The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Necessity no excuse for immorality

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enough with this nationalism!

Charles Cossell (“Removing Raytheon not enough,” Sept. 17) asserts that “it is blood money that has brought about our nation’s freedom.” Before spewing more nationalistic, logically empty rhetoric (old news), how about a look at some other things that have brought about rights and freedoms?

1. Freedoms: of speech, of religion, to keep and bear arms, of assembly, to petition, from unreasonable search and seizure … you know the rest (hopefully).

Method: A bunch of really smart, good, respectable people (like Notre Dame students are supposed to be?) sit in a room and intelligently debate what government should do.

Outcome: a republic that would become increasingly democratic.

2. Right: free public education.

Method: social movements for education reform.

Outcome: educated citizens create a more democratic democracy.

3. Freedoms: female, poor and minority people gain the vote.

Methods: Marches, petitions, assemblies, civil disobedience, declarations of conscience.

Outcome: even more democracy.

4. Freedom: to be an irresponsible citizen.

Methods: ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, fundamentalism, false comparison and false simplification; belief that there is a single (military) solution for any threat; corporate control of the media; ignorance about social problems; and excess power in the hands of the executive.

Outcome: the dissolution of democracy and its freedoms.

So war profiteering has never been a preferred or successful method for gaining freedom in this country nor in other lands. Maybe people want to make weapons over wealth, political power or another idol, but those are not freedom. A positive form of freedom (“freedom to” rather than “freedom from”) is strengthened by debate and people with strong consciences.

To Jim Napier (“Raytheon an important aspect of national defense,” Sept. 17) and Cossell, both of whose responses try to convince us of the necessity of violence to freedom: remember that not all who want integrity from institutions are pacifists.

On an institutional level, Notre Dame has a chance to tell these folks to get their moral acts together – obviously, Notre Dame opposes torture, extraordinary rendition, war profiteering and indiscriminate killing (by cluster bombs, for example). “You can do better,” we can say, without even threatening the existence of those companies – let alone taking an institutionally pacifist stance.

The argument against Raytheon and other morally inept institutions stands; arguing that violence is necessary for freedom does nothing against it.

Let’s suppose someone did make an argument based on pacifism. During Pax Romana, which Napier uses as evidence in his letter, many Christians chose martyrdom because they could not in good conscience participate in the military pursuits of the empire.

The Catholic Church still affirms both pacifist and just war stances.

Kristi Haas



Sept. 17