The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Their values and mine

 Their values and mine
Their values and mine

Their values and mine

At one point during the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur seriously proposed dropping nuclear bombs in order to eliminate the North Korean and Chinese air power. Thankfully, this never occurred.

Later that decade, as the French were losing control of their colonies in Southeast Asia, some elements within the French government asked U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower for assistance, including, with all seriousness, the potential use of a nuclear weapon. Eisenhower rejected the nuclear option out of hand.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson won the presidential election partly by portraying his Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, as a dangerous radical nationalist who could easily start World War III.

Johnson was quite correct to do this, since Goldwater had suggested that the rapidly worsening situation in Vietnam could be dealt with by authorizing U.S. commanders to use tactical nuclear weapons.

As it happened, Johnson plunged America into a full-fledged war anyway, but who knows what would have happened under Goldwater. Four years later, Air Force General Curtis LeMay ran for vice president as running mate for notorious segregationist George Wallace, with a strategy for Vietnam that centered on LeMay’s pledge to “bomb North Vietnam back to the Stone Age.”

LeMay also once told a reporter that the solution to problems in the Middle East and Vietnam was to “nuke the gooks and ragheads.”

The Wallace-LeMay ticket, like Goldwater, captured the Deep South, and the victorious Richard Nixon seemed to take LeMay’s proposals to heart.

I mention all of this because of some of the recent observations made about the anti-war sentiment in America and around the world. While the public outcry has been truly historic, domestic opinion has fluctuated largely on what the conflict holds in store for American soldiers.

If victory seems to be within sight, without the probability of large numbers of American casualties, the public tends to swing behind the war. However, real or perceived setbacks have been known to produce significant and sudden swings in national feeling.

If Americans are getting killed in more than very small numbers, and if it looks like the hostilities will last indefinitely, the public has a problem with it. If Americans are doing the majority of the killing and largely getting away unscathed, then objections are greatly lessened.

To be sure, many people around the world grew angry while American aircraft demolished Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, dropping a greater tonnage of explosives than were dropped by all air forces in World War II, inflicting astonishing suffering upon the civilian population. For many others, though, the key issue was the war’s likelihood of victory, not its level of righteousness.

It didn’t matter that three nations, especially Vietnam, were essentially ruined, with millions killed and maimed, future generations damaged in the womb due to toxins, and much infrastructure destroyed. In the final analysis, the Asian victims were just gooks.

Little has changed today. About a year ago, I found myself in an exasperating long-distance argument with a young neoconservative woman who simply could not understand why Goldwater was seen as crazy.

University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen sometimes tells a story of participating in a protest in Austin against the sanctions imposed on the people of Iraq. Professor Jensen held a sign with a slogan to the effect of “One million dead Iraqis. How many is enough?”

A man approached Jensen, looked at his sign, asked “How about two million?” and walked on.

At the very first demonstration I ever participated in, coinciding with President Bush’s fund-raising trip to Moody Coliseum, passing motorists yelled “Bomb the sand niggers” and “Nuke Iraq” (mispronounced as eye-rack, as usual). “Nuke Iraq” signs have also been appearing at pro-war demonstrations and greeted with cheers.

Early next month, I hope I get a chance to ask Vice President Cheney the same question I’ve been asking ever since the war on Iraq was seriously proposed: Minus the sanctions that have kept the Iraqis prostrate, how is Saddam’s regime different from any of the others overthrown from within, and why has the U.S. deliberately prevented such an overthrow?

If the answer I receive is the usual (and inappropriate) “Everything changed after Sept. 11,” then I will have no doubt left that I have been correct from the start.

From the white-flight towns and suburbs of America to the highest echelons of power, Muslims, specifically Arab Muslims, are seen as subhuman creatures that need to be pounded into submission.

A war based on greed makes sense within a framework of insanity. A war based on prejudice is just insane. Right now, I think we have both.

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