Thirty-eight years ago, John Kerry delivered a graduation speech on behalf of his Yale class that was sharply critical of the conflict in Vietnam. In many ways, his words that day set the tone for the radicalism that would define the Yale campus for generations to come.
For my parents' generation, which went to school in the 1960's and 70's, college was often a radicalizing experience. For the Yale class of 2004 - which I graduate with tomorrow - it has been the opposite. The world has changed significantly since we entered college four years ago; over that time, our attitudes have changed, too.
On 9/11, we were barely a week into our sophomore year. Because the terrorist attacks were the first national trauma my generation experienced, I believe they had a more profound effect on our still malleable political psyches than they had on our parents and grandparents, who had lived through national traumas before.
What do I base this on? Consider this: One of the most under-reported statistics about the war in Iraq is my generation's overwhelming support for it - not just in its early stages but well into last year. While the conventional wisdom holds that young Americans tend to be more liberal than older Americans, that wasn't the case this time. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken in October, a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds thought the war worthwhile, the same percentage as in the population at large. The same survey found that President Bush had a 9 percent higher approval rating among people under 30 than he did among older respondents.
Of my 11 junior-year suite-mates, a racially and geographically diverse group of Democrats, only three opposed the war in Iraq. Across the Yale campus, similar sentiments reigned. During our junior year, when the national debate over Iraq was at its height, one of the most visible student political organizations on campus was the Yale College Students for Democracy, a group of hawkish liberals and neo-conservatives who supported the war. The biggest campus-wide "Support Our Troops" rally was at least as well attended as any antiwar protest.
我的11位大学三年级的同学来自不同的种族和地域，但都属于民主党人。他们之中只有3人反对伊拉克战争。这种情绪遍及整个耶鲁校园。在我们大三期间，当国家对伊拉克的争论达到极点的时候，在校园里最惹眼的学生政治组织乃是耶鲁大学生民主会（Yale College Students for Democracy），它由一群支持战争的鹰派自由主义者和新保守主义者组织。全校范围内规模最大的 "支持我们的军队"（ Support Our Tro