Patriotism–Oberlin Style

This is in response to Max Kleinman’s letter to the editor (Spring 2002) wondering why he didn’t see any thoughtless flag-waving or gushing praise for Dubya [President Bush] on Oberlin’s campus. Kleinman thought that the talk of antiwar and military racism was just politically correct rhetoric. I disagree completely. Where does he think he is? Oberlinians are passionate about their beliefs. Students are informed and know what is going on in their world. For that very reason, Dubya’s approval at Oberlin should be a lot less than what is found in the country. Kleinman concluded that Oberlin was not allowing all perspectives to be heard in various campus publications. Having been in the minority with my beliefs about what the United States should be doing, I have dealt with very intolerant responses. If there are people at Oberlin who agree with the United States’ actions, I would hope that Oberlin would be a place where dialogue and understanding could occur, not isolation and silencing. I look forward to returning to Oberlin’s campus for my five-year reunion this May where I will see firsthand how Oberlin has responded to the disasters of September 11th.

Zelda Menard ’97
Boston, Massachusetts

Max Kleinman complained in his letter of a lack of a “sense of patriotism or support for the president or our armed forces” on the Oberlin campus and in Oberlin Reflections and The Oberlin Review and cited as “fact” that “88 percent of Americans support the president” in our war against terrorism. … Oberlinians and other Americans who oppose the war as unjust or unwise do have a duty to protest it. Else the president and Congress may not be moved to change our country’s policy. Patriotism neither requires nor precludes support for the war. Neither patriotism nor support for the war implies support for the president’s direction of the war as commander-in-chief. The well-known military analyst William Arkin, for example, is highly critical of the current administration’s policy of micromanagement from afar. One can support a war without believing that the war effort demands further tax cuts for the rich, large handouts of federal funds to large corporations, and government planning (other than military) in secrecy. That being said, I will add that I do favor a war against terrorists and nations that sustain terrorists … I suppose! For I am aware, especially in an era when much political (as well as military) “intelligence” is kept secret from the American public, that I lack sufficient information to be truly confident of this view.

Danny Kleinman ’57
Los Angeles, California

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