“Comments by a small number of individuals at the town hall meeting have not changed my positive experiences at Columbia,” Maschek wrote. “Thus far, my fellow students have been very interested in hearing about my past life and military experiences. Columbia has been attempting to get more veterans to share their experiences here, and the atmosphere here has been supportive despite the actions of a very small minority of the town hall participants.”I noted yesterday that Thomas E. Ricks got it wrong and C.I.'s "On speaking and being booed in a democracy" was correct. Here is some of what C.I. wrote:
But if you get before an audience -- and I have many, many times -- three's a chance you're going to get booed. If you don't want to be booed, don't put yourself out there.
The veteran took a highly unpopular stand. He was allowed to speak, people were allowed to register their objection.
From the Daily Mail story, that's what happened. The only other news report is from the New York Post (I don't know right wing blogs and don't know how to evaluate them so I'm not looking at them). Again, oh well.
The outrage, I do want to note, that is being churned is being churned by the Daily Mail and the New York Post. The veteran is not quoted boo-hooing that he got booed. He's been in combat, I don't think he's a cry baby. He's seen a lot worse than a negative reaction to his taking what (he must have known) was an unpopular position.
He obviously believes in his position or he wouldn't have taken it. Why did he face an angry crowd? Because he probably hopes that his remarks would lay the groundwork for them to reconsider. And it might. Or it might make it easier for the next person who speaks out in the same manner. The veteran doesn't seem stupid -- the press does -- I doubt he expected a standing ovation. I would guess his hopes were more along the lines of "I'll plant some seeds and maybe they'll sprout in a few weeks or months."
That's what we all do, regardless of the issue and our position, when we speak out on something that's unpopular.
That is the point of the article in the student newspaper, that the outrage is being pushed from outside. C.I. was right there and she was also right about it not being a big deal to the veteran.
Good for Anthony Maschek who is a grad student at the university and obviously far wiser than many reporters. He firmly believes he was in Iraq fighting for freedom. I firmly disagree that was why the US was in Iraq. But good for him for not being a hypocrite. If you believe Iraq was about freedom, then you don't come back to the US and try to dismantle freedom. Whether you agree with his opinions on Iraq or not (or his opinions on the ROTC or not), we should all be able to agree that freedom is something to value and embrace in the US.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):