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Jus in bello’ or just in bad taste?

Jay Rowley | Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I believe that members of the ROTC program sincerely pray for peace, as no one suffers the burdens of war more than our nation’s military and their families. For this reason, it is troubling to see the invitation to Colman McCarthy to serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s 2011 Student Peace Conference (April 1-2) put on by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. The Kroc Institute’s website describes Mr. McCarthy as a “renowned journalist, teacher and peace activist” who has had editorials printed in a number of prominent newspapers. In one such editorial, Mr. McCarthy directly mentioned the ROTC program at Notre Dame. Disputing Father Hesburgh’s view that the program serves as a way to “Christianize the military,” Mr. McCarthy asked if there was a “Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus.” While it may come as a surprise to Mr. McCarthy, the American military does not seek to engage in any of these activities. Rather, it serves to impartially defend the nation by carrying out the just orders of our democratically elected leaders.

Mr. McCarthy continued his criticism, drawing a shameful and absurd parallel between the U.S. Army and the Taliban. He concluded by labeling its academics as “laughably weak,” comprised of “softie courses” and its members as poor pawns that signed on because “they were mainly from families that couldn’t afford ever-rising college tabs.”

Mr. McCarthy, I firmly believe that the cadets and midshipmen here joined ROTC because of their love for the nation, choosing to dedicate their lives to defending the values that make it great and making peace possible. It would be unfortunate for you to forget that all of these values, including the freedom to criticize the military without fear of retribution, were bought with the blood of America’s men and women in uniform. Perhaps on your visit you can take a walk to Stonehenge, a monument to the Notre Dame graduates killed serving in foreign wars, as a reminder of the price of this freedom.

Jay Rowley


off campus

Mar. 29