What You Learn at Yale

For the record, I have far less problem with Stan McChrystal teaching a course on leadership at Yale than John Yoo teaching law at Berkeley or Doug Feith teaching anything anywhere.

But I am rather amused by the effort on the part of the students who took McChrystal’s class to defend him against charges that his class policies stymie academic freedom.

Here’s the core of their defense:

Non-attribution is the standard practice [at Yale] when sensitive topics are going to be discussed by responsible officials.

So the arguments Stephen Walt and Gian Gentile made about McChrystal? Aside from the detail of whether students had to sign a piece of paper, the arguments all appear to be true, to the extent that Yale told students to treat the class with non-attribution.

But that fact is apparently true for Yale generally, not just for Stan McChrystal.

Stan McChrystal sure seems to have taught these students at least one of the values they say he emphasizes in the class: loyalty. Though I question what lesson they’re learning about another characteristic he emphasizes, integrity.

In any case, their education more generally is teaching them that all “responsible” officials should be treated in such a way that those officials cannot be held accountable. Not only does it make these students unsuited for much of public service–to say nothing of journalism (at least one of the students is a photojournalist). But it really makes them unsuited to be citizens.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.