What Is It We Owe the Army?
Many of our readers were likely taken aback when they opened last week’s paper to see ranks of camouflaged soldiers saluting crisply in an ad for the U.S. Army’s new Advantage Fund initiative. The same ad is within this issue, and will be in the next as well. As students of conscience, we assert that this ad violates our political and moral values. However, as editors of this publication, we argue that to refuse to print it would be censorship.
We object to the ad’s content as a mouthpiece for an organization that uses glossy and convincing but ultimately specious ad campaigns to lure our peers into a war that may cost them their lives, often in exchange for little compensation. The Army targets and manipulates lower class youth, making them pawns to advance the United States’ neo-imperial agenda.
We on the Oberlin campus, in our world of left-wing politics and expensive, elite education, have become shielded from military presence. The fact that we gasp at the intrusion of this ad into our idyllic community is a reflection of our privilege. We can never forget that students across the country have to fend off daily advances of recruiters hungry to fill quotas. Not to mention the thousands of men and women our age who are in Iraq and Afghanistan and a dozen other places right now, many of them there because a recruiter’s spiel seemed to offer them their only way out of poverty.
We are lucky to be here at Oberlin and not on a distant battlefield, and we have the deepest respect and gratitude for the men and women of the armed forces. We thank them for their sacrifice, but have contempt for the policies that are responsible for that sacrifice. This does not mean we will let these beliefs get in the way of running our paper professionally.
When it comes to accepting or rejecting outside content, the Review will of course comply with all College policies concerning hate speech and harassment. Beyond that, it would be morally presumptuous of us to turn down submissions that don’t fit with our personal beliefs. If we truly value balance as a news organization, we cannot editorialize our content in any way. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing, and it is not our place to tell an advertiser, “Your money is no good here.”
The Review is bound by a three-issue ad contract that we cannot leave. However, we have chosen not to accept another set of three, not because of our feelings towards the Army, but because it has come to our attention that the money generated would go directly into SFC coffers. Additionally, readers should know that the paper has not incurred any extra costs by going to color. Our publisher offered to print in color at the same price we had been paying for black and white, and thus we did not have to take the ad to cover any rise in operating budget.
Students, take ownership of your school paper. If you take issue with this ad or any of our other content, know that we are accessible and sympathetic to your concerns. Though this ad may be repugnant to some, we hope that the controversy will generate constructive dialogue concerning the Army’s presence on college campuses, the role of a student newspaper and the meaning of the Freedom of Speech.