On my website I have included for several years a link to an image from the Washington Post of two American soldiers that were killed in the Sunni town of Ramadi in Iraq. This is a link to my website which contains the link, “Dead American Soldiers.” A student in my course, “Capitalism, Socialism and Social Justice” has a parent who has been in country. While this course does not deal with the topic of war, the student in the class had visited my website and e-mailed me the following message. Unless I receive explicit permission, I post student commentary without attribution so students can feel secure in communicating with me:
From: Francis Johnson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tue 10/2/2007 9:19 PM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
I would just like to know why you have pictures of dead troops on your website? I don’t think that it is necessary to have them on there and I personally find it rather offensive especially because my dad recently returned from there.
From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Wed 10/3/2007 6:58 AM
Dear Mr Johnson:
1) There are no pictures of dead soldiers on my website but there is a link to a photo in one of the world’s leading newspapers–The Washington Post. I also have a link to wounded as well and I wonder if that also disturbed you?
2) I believe it is important that we not glorify war. I think that we tend to forget that troops fight, die, kill and for me the horror of war needs to be projected as part of our assessment of war.
3) I respect your opinion but am not quite sure why it offends you. Do you believe there should be a blackout of all actions in war that are not pleasant? Do you think The Washington Post should not have run those photos? Do you believe war should be sanitized and its horror left out?
4) I think supporting the troops means getting them out of an immoral, illegal, and aggressive war. I think my role as an educator, a veteran, and an authority on war is to make sure we do not glorify it; we should only wage war if absolutely necessary, and should examine the sacrifices that are made in the name of politicians who take us to a war that I do not believe was just
I appreciate your contacting me and I encourage students to challenge my views.
See you soon,
Peter N. Kirstein
There was some proofreading editing but no changes in the substantive content.