Peace Porridge #14, Neo-McCarthyites Attack Academia|
25 Nov 2001
Capitalizing on our grief and fears in the wake of the September 11 tragedy, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) issued a document reviving McCarthyism. McCarthyism is enforced conformity of belief through intimidation, threats, blacklisting, and personal attacks on the reputation and livelihood of those who publicly dissent from "acceptable beliefs." In this case the "acceptable belief" is that we should respond to the events of September 11, by making war on Afghanistan. McCarthyism is named after former senator Joseph McCarthy who used fear of communism in the 1950's to create an stifling atmosphere of conformity and intimidation, and in the process destroyed the reputation and livelihood to many patriotic Americans.
ACTA lists its founders as Lynne Cheney, wife of vice president Dick Cheney, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, former democratic vice presidential candidate. (Once again, when you get down to basics, the two parties are virtually identical.)
In a document called "Defending Civilization: ..." (Who says these kooks don't have a sense of humor?) ACTA viciously attacks academia for failure to whole-heartedly support a war which has already caused intense suffering among Afghanistan's civilian population, and will almost certainly result in massive starvation and death this winter. While claiming "professors should be passionately defended in their right to academic freedom," the document makes plain that what is to be defended is the right to "[rally] behind the president wholeheartedly," and that academic freedom does not extend to "moral relativism," which is anything less than an endorsement of "We're right and they're wrong. It's as simple as that." as NYC major Giuliani put it.
According to this document, "academe is the only sector of American society that is distinctly divided in its response [to the events of 9/11]." ACTA founder Lynne Cheney also attacks the quest for knowledge itself, writing that, "[to study Islam] implies that the events of Sept. 11 were our fault." (See http://www.goacta.org/Reports/defciv.pdf )
For Ms. Cheney's and Sen. Lieberman's information, it's not just academe which is divided. Regardless of what the polls may say, the whole country is divided on the issue of war. Recently at a peace vigil on a busy street in Columbia, Missouri, motorists responded to a sign saying "Honk If You Are For Peace" with an almost continuous barrage of blaring horns. At the recent demonstration to close down WHISC, the U.S. Army's training school at Fort Benning for Latin American terrorists like Manuel Noriega and Leopoldo Galtieri, ten thousand demonstrators through their clothing and the placards they carried, identified themselves as Christians, Jews, Dominicans, Franciscans, Methodists, veterans, union members, students, grandmothers, mothers, children; as belonging to all manner of age, social, political, class, professional, veterans, and religious groupings. And these are just two examples from my own experience.
"Defending Civilization ..." lists 117 instances of dissent from perhaps 50 campuses, from which ACTA is presumably defending civilization. Reading it over, I got a little miffed that they hadn't included anything that I wrote. After all, I'm an academic who has been turning out anti-war statements continuously since September 11. Perhaps the open letter below to Ms. Cheney and Senator Lieberman will remedy this.
Dear Ms. Cheney and Senator Lieberman:
I have read your report, "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It," published by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, (ACTA) which lists you as co-founders. In "Defending" you give a list of 117 instances of patriotism in which members of academia, in accordance with there right under the U.S. Constitution and their duty under God and the Nuremberg Declaration, express dissent to war madness, gross violations of human rights, and the lust for revenge which has gripped our nation since the tragedy of September 11.
As a member of academia who has been writing dissent to the war madness since mid-September, I would like to apply for inclusion in your compendium of writers of patriotic dissent. I noticed that no one from the University of Missouri-Rolla, (UMR) to which I have given 17 years of my life, is included in your list. If you would include my writings, you would do both me and UMR, from which I recently retired, honor.
Reading your report, I notice that some of the writings you include are over 50 years old. For example you credit Harvard University with "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." This is an ofttimes quoted remark by Mohandas Gandhi, who led the struggle for India's freedom and independence from British colonial terrorists over 50 years ago. Gandhi is revered worldwide for pioneering the use of non-violent civil disobedience in opposition to war and injustice.
