Re: speaking out

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Tue Feb 01 2005 - 06:49:41 PST

This is by no means just a cultural legacy. There is a concerted political
effort underway, as celebrated in this January 14 opinion piece in the
Wall Street Journal:

On Tue, 1 Feb 2005, David Daniel Preiss Contreras wrote:

> For what is worth, and making clear that I am a relative outsider in the
> academic community of the USA, studying there my experience was that speaking
> aloud about so-called political issues was judged inadequate for some student
> colleagues around, who did not want to bring this issues to their jobs or to
> their email inboxes. The problem is, of course, that some of those so-called
> political issues are ethical issues. Torture is wrong. Preventive wars are
> wrong. Killing tens of civilians is wrong. Hiding the American casualties
> from the public view is wrong. Making death and genocide relative is wrong.
> And it is totally right to say that they are wrong. What is wrong is to keep
> silence.
> I remember being bitten for raising the issue of Abu Graib when sending a
> link to the torture pics by a student who thought I was taking an inadequate
> stand. What was my right to judge these soldiers, this guy implied. I assume
> he was mad at the fact that I was not American as well and was judging
> American actions. I did not want to enter into a discussion about how
> commonly the USA judge the practices of others and how I had a right to
> openly criticize torture and how relevant it was to do that in an academic
> context. I just asserted my right to criticize torture everywhere it happens.
> Unfortunately, during all my years at the USA, I never heard any graduate
> student talking aloud against the Iraqi war or against the militrary
> practices of the government but in some local issues that are politically
> correct. I heard them too much talking about their academic work as if that
> work happened in a miracolous vacuum.
> If the students don't speak out, who does? I remember that during those days
> an email written by Zimbardo talking about students' apathy circulated. I
> wonder how students apathy has been build and fostered by the academic
> community. Do students feel afraid that they might not get a job if they come
> out and talk? Or they do not feel an ethical concern about what is going on?
> I assume that some people don;t speak out by academic politeness. But, when
> does academic politenness turn out to be ethically dangerous?
> David D. Preiss
> home page:

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

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