Elena Kagan and Flagg 2.0

Ret. Army Capt. Flagg Youngblood (namesake of this guy?) was invited by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan yesterday. He had a bitter tale to tell.

A tale of discrimination, of being treated as less than, of being deemed "not worthy to do so much as to gather up the crumbs under Harvard’s table", of being permitted to participate in the bounty that is this nation, or at least Harvard, only if he stayed in the kitchen, in his place by the back door — "by the garbage."

Who imposed this despicable treatment on Capt. Youngblood? Well, ok, not on him exactly. But though Youngblood was not himself the victim of the shameful treatment he described, as military outreach director for Young America's Foundation, he feels the pain of those who were: members of the U.S. military — in a time of war!

Who is the villain who wielded her power in this iron-fisted way to diminish, humiliate and lessen the opportunities of her fellow citizens? Elena Kagan, that's who. While Dean at Harvard Law School, Kagan denied military recruiters access to the school's career services office, for a time, in keeping with established University policy, while nevertheless permitting them complete freedom to recruit among the School's students.

The policy did not actually single out the military for discriminatory treatment. It prohibits only helping in their recruiting efforts any employer which discriminates on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. The military is such an employer by virtue of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law.

So — technically — Kagan was acting in support of non-discrimination. But that's no excuse, as far as Youngblood is concerned. Illustrating the hardship military recruiters had been put to in not having the use of the career services office as they freely went about their recruitment efforts on campus, Youngblood invoked the plight of African-Americans in the days of legal segregation.

"Imagine Dean Kagan on a lunch counter," he said. Oh, damn. Wait . . imagine what? Well, never mind that. The essential point, as Youngblood pointed out, is this:
Separate but equal is, quite simply, not equal.
And when you deprive military recruiters of the fundamental human right to use the Harvard Law School's career services office, for no better reason than the fact that you "abhor the military's discriminatory recruitment policy" believing it to be "a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order", you violate that basic, well-established principle.

Why is that so hard for someone like Elena Kagan to understand?

Perhaps because some who don't respect members of the military as full members of society are willing to overlook her discriminatory ways. People like Capt. Kurt White, head of the Harvard Law Armed Forces Association, who was a veteran and a student at Harvard while Kagan was Dean. White testified Kagan had been supportive of student vets at the school, and in doing so had "made a big difference in the lives of the small group of us veterans."

White's appreciation of the importance of equality for all may be suspect in some quarters, however, as he was testifying at the invitation of Democratic members of the committee. Another such invitee was Lilly Ledbetter.

Said Ms. Ledbetter of her own struggle for equal treatment, "I learned who is on the Supreme Court makes all the difference."

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