We are visiting Little Trunk at Yale over the Parents’ Weekend that formally commenced this afternoon. Yale kicks off the Parents’ Weekend festivities in grand style each year with lectures by the current recipients of the Yale College Prizes for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching. The 2003 winners included Professor Nigel Alderson, who spoke on Wordsworth, Professor Jane Levin, who spoke on the Iliad, and Professor and retired General William Odom, who spoke on America’s emergence as the world’s lone superpower.
General Odom’s lecture was based on his forthcoming book America’s Inadvertent Empire. His thesis is that America has founded an empire of a new type — a type for which the word “empire” is perhaps inappropriate — an empire “by invitation.” He characaterized it as ideological rather than territorial, profitable rather than money-losing, and consensual rather than compulsory.
He asked what the sources of American power are. Building on the work of economist Douglass North, he located the sources of American power in the liberal constitutional order. He noted that in his own undergraduate education in the 1950’s, Brazil, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran and Indonesia were frequently touted as the countries of the future; he also noted sarcastically that they still are, because they have yet to achieve a “constitutional breakthrough” imposing limits on rulers and establishing rules for making new rules. He argued that it is constitutional constraints that must precede democracy in order to make democracy a friend of freedom and a source of prosperity.
What would a campus visit be without a student protest? Today’s Yale Daily News reports the law school’s protest of the recruiting visit of Navy officer Brian Whitaker on behalf of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General program. The Yale Daily News reports: “Yale Law School students draped the school with black and camouflage fabric Thursday in protest of a U.S. Navy representative’s recruiting visit. For the third time since the fall of 2002, the Law School waived the application of its decades-old nondiscrimination policy to military recruiters — a group generally barred from campus — in an effort to retain over $350 million in federal funding.”
Under federal law, federally funded institutions are prohibited from barring military recruiters on campus. The law school has only recently begun to comply with the law, and the law school’s dean wants it known that the school is not gladly complying with its legal obligations: “Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman said in an e-mail Thursday that the school’s suspension of its [nondiscrimination] policy for the military recruiters is ‘profoundly regrettable. It is immoral, and contrary to all the Yale Law School stands for, that the gay and lesbian students in our community should be victims of discrimination in any program the school officially sponsors. The wound is not just to the victims. It is to us all.'” It is not, however, a wound that he’s willing to heal by forgoing the dough.
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