(Captain's log): A long-time reader sends me the following:
My husband is in the Army and we're on a post in Germany. I have a job working in administration for one of the American universities that offers classes for degree-seeking enlisted soldiers on post. This weekend there was a seminar on Nazi Germany, so I had to pop in and out of the office twice during the 16-hour-long seminar. It seems like more than a coincidence that both times I was in my office next-door to the open classroom, I heard the professor complaining about the current US administration.
The first time, on Saturday, he was lecturing about how, despite what any sources say to the contrary, the American government does not give any humanitarian aid to foreign nations. He said that all American aid comes with strings attached, unlike aid from other countries like Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany. He said that the US does not donate any money in the world for purely humanitarian causes. I couldn't help but be shocked by this statement, considering that he was lecturing to 16 American soldiers and family members. I thought it was rather gutsy of him to make such statements.
I had to stop by the office again on Sunday afternoon, and this time I heard the professor talking about the current situation in Iraq and how out-of-control it is. He said something like "when Pres Bush landed on that jet carrier, he knew there was no reason to go to war with Iraq, and neither did a majority of Americans. And the situation in Iraq is dreadful right now and getting worse every day." One meek soldier spoke up and said, "But AFN [American Forces Network, the tv provider here] says that it's getting better every day." The rest of the students laughed, and the professor said something basically to the effect that AFN is not telling the truth, and that "maybe you haven't had the chance to talk to soldiers who are in Iraq right now, but morale is low and things are getting worse." As I disgustedly left the building, I heard a student talking about how originally she thought going to Iraq was a good idea because she had been duped into thinking that the Iraqi people really wanted us there.
What is happening to our education system? I know that a great majority of professors are quite liberal and often anti-American, but I expected more from professors who are teaching our soldiers! These are young men who have not taken many college courses; all they have is their military experiences and here some professor is telling them that their personal experiences are invalid and their AFN is lying. And what in the HELL does any of this have to do with a course on Nazi Germany? Why is this professor using his course to promote his own agenda?
I wish to God I had been a student in that class so I could have spoken my mind. This professor was not telling the truth or providing any proof of what he said (he once said, "if you don't believe me, you can look it up" as justification), and now 16 soldiers have doubts about their role in world events. But I fear it's not just these 16; how many other courses has this professor taught to our soldiers, and how many more professors are there like him on our military posts?
And what can we do to stop this?
I think publicity would help. Cockroaches don't like bright lights.
Update: As the press has seemed to work overtime to try to make the situation in Iraq look as bad as possible, bloggers have increasingly been working to try to give voice to those who, as the professor says, actually have been in Iraq and who, despite what the professor says, say things are in fact going quite well in most of the country. On an ongoing basis, Glenn Reynolds has been collating links to such reports. (I won't be; it's not the kind of thing I do. If you find such things, send them to him.)
There's a blog dedicated to posting reports from American servicemen called Front Line Voices. Meanwhile, Chief Wiggles is actually serving in the Gulf right now and has sponsored a drive to send toys to Iraqi children.
Update: Sparky had a similar experience in college. But Porphyrogenitus says I'm engaged in an impossible task.
Update: Marc Miyake has some commentary on this.
Update: TM Lutas says that there are ways and means to deal with this kind of thing.
Update 20031007: It turns out that Sarah, the author of this letter, has her own blog and has been posting followups there.