Cheryl: USAFA Community Website Responds to Antiwar E-mail to Air Force Cadet: Long Live Academic Freedom! [Updated]

A thank you to a loyal source who supplied me with this information concerning Cheryl’s post. I have subsequently learned her last name from a third party e-mail-which I presume is accurate– but since her son is serving in time of war, I will be prudent and use only her first name which appeared in the initial blog post on the AFA [United States Air Force Academy] website. I assume she is using her real name as well. While this stuff is blood sport for me, I am sensitive to people’s concerns and vulnerabilities.

It’s great to be back in the Air Force target selection again. Cheryl is now aware of my contretemps with the academy and posted this item on the USAFA Community website. Cheryl, is from Mississippi–REMEMBER JAMES MEREDITH— and has a son who graduated from the academy and is now stationed at Barksdale, AFB in Louisiana. She should be complimented for accuracy in quoting me and my reaction to the e-mail. Not too many have been as careful as Cheryl. Generally speaking, the academy acted honourably in this case and frankly did not support my suspension or reprimand. Captain Borders in particular was quite aware that academic freedom, free speech, dissent– even when provocative– and infuriating speech are protected and that some who serve in the military conceive it as a mission of their service.

I will continue to speak out against censorship, barbaric war, inhumane militarism and American imperialism as long as I can. To suspend faculty for engaging in conversation with individuals who are not their students or even affiliated with their institution is suggestive of coercive efforts to restrict speech and punish the unpopular. Work for peace. Reduce the defence budget. Feed the people. Provide health care for ALL Americans. Remove veterans from rat infested hospitals and provide them with appropriate care. End the nuclear arms race and stop the mass murder in Iraq and Afghanistan!!

Cheryl’s post unedited. I added a link in addition to hers but did not alter the text:

In 2002, a USAFA Cadet sent out emails to Professors at Universities around the world asking them to send students to USAFA to participate in an Academy Assembly event. One of the Professors that received the cadet’s email was a professor of history at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois.

In response to the cadet’s email, Kirstein’s response – which was passed all around USAFA and then to USAFA parents all over the world – started a firestorm that crashed the phone and internet systems at St. Xavier University. I have never seen the parents of cadets unite so solidly.

This is an example of when parent involvement worked for the good of the cadets. Subsequently Professor Kirstein was reprimanded and suspended from his job.

This is current news because as you will see at the end of this post, Professor Kirstein has put himself back in the news.

Below is the jest of his email reply to the young cadet who requested his presence at the Assembly – with his comments as of today after each statement he made to the cadet 6 years ago.

From Prof. Kirstein to Cadet Robert Kurpiel: (Bold are his comments in his original email reply……….Following are his comments as of today.[Actually, Cheryl retrieved this from a blog post on the fourth anniversary of the e-mail, October 31, 2006, but are still valid today. She might wish to see my YouTube video at New York University that covers this incident in more detail.]

1) You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage.

1) I should have not called him a “disgrace.” My fury at being solicited is reasonable and just. My accusation of “aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage” was the most controversial statement of my career and I believe was the fulcrum that led to my suspension. I stand by that charge and have defended it with lectures on college campuses throughout the United States. I believe U.S. military tactics are obscene, frequently engage in wanton destruction beyond military necessity and their destruction of innocents, such as babies, are dismissed with the monstrously understated and dehumanising term of “collateral damage.” The military uses such patois to shroud and deny their own actions and the horrors perpetrated during war. Over 600,000 Iraqis have died since the March 19, 2003 invasion and many of these casualties have been non-combatants including children killed in a ruthless and barbaric manner by American military personnel.

2) Help you recruit? Who, top guns to rain death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world?

2) The cadet was not asking me to recruit directly students or applicants to the academy but certainly wanted me to engage political science students to attend an “Academy Assembly” at the Colorado Springs institution. “Top Guns” are navy pilots such as the folks at the infamous sex orgy Tailhook convention a few years ago but I used that term in a generic manner to refer to the slick, macho culture, Tom Cruise, superpersons who pilot machines and deploy in a cowardly and feckless manner missiles and bombs on unsuspecting “targets” below. I do not think it honourable to train someone to fly an aeroplane or helicopter to kill people. It is barbaric and inhumane to train humans to apply technology in this manner.

3) Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour.

3) I recognized when I was writing the e-mail that cadets were not yet commissioned officers and that was an obvious error. Only upon graduation are they commissioned as lieutenants in the air force. The statement “serve your country with honour” was robust and harsh but I believe that killing is dishonourable, that military service is not the most appropriate form of patriotic service and that wars, particularly America’s wars, do “dishonour” a nation and those who wage it. For those who believe military service is honourable, and I concede the other side of the argument is worthy of debate, they should realistically assess the carnage and devastation that emanates from America’s war crimes. I am entitled to my opinion recognizing that military personnel may be guided by a sense of duty, but the act of killing and training to kill is so destructive of civilisation that we must stop the unquestioned glorification of military service.

4) No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries without AAA, without possibility of retaliation.

4) I stand by that and I have a right as a military veteran, United States Army Reserves, and as an American to voice that opinion. Now they use pilotless “Predators,” that are remotely controlled by some officer thousands of miles away in the United States, to bomb “high-value targets” etc. Is a suicide bomber, who knows he or she will die, any less honourable than Americans in a aeroplane that flies beyond anti-aircraft range and drops its ordinance, probably in an indiscriminate manner, on humans below? I do not think it courageous for pilots to engage in these actions, although personally they may have attributes that are not cowardly or pusillanimous.

5) You are worse than the snipers.

5) This was in reference to the D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo who terrorized the D.C. area for some three weeks in October 2002. They killed ten people and one recently admitted to additional killings. My statement in terms of numbers was accurate. So many people are killed in war that the comparison is valid. Also as we have seen in Iraq, marines and army personnel have killed innocent Iraqis, invaded their homes, raped and murdered women, tortured to death Iraqis in prisons. No not all American military personnel behave in this manner but I do stand by this statement in terms of quantity and specific actions in which hundreds of thousands of non-combatants have been killed in Iraq.

6) You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us.

6) I am proud of that observation and how accurate it was in light of the war that was to come. We are the most reviled and least admired nation on Earth right now. Many polls verify this decline in prestige from Europe to Asia. [This was before the 2008 election. PNK]

7) September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to the Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra.
7) Without presenting an exposition on each of the four examples, since I have written on this elsewhere, there is no doubt that the September 11 attacks were not mere purposeless terrorism but retaliation in an ongoing war between the U.S. and Islam. The issue of stateless Palestinians, murderous sanctions then imposed on Iraq, the stationing of American forces in Saudi Arabia and the biased, almost obsequious support of Israel were factors that led to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. The empire strikes back and America fails to see its own culpabilities and sins as it describes its adversaries as “terrorists” without recognizing its own contribution to international savagery and anarchy with our “terrorist” wars and lust for violence and military conquest.
8) You are unworthy of my support.

8) I should not have implied that the cadet personally was “unworthy.” I meant that my participating in a recruiting exercise for the Air Force Academy at a time when war with Iraq was becoming increasingly likely, was unworthy of my time and effort. I cannot and will not retract that sentiment. The St Xavier University chapter of the American Association of University Professors issued a report about a year later defending my rights. It appeared on George Mason University’s History News Network. This was a refereed article in Situation Analysis in the United Kingdom that summarised and placed the case in historical perspective.

The Professor’s comments today
(He’s put himself back in the news because he’s protesting Wikipedia censoring him.)
He says: Recently Wikipedia has engaged in reprehensible and indefensible behaviour in censoring my blog link to their entry on academic freedom. Gwen Gail, an administrator at Wikipedia has prohibited me from posting a mere link to my blog. If you are interested in reading more about this Professor you can Google him or even send him a little message if you so choose. E-mail [Why don’t you Cheryl? It’s your idea!]


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