By ANNIE KARNI
Posted: 12:10 AM, February 20, 2011
Columbia University students heckled a war hero during a town-hall meeting on whether ROTC should be allowed back on campus.
"Racist!" some students yelled at Anthony Maschek, a Columbia freshman and former Army staff sergeant awarded the Purple Heart after being shot 11 times in a firefight in northern Iraq in February 2008. Others hissed and booed the veteran.
Maschek, 28, had bravely stepped up to the mike Tuesday at the meeting to issue an impassioned challenge to fellow students on their perceptions of the military.
"It doesn't matter how you feel about the war. It doesn't matter how you feel about fighting," said Maschek. "There are bad men out there plotting to kill you."
Several students laughed and jeered the Idaho native, a 10th Mountain Division infantryman who spent two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington recovering from grievous wounds.
Maschek, who is studying economics, miraculously survived the insurgent attack in Kirkuk. In the hail of gunfire, he broke both legs and suffered wounds to his abdomen, arm and chest.
He enrolled last August at the Ivy League school, where an increasingly ugly battle is unfolding over the 42-year military ban there.
More than half of the students who spoke at the meeting -- the second of three hearings on the subject -- expressed opposition to ROTC's return. Many of the 200 students in the audience held anti-military placards with slogans such as, "1 in 3 female soldiers experiences sexual assault in the military."
The university has created a task force polling 10,000 students on the issue, but would not release the vote tally of the 1,300 who have already responded.
In 2005, when the university last voted to reject ROTC's return, it cited the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
That policy was overturned in December, but resistance remains.
"Transpeople are part of the Columbia community," said senior Sean Udell at the meeting, referring to the military's current ban on transgender soldiers.
Faculty members are divided.
"Universities should not be involved in military activities," Sociology Professor Emeritus Herbert Gans told The Post. "Columbia should come out against spending $300 billion a year on unnecessary wars."
A group of 34 faculty colleagues, including historian Kenneth Jackson and former Bloomberg adviser Esther Fuchs, plan to announce their support of ROTC tomorrow.
José Robledo, 30, a Columbia student who commutes to Fordham University for ROTC coursework, said he found the treatment of Maschek abhorrent.
"The anti-ROTC side has been disrespectful and loud. They hiss and they jeer," he said. "It's been to the detriment of the argument."
It's easy to heckle the ones who keep you safe and alive when you've never had to defend the country that gives you the right of free speech.
It's easy to criticize when you know, because of a hero's sacrifice, that you can sleep secure tonight.
It's easy for cowardly bullies to yell and scream at someone who is better than they are when they know he will not reciprocate.
What is going through there minds? He is not the problem. He is a HERO.
Dan Emplit WBFD
Add on Edit:
I was discussing this on a firearms blog and a friend said this about staff sergeant Maschek going to "one of the great bastions of leftist ideology" and speaking "out in support of the military"
"that's true, he went in harms way again [in a metaphorical sense] he wasn't demeaned, they were. i just felt that our country is slightly smaller and poorer for such behavior on the part of the young people, supposedly the intelligentsia, supposedly the intellectual elite to be!"
Thank you MPI, I couldn't find the words.