CIA, Raytheon’s place at ND debated
Michael Angulo | Thursday, September 20, 2007
Country, God, Notre Dame. Perhaps this should be the new sequence of our University’s age-old maxim. Because, as Nic Ponzio wrote in his letter (“Keep the career fair unrestricted,” Sept. 19), refusing organizations with policies at odds with our University’s mission statement “would infringe upon our duty to pay service to our country.” We must, therefore, place our obligations to the state above any sort of pursuit of justice and the common good.
Unfortunately for Ponzio’s argument, our mission statement makes no mention of any requirement for our University to lay down its principles at the hands of the state. In fact, it seems to say the opposite.
It says we, as a University, should try to become more aware of the injustices that are a crushing burden for so many in the world. It does not say to ignore these injustices when they are committed by our own government or the corporations which support our military-industrial complex. It does not say to work for justice until such a quest finds you questioning your own government and those connected to it. It does not say that the common good means the good of the state.
I am also concerned that Ponzio, and perhaps others, do not understand the depth to which both the CIA and Raytheon contradict our University’s mission. Ponzio would have us think that the manufacturing of deadly weapons only constitutes a “small aspect” of Raytheon’s work. Unfortunately, this assumption could not be further from the truth. The Army Times Publishing Company, a leading military and government news publisher, found that 96.1 percent of Raytheon’s revenues came from military contracts with the Department of Defense. Last year the company’s revenues came to $20.2 billion. Consequently, Raytheon received over $19 billion in one year alone in arms production – hardly a small aspect by any stretch of the imagination.
The rÃ©sumÃ© of the CIA is scarred with torture, forced disappearance and the operation of secret prisons. Just today, The Economist raised concerns about the “black sites” where detainees are held by the CIA, the existence of which President Bush admitted last year. Oddly enough, Ponzio accepted such evidence as valid yet still believes that our mission to support the government supercedes such scandalous injustice.
If Ponzio delved deeper into Notre Dame’s history, he would find a story of another student protest against the CIA. In 1968, pressure from students forced the University to reevaluate its position on campus recruitment. But while students during the height of the Vietnam era questioned the morality of involvement with such an organization, Ponzio might refer to such actions as “asinine and ignorant.” I would say these actions are worthy of a more serious, mature reflection.
While Ponzio hopes to keep the Job Fair “unrestricted,” regrettably, the only restriction at yesterday’s event was imposed against student free speech. A total of six Notre Dame students, including myself, were kicked out of the event by NDSP officers for handing out information on the CIA and Raytheon. As individual students, we are apparently not allowed to express our concern for issues that form the cornerstone of our University. It seems as though Nic Ponzio is not alone in his view.
Country, God, Notre Dame indeed.