Friday, February 28, 2003

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SHAME, SHAME: As Michael Green

SHAME, SHAME: As Michael Green and Jacob Levy have already pointed out, "No War in Iraq, the University of Chicago group devoted to actively opposing the war in Iraq," which receives funding from multiple university accounts, has published a brief collection of opinion pieces from professors regarding the merits of a war with Iraq.

According to the group:

"No War in Iraq... has chosen to put together this journal of essays because we recognize the grays in the world, and because we still oppose a war in Iraq.... We wanted to put together a journal with opinions both supporting and opposing a war in Iraq.

We wanted readers to get both sides, to see the complexity and come to an educated decision, as we had. When we started soliciting essays, we realized that this task would be more difficult than we had originally thought. While it was fairly easy to find faculty who opposed the war, finding faculty who supported it was a much more difficult task. We followed every lead we had and in most cases learned that the faculty we were told probably supported a war really were not sure where they stood (This is with the exception of Richard Posner of the Law School, whoes (sic) contribution and willingness to participate despite the lack of other pro-war essays we greatly appreciate). While we were trying to convey the honest disagreement within the academic community at the University, we found it difficult to find many professors who supported a war in Iraq. Our impression was that there may not be so much disagreement after all, and that there is general skepticism surrounding the Bush administration's policies on Iraq." (my bold italics)

If this is their story, then these individuals have displayed neither the research skills nor the intellectual curiosity to merit being University of Chicago students. Go to Jacob Levy's post to see particular individuals on campus that believe an attack on Iraq would be justified. They most certainly did not follow every lead.

If this group was serious in its endeavor to present a balanced debate, all that was needed was a mass e-mail to solicit faculty positions on the war. At a minimum, such an e-mail should have been sent to faculty affiliated with the Political Science department, Middle Eastern Studies, International Studies, Public Policy, and/or Philosophy. No email was sent.

The only conceivable defense I can think of for their error was a belief that the contributors had to come from different departments in the university and didn't want too many political science professors. However, the fact that they were able to squeeze in two English professors suggests that perhaps I'm being too generous.

Let me make it clear that if No War in Iraq had only wanted to publish a collection of antiwar pieces, that would have been perfectly appropriate, given the group's raison d'etre. What offends me is their initial claim that they wanted to publish a collection of diverse opinions and then their subsequent claim that they were unable to find any diversity of thought on campus. At the University of Chicago, if you can't find diversity of thought among the faculty, you're not looking hard enough.

It gives me no pleasure to write about this. I don't like publicly criticizing undergraduates on campus. Being at college is all about going on an intellectual journey, one that usually has its share of embarrassing stops along the way.

However, I find the incident I've just related so contrary to this university's principles of open debate that it's worth blogging about it.

posted by Dan on 02.28.03 at 12:58 PM