BLACKSBURG, VA – With taxes on the rise and government clamoring for more spending, why are Virginia taxpayers subsidizing the activities of a Virginia Tech professor who attacks the United States and our troops? On Sunday Salon.com published a piece by Tech English professor Steve Salaita where the professor equates “supporting our troops” with jingoism and American imperialism.
Salaita goes so far as to belittle our troops in the field and calls them beggars:
In addition to donating change to the troops, we are repeatedly impelled to “support our troops” or to “thank our troops.” God constantly blesses them. Politicians exalt them. We are warned, “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.” One wonders if our troops are the ass-kicking force of P.R. lore or an agglomeration of oversensitive duds and beggars.
Such troop worship is trite and tiresome, but that’s not its primary danger. A nation that continuously publicizes appeals to “support our troops” is explicitly asking its citizens not to think. It is the ideal slogan for suppressing the practice of democracy, presented to us in the guise of democratic preservation.
Salaita certainly has a right to his opinion. Taxpayers have a right to ask if they should be forced to subsidize it. Salaita argues that “troop worship” is encouraging citizens not to think. On the contrary, non-governmental efforts to support our troops does just the opposite. As someone who opposed President Bush’s attack on Iraq and who now opposes President Obama’s sabre rattling in Syria, I appreciate the opportunity to show support for our men and women in uniform. For those of us who do oppose war, we are afforded the opportunity to do so AND support the men and women who volunteer to lay their lives on the line for their country. Soldiers don’t start wars.
I know, Salaita has First Amendment rights and must be afforded “academic freedom”. He certainly has a right to free speech. That does not mean taxpayers (or tuition paying parents) should be forced to subsidize it. As for academic freedom, this doesn’t apply. Salaita is paid to teach English. He is a tenured professor at a large, state-supported university. As such he is a representative of that school.
In a state with the proud military tradition of Virginia (a state which is one of two with state-supported military colleges) and which serves as the home base for tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines should the state taxpayer be subsidizing such an individual. If Salaita worked in the private sector, he would be on his way out if he hadn’t been escorted out on Monday.