice of young men and women who step forward to defend the  freedoms that make the work of our universities possible."

  • David Bornstein on Homeless Outreach  Homelessness is an issue that affects about 700,000 people in the United States, yet very few cities have a real plan to deal with the problem. David Bornstein at The New York Times endorses an approach already used by some 20 organizations, one that sends volunteers out to talk to the homeless, determine key demographic information--is this homeless person a veteran? Elderly? Mentally ill?--and figure out what kind of government subsidies are available to them. "It's not an indeterminite 'war on homelessness,'" Bornstein clarifies, "but a methodical approach to do away with a major social problem." Programs using this approach have already housed 6,816 previously homeless people and are just getting started. "But even as a solution to chronic homelessness is within sight, housing agencies, and other groups, need to change they way they work to implement it," Bornstein argues. "Even when housing is available, public systems remain slow, complicated and confusing, and disconnected from the streets." Still, Bornstein is confident that "in times of emergency, people can accomplish big things."

  • Christopher Hitchens on Afghanistan's Big Question  The Slate columnist believes America's war in Afghanistan can be boiled down to one big question: "Are we committed to Afghanistan or to the Karzai  government?" Right now, it seems unclear. Hitchens hopes America's loyalty is with the Afghan people. Not trying to do right by the "many, many Afghans who will fight the Taliban and al-Qaida whether we continue to do so or not" would be "morally deaf." So why has the United States resigned itself to letting the country be governed by a "regime that cannot any longer even claim to have won an election? Or, even worse, by  a predatory regime that may have a mutually hand-washing covert agreement with the Taliban itself?" The best-case scenario, Hitchens concludes, rests in the hope that there are still "two sides in Afghanistan, where we are attempting rather clumsily to shore up the lesser evil or perhaps the weaker yet better one."

  • Richard Cohen on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Fallout  This weekend saw the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevented gay soldiers from serving openly. While many have welcomed the repeal, others opposed the move to end the discrimination against gays in the military, and often citing a lack of unit cohesion as one of their major concerns. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is also concerned about unit cohesion, and believes that in order for openly gay members to be successfully integrated, they must not be forced to serve under leaders who are manifestly uncomfortable with their presence. In particular, he is referring to Marine Corps commandant General James Amos, who made public his opposition to serving alongside openly gay Marines. Cohen refers to Amos' concern--that the presence of homosexuals during combat could cause "a distraction"--as not only "silly and based on an ignorant misconception of who most gays are, but [one that] can be dealt with." Cohen argues, however, that Amos should not be the one to deal with the issue--rather, that he should be dismissed in order for unit cohesion to successfully exist. He explains that Amos's "subordinates know what he thinks of gays. They know he has not an iota of sympathy for what might be their difficulties or any intolerance for their lifestyle. If I were gay, I would not want to work for the man--or serve under him. He's one step short of being a bigot."

  • Courtney Martin on the Leveraging the 'Girl Effect'  Fifteen years ago, when First Lady Hillary Clinton spoke at the UN and declared that "women's rights are human rights," the statement was controversial. Now that assertion is practically conventional wisdom. Writing at the American Prospect, Martin is pleased with this development, but she believes now is the moment for even bigger action. "Confronting long standing cultural bias--entrenched by systemic sexism, racism, and classism--is not going to be overturned with haphazard pity," she explains, "but with large-scale, strategic action." Martin thinks it's time to start  applying what we know about the 'girl effect' to disadvantaged girls in America. "While sex slavery is certainly a critical issue in Cambodia, it's also a  problem in Cleveland," she writes. "Education can uplift the girls of Afghanistan, but it can also be a launching pad for girls in Louisiana."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.