Also, I have seen better dissent flowing from the pens of sixth graders than some of the writings you include. For example "[The Pentagon] represents America's impregnable right," which you attribute to Brown University is hardly dissent at all. And "hate breeds hate" which you attribute to the University of Maryland: why its almost a tautology. And "Ignorance breeds hate?" Who would disagree with that?
You write in your report, "Rarely did professors publicly mention heroism." I am proud to say that I devoted a significant portion of the November 11 mailing of Peace Porridge, #10: Armistice Day Demonstration , to our nation's heros.
For example, I mentioned our military heros who are now members of Veterans For Peace, working to undo some of the damage done by the wars they were involved in, and educating the public on the necessity of avoiding future wars. One such veteran has written, "We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war, despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it."
I mentioned reverend Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps our greatest American hero, the only individual American to whom we devote a federal holiday. It is well known that Dr. King led the struggle against segregation and racism in this country until his assassination in 1968 by racist terrorism, under the watchful eyes of the FBI. It is much less widely known that Dr. King's victories were won through non-violent civil disobedience, and that he strongly denounced all forms of violence, including the military terrorist war we were fighting in Vietnam which he considered a racist war. It is barely known at all that even after his assassination, the FBI, which bears responsibility for the murder of many African-American civil rights leaders in the 1960's, continued to spread lies about Dr. King in attempts to tarnish his reputation and undermine his credibility. ( see COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story )
Perhaps this lack of knowledge of Dr. King and what he stood for is what you had in mind when you wrote, "Yet America's elite college students are graduating woefully ignorant of the foundations of Western Civilization as well as American history and its founding." Or perhaps you were referring to the biological warfare perpetrated by the European invaders of this land, who deliberately spread smallpox among our indigenous peoples, with full knowledge that they had no immunity to this European disease. Or perhaps you were referring to the Trail of Tears where the U.S. Army uprooted entire Indian nations from their tribal homes and forced them to march a thousand miles without adequate food or clothing; what we would call today ethnic cleansing. Or perhaps to the Sand Hill and Wounded Knee massacres, where the U.S. Army indiscriminately slaughtered unarmed Indian women and children.
It is ofttimes said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them; and repeat them we did. Because of the failure of our schools to teach American history, we have repeated these atrocities in recent years: the slaughter of entire villages of women, children, and old men in Vietnam; the deliberate bombing of Iraq's water treatment facilities in the Gulf War, followed by the most comprehensive economic sanctions ever imposed, and the death of 5,000 Iraqi children every month for over 10 years; and the spraying of the homes and crops of Columbian peasants with toxic chemicals under the guise of a "war on drugs."
Yes, I totally agree with you. Many of our college students are graduating woefully ignorant. We must stop teaching a false sanitized version of American history in which these atrocities never happened, and begin to teach real American history in our schools.
Should you decide that my writings are worthy of inclusion in your compendium of patriotic dissent, perhaps I could suggest the following short quotes:
"We [demonstrators at U.S. Army School of the Americas/WHISC] follow in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. We understand that terrorism breeds more terrorism in a never ending escalating cycle. We will break the cycle. ... We will close down this institution which shamelessly admitted that it used a manual describing torture techniques to train officers of some of the most abusive regimes in Latin America." - Peace Porridge #13, Largest US Anti-Terrorist Organization attracts 10,000, Federal Judge Upholds Constitution.
"[In response to nuclear crisis] today we have an illegitimate [because he lost the election] president with the educational level of a retarded sixth grader, and all the finesse of a shark at a feeding frenzy. ... Isn't it time we realized that military solutions don't work anymore?" --Peace Porridge #12 Stepping up to the nuclear plate: Its deja vu all over again folk.
"I could never call someone who drops bombs on people from an airplane a hero. Rather, I would call him a victim of the same madness, arrogance, and greed that has killed 1.5 million Afghans in the past 20 years of fighting, and may kill that many again this winter from starvation and cold." -- Peace Porridge, #10: Armistice Day Demonstration.
I await your response.
Associate Professor Emeritus
Department of Computer Science
University of Missouri-Rolla