PROFESSOR PETER KIRSTEIN, who apparently found out about InstaPundit via the Chicago Tribune article earlier this week, sent me an email responding to a post I had on his situation when the story broke last fall. (Here is a later one; and here is another). We corresponded, and I offered to publish his email, which is set out below. He didn’t demand that I do so — I offered. I think it’s always good to bring out the other side of the story. So here it is below, followed by some comments:
In your November 6, 2002 posting, you carelessly quoted me incorrectly in my e-mail to Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Kurpiel that in part may have led to your characterization of it as “barely literate.” It certainly was hastily written and overly personal for which I apologized and was quickly accepted by the cadet himself, his parents (see Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 6, 2002) and the Air Force Academy Assembly.
“No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation.” Actually I used the word “without” prior to AAA that was an effort to indicate the indiscriminate nature of high-altitude bombing and the lack of significant military assets on the part of those whom we engage in combat. We wage war on the weak and the helpless in large measure due to cultural and ideological bias that is not conducive to diplomatic means in resolving international disputes. This is my opinion and I have the right to express it.
You make another error in your careless and unsubstantiated fulminations against me. You state “that the identification of people like Kirstein with the Democratic Party…” I would be curious if you could produce one document of my many writings and public utterances where I make such a partisan claim. I believe the major political parties are indistinguishable from each other in most areas of public policy that is why I voted for Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate in the last so-called presidential election in the United States.
With regard to another person’s critique of my antiwar activism when I was a graduate student, I would only say this. Buffoonery comes in many forms. I don’t believe the Vietnam antiwar movement, which may have shortened the war and saved the deaths of many precious Americans, who were not able to escape the draft, was particularly humorous or symptomatic of a lack of determination and seriousness. It was an epochal event that was a defining moment in American history that represented a high tide of student idealism and commitment to peace and conflict resolution. I stand by my role as a university-student leader in that era.
My posting was cut-and-pasted from Neal Boortz’s page, to which it was linked — given the extent to which that email circulated the Internet, I suppose a typo from somewhere would be no surprise. As for the identification of Democrats with Mr. Kirstein, I was referring to the Democratic Party’s general identification with anti-war protesters by others — especially in the wake of things like the Bonior/McDermott trip to Baghdad — not Mr. Kirstein’s self-identification with the Democratic Party. The Democrats will, however, no doubt appreciate this clarification. Kirstein promises to speak out against the war in a number of fora, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on his activities.
I dispute the characterization of Saddam Hussein as “weak and helpless,”and I think that “indiscriminate high-altitude bombing” is a shibboleth