Professor Michael Avery, a specialist in constitutional law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston sent out an email criticising the solicitation of care-packages for U.S. Troops, the following is the email as found in its entirety.
I think it is shameful that it is perceived as legitimate to solicit in an academic institution for support for men and women who have gone overseas to kill other human beings. I understand that there is a residual sympathy for service members, perhaps engendered by support for troops in World War II, or perhaps from when there was a draft and people with few resources to resist were involuntarily sent to battle. That sympathy is not particularly rational in today’s world, however.
The United States may well be the most war prone country in the history of civilization. We have been at war two years out of three since the Cold War ended. We have 700 overseas military bases. What other country has any? In the last ten years we have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary foreign invasions. Those are dollars that could have been used for people who are losing their homes due to the economic collapse, for education, to repair our infrastructure, or for any of a thousand better purposes than making war. And of course those hundreds of billions of dollars have gone for death and destruction.
Perhaps some of my colleagues will consider this to be an inappropriate political statement. But of course the solicitation email was a political statement, although cast as support for student activities. The politics of that solicitation are that war is legitimate, perhaps inevitable, and that patriotic Americans should get behind our troops.
We need to be more mindful of what message we are sending as a school. Since Sept. 11 we have had perhaps the largest flag in New England hanging in our atrium. This is not a politically neutral act. Excessive patriotic zeal is a hallmark of national security states. It permits, indeed encourages, excesses in the name of national security, as we saw during the Bush administration, and which continue during the Obama administration.
Why do we continue to have this oversized flag in our lobby? Why are we sending support to the military instead of Americans who are losing their homes, malnourished, unable to get necessary medical care, and suffering from other consequences of poverty? As a university community, we should debate these questions, not remain on automatic pilot in support of the war agenda.