Whether or not you agree with the political and social implications of advancing our troops into Iraq, it is obvious that this war underscores many of the central values that lack definition on our campus. I have often harped on the Quinnipiac community as being part of an imaginary bubble, sheltering us from the rest of the tumultuous world. To show true patriotism, we as individuals on this campus and in this American society need to seriously evaluate our personal principles and standards.
It is painful to listen to many students discuss the war with Iraq: Many have misinformed or uniformed opinions, but lack the humility to admit it. Although the overwhelming majority of students have strong views either for or against the war, few can argue their positions beyond the rhetoric that has been offered by the 30-second news clips on CNN or FOX. My advice to these students is simple: unless you spend time really investigating your beliefs, backing them up with strong and intelligent information, please do not rush to judgment before taking a stance.
Since war has broke, I have found that many opinions expressed on campus have been vulgar and ignorant, not to mention un-American. In private conversation, some students have suggested the use of nuclear weapons against Iraq, regardless of civilian casualties. Others believe that the world would be better off if we could just eliminate the Middle east altogether. These opinions do an injustice to the education that we are receiving as well as the values and principles upon which America has been built. While it is natural to want the war to end quickly, it is important to remember that Iraqis did not choose, nor are they responsible for their place of birth any more than you or me. America is powerful because we have shown and continue to show compassion for people of all religions, from all countries without regard to political beliefs or ethnicity.
Others on the opposite end of the spectrum have suggested that President Bush is just a war mongrel interested in exploiting Iraqi oil resources. While oil is an essential part of the equation in the war with Iraq, the left-wing protestors who defame the President with their poorly researched assertions fail to address the issue intelligently. The biggest reason that we want to explore the oil resources is for the benefit of the Iraqi people. The United Nations established an oil-for-food program after the last war that requires the Iraqi government to use oil revenue to feed, clothe and medicate its fragile and impoverished population. Perhaps in their effort to deride the President’s insistence on liberating the Iraqi people, liberals have forgotten that the President must withdraw his earnings from the market, make his personal income public and release claims to investments before taking the oath of office. Furthermore, the international community would never allow Americans to exploit the oil in Iraq for gain. The United States is not an imperial power-that much is clear. For those who believe that we are going to take over Iraq and swallow up its resources, your opinions are seemingly based on an imaginary construct of the world: not reasonable observations and conclusions.
Above all, we must remember that although the war is popular and President Bush is riding high in the polls, we must allow and encourage dissention. This nation was founded on the right of the few to actively protest against the beliefs of the many. I have supported using military force in Iraq since Clinton was president. However, if 5,000 people want to march down dorm road chanting “death to Bush” and “we love Saddam,” they have my best wishes because we are Americans and have the right to free speech.
My advice to uninformed Quinnipiac students is to go back to your hometown, track down your fifth grade history teachers and review the constitution. Because after paying more than $30,000 a year to attend a private university in the richest state in the wealthiest country in the world, many of the privileged youths among us still make un-educated, uninformed judgments. So I ask you all what’s worse: uneducated Iraqis who hate us because they do not know better? Or educated Americans who hate the Iraqis despite knowing better?
Now, as we deploy more and more eighteen and nineteen year-olds overseas to fight this war, I can’t help but think how petty and ridiculous many of our problems seem.