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Troops dying to hear ISU professor's opinion

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | DECEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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I can't make this cute. I can't make a joke about Easter eggs or Christmas elves. I can't think of a way to spin this so I get more hits on the DI website.

Thomas Walker, a lecturer in the intensive English and orientation program at Iowa State University, wrote a letter the Iowa State Daily reprimanding one of the student organizations for taking up a collection for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I'm sorry?

"Donating toiletries, boxed and canned foods, socks, and beanies to U.S. soldiers who can already deodorize themselves, who eat better than the poorest Americans, and who are gallantly garbed, is an eleemosynary travesty," wrote Walker.

Come again?

"Soldiers are to Republicans as fetuses are to them: prized. But once out of the womb-like army, Republican solicitude for hapless veterans goes where extracted zygotes go" — another nugget from Walker.

When soldiers are compared to fetuses, my tolerance ends. When their deaths are compared to abortions, my level of appreciation for the freedom the petty like Walker enjoys decreases exponentially. The lack of humanity or the ignorance necessary to posses even the slightest capability of harboring discontent for people who risk blood for your chosen country is beyond me.

Small chats with my grandfather are perhaps the whitest pearls in my life. Among right-wing rants about President Obama being a socialist or how he no longer pays taxes, his voice becomes low as he recounts Saturdays spent collecting foil off the brick streets. Endless Saturdays, he would say. Until the war was over.

"What are they doing for us? Nothing. But against us they're doing a lot: creating anti-American terrorists in the countries they occupy," Walker continued.

Discontent and dissent are constant in times of war, staples even. An opposition to political war is always heard against an occupation or an invasion, always an opposition against acts of aggression. Patriotic at their core, sentiments expressed in any fashion, however ugly or cowardice, distasteful, unwarranted, unjustified, uncouth they may be, and the questioning of our republic is always welcome.

I've never been shot at, though. I've never signed away three years of my life in dedication to orders not yet given and not yet received. I've never given up my liberty to fight for the liberty of others. So I don't verbally abuse men and women who do. Call me old-fashioned.

Walker received a nice slap on the wrist, though, a nice insert from state Board of Regents President ProTem, Bruce Rastetter.

"I want to make it very clear that the Board of Regents does not share or support Mr. Walker's opinion. And that is exactly what it is, his opinion," Rastetter said. "I, along with many Iowans, was offended and disgusted by the unfortunate and highly inappropriate remarks made against our soldiers in uniform."

ISU also released a statement saying Walker did not speak for the university when he wrote to the school newspaper.

I don't care about the reputation of ISU or the regents. I care about what this is saying to students. Don't take initiative or start a collection for people you want to support, because you will get hounded by university faculty. Don't express yourself, because reactionary, academic liberals will shoot you out of the sky from their comfortable seats, tucked away in cozy offices where they can take for granted the basic rights they were born with.

I shouldn't say "they" — I apologize, I should just say "Walker."

"Why do Republicans care so much about the military? Because the military-industrial complex is dear to their simplistic laissez-faire fantasies: a bottom-line patriotism that excludes the people at the bottom," wrote Walker.

Because Walker, you get to sit back and lecture from a distance. You get to call what you see is right and wrong. You get subjectivity and autonomy of thought. But better yet, you get freedom of expression. I get freedom of the press. And we get this while soldiers sit in deserts halfway around the world, without their families at Christmas, doubting their nation's support.

So, by all means, voice your opinion. Just remember when you do, some soldier somewhere died for it.


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