Making “Colonel Kagan” Cry

Robert Merrill was an active-duty Marine Corps captain fresh from Fallujah when he arrived at Harvard Law in 2005.  He returned to the military after graduating in 2008 and is currently a Marine captain and legal adviser to an infantry battalion in southern Afghanistan.  He wrote a piece in The Washington Post that Kagan claims made her cry:

Kagan’s Veterans Day dinners became a tradition. During my final year at Harvard, she treated the veterans to dinner at a restaurant in Cambridge. (Military service has its perks.) Again, there was no agenda other than to thank us for our service and to ask about our military experiences. Over wine and dinner, Kagan listened attentively to our war stories. I later told her that her blunt style of leadership would have served her well in the Marines. I took to calling her “Colonel Kagan” whenever we crossed paths on campus.

During nine years of service in the Marine Corps, I have received a fair number of thanks from friends and strangers alike. I received perhaps the most thoughtful thanks of all just before graduating from Harvard Law School: The supposedly “anti-military” Elena Kagan sent me a handwritten note thanking me for my military service and wishing me luck in my new life as a judge advocate.

If Elena Kagan is “anti-military,” she certainly didn’t show it. She treated the veterans at Harvard like VIPs, and she was a fervent advocate of our veterans association. She was decidedly against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but that never affected her treatment of those who had served. I am confident she is looking forward to the upcoming confirmation hearings as an opportunity to engage in some intellectual sparring with members of Congress over her Supreme Court nomination. I would respectfully warn them to do their homework, as she has a reputation for annihilating the unprepared.

Thanks to Rachel Maddow.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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