FLASHBACK: Veterans at Harvard Law vehemently rejected claims that Kagan was “anti-military”

In response to a New York Times article discussing Elena Kagan's opposition to the military's discriminatory “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, Ed Whelan has again highlighted Peter Beinart's assertion that “you can't alienate yourself from the [military] without in a certain sense alienating yourself from the country. Barring the military from campus is a bit like barring the president or even the flag. It's more than a statement of criticism; it's a statement of national estrangement.” Whelan also accused Kagan of engaging in “her cheap moral posturing in the aftermath of 9/11, at a time when American soldiers were at war defending our freedom.”

It bears mention that military veterans at Harvard Law School strongly dispute the idea that Kagan was anti-military and stated that she had a “strong record of welcoming and honoring veterans on campus.” In connection with Kagan's solicitor general confirmation hearings, three military veterans who were Harvard law students at the time wrote a letter to the Judiciary Committee that said:

We are sending this letter due to an op-ed by Flagg Youngblood titled “Solicitor general flimflam,” which appeared in the January 30, 2009 edition of The Washington Times. This article unfairly labels Dean Elena Kagan as an “anti-military zealot.” As Iraq War veterans who currently attend Harvard Law School, we wanted to inform the Committee of Dean Kagan's strong record of welcoming and honoring veterans on campus. We have enclosed the letter to the editor that we submitted to The Washington Times in response to Mr. Youngblood's piece. This letter highlights Dean Kagan's support for the student veteran community. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

The Washington Times letter by the three veterans stated:

As Iraq War veterans who currently attend Harvard Law School, we believe that Flagg Youngblood's referring to Dean Elena Kagan as an “anti-military zealot” is a gross mischaracterization “Solicitor general flimflam,” Op-Ed, Friday). Like Mr. Youngblood, we support military recruiting on campus and hope that the Obama administration vigorously defends the Solomon Amendment.

However, this position has not diminished our appreciation for Miss Kagan's embrace of veterans on campus. During her time as dean, she has created an environment that is highly supportive of students who have served in the military. For the past three years, Miss Kagan has hosted a Veterans Day dinner for all former service members and spouses. She pioneered this event on her own initiative, which has meant a great deal to students.

Indeed, every year, Miss Kagan makes a point to mention the number of veterans in the first-year class during her welcome address to new students. Under her leadership, Harvard Law School has also gone out of its way to highlight our military service, publishing numerous articles on the school Web site and in alumni newsletters. These are not actions of an “anti-military zealot,” and greater care should be exercised before someone is labeled as such.