Saturday, November 21, 2009

Discrimination against vets

Academics disgust me. This week was the second time that I witnessed what looks very much like anti-military discrimination. We were doing telephone interviews for a replacement position, and one candidate seemed particularly strong. Great vita. Ivy League. Post-doc at an impressive place. Good publications. Math whiz. Then I heard the man speak. I literally thought to myself, "This guy sounds like Steven Pinker." Beautiful answers.

When we hung up the phone, a committee member beat me to the punch and started rattling off all the reasons why we didn't want the guy. They were all bogus. I'm a little slow on the uptake, but then it hit me that she didn't want him because he is ex-military. Of course she is not going to admit that. Either she outright dislikes the military, or she sees it as a sign that the candidate probably does not have a lifetime subscription to The Nation like she does. I proceeded to debate her but then the others jumped in and took her side. And veterans are supposed to get a break--what a joke.

I consoled myself that he's too good for us anyway and will do very well somewhere. Who knows, maybe he'll be out with his own Blank Slate in a few years, and I'm damn happy it won't have our university's name on it.   


  1. sabril10:38 PM

    The sense I get is that conservative academics are willing to hire liberals who are otherwise qualified but not vice-versa.

    Anyway, this guy should put something on his CV to establish his liberal bona fides. For example, there must be a group out there called "veterans for social justice" or something he could join.

  2. If any group deserves what liberals refer to as "social justice", it's veterans. They've actually done something themselves, not their ancestors. Of course, they already get preferences in plenty places of course. Free healthcare at VAs, VA home loans, college money, federal employment preference, discounts at movies, etc. On second thought, maybe they get enough preference.

  3. I think you should write to the President, Secretary of Defense, the head of the VA, etc. Give names,dates, and remarks. Close down your shop.

  4. I've heard the same in hiring discussions, and I mean explicitly, as in "no more ex-military people."

    The same person who made this comment wanted to reject another candidate because he claimed to have seen -- or might have seen, he wasn't sure -- a Jesus fish tattooed on the guy's wrist. (I never noticed anything of the sort, and there were no references to Jesus, religion, salvation, missionary work, or church activities in his resume or our interview conversation. Plus, I think most fundamentalist Christians are not heavily into tattoos.)

    To make the story even stranger, the guy making this allegation has a small, apparently homemade tattoo of a cross on his wrist. I guess he thinks it gives him street cred, or something. I did gently point out to him that, so far as I knew, having a tattoo was not a barrier to employment in our department.

  5. Anonymous6:16 AM

    The armed services are a volunteer force. As such, ex-military is a good proxy for political conservatism. Ask anyone who has spent time among the enlisted.

    Your colleague knew what she was doing.

  6. Anonymous7:19 AM


    If the applicant were a underqualified white female who didn't speak well, but had the right political opinions and was not too good looking to be threatening, I imagine your feminine colleague would be warmer to the hire.

    Liberal women are unethical creatures when it comes to conservative men.

  7. Just to spell it out, you are "disgusted" by academics because you are confident in your ability to read this one academic's mind.

    Even if you're right about her reasons being bogus -- and how could we know that? -- maybe she just didn't like this dude. Maybe he reminds her of somebody. Maybe she picked up on something that you didn't (or thought she did.) Maybe she's sexist. Who knows?

    You're just jumping to a single conclusion that it's because he's a vet and declaring "Discrimination against vets!"

    Weak stuff, man.


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