Thursday, February 16, 2006

A letter to the UW Senate

One of my favorite comments to this post on the UW kerfuffle was from James, who tried to share the letter he wrote in reaction to the story. However - the comment limitation chopped off the last part of his quote, cutting off the end of the note. I wanted to pull this out to help visitors find and read it, so I emailed James and asked if he would mind, and he didn't. He also added a preface to frame the letter for us.

After reading the Student Senate minutes, I was pretty livid. I could tell there was some heated debate, and that a few students stood ground. Unfortunately, the minutes also cited some bonehead comments. I couldn’t believe such a state of denial existed. Worse, these are the supposed to be the sharp ones, the intelligence continuum our country needs now more than ever. I authored this letter and sent it to the top three student senate leaders, in addition to the university president. I hope it gets to those who really need to read it.

"Hi guys. I just finished reading the minutes of your meeting on the Pappy dedication, and must say, I'm pretty much speechless. I'm not speechless because of the insults to the military. That's pretty much an expected thing from the liberal students. I'm speechless because I can't believe your some of council, as student leaders, said probably the dumbest things I've ever heard in a public forum. Your council is now a globally known example of how to say something really stupid - without an ounce of knowledge on the subject - and making your university look just as bad in-turn.

First, pass a word to Ashley Miller that Mr. Boyington is a SIOUX indian, not a "rich white man". Thanks for putting another post-pubescent bruise on the historic work of our civil rights leaders. I'm sure they will be proud of her comment. If not, I'm confident most have a high desire to rise from the grave. She deserves one of those "foot in mouth awards" you see on late night TV.

Second, your council is due congratulations on making history. I will mark down that this was the day our veterans were (un)officially labeled "baby killers". No, Jill Edwards never said those exact words, but the rest of the world certainly took it as such.

Third, on a more personal note, let me pass to you the disgust I feel as a veteran. Aside from hanging a large virtual sign in front of your campus saying "VETERANS NOT WELCOME HERE", your leaders have added additional credibility to the case that veterans will continue to pull your weight on top of our own when dealing with a dangerous world.

When will your fellow students understand that in most of this world, they are hated with no regard to life, or property, or really anything at all? Not because they are American, but because they are different in (insert reason here). Pick any reason, it doesn't matter. These people want to chop you and every other western world person into little bloody squares because some psychotic religious leader told them Allah wants them to.

I really wish I could transmit to Jill Edwards or Ashley Miller the picture memories of Kurdish torture rooms where prisoners scribbled (in arabic) "I love you" to their wives and children with whatever they could find, nails, rocks, charcoal. We think they locked them up until they starved to death, but couldn't tell. Or... how I felt seeing the bones of what we thought were Kurdish children, scattered throughout the soil of a shallow field. You see, they were little bones - a little arm bone here, a little leg bone there, tossed up by our trenching machines. No one really knew because there were no witnesses, no records, and we were pretty much used to seeing this kind of thing around the area.

I never thought I would break down and sob in a war zone, but this was the exception. I held it in, keeping a straight face, and found a nice private place behind a building to cry like a frikken baby.

But I can't transmit to you those memories, which in true honesty, were only about 1% of what our Army brothers and sisters were dealing with - every day for a year. I was only there for a couple of months before moving on to other locations, but had seen enough.

I was considering graduate work in engineering at UW, but it will be a cold day in hell after reading those minutes. I'll go elsewhere - I'm not welcome.

(An AF Reserve Captain happy to be home)"

My thanks to James for sharing, and my humble thanks for his service. If you do make it here to the PNW, James - the first beers are on me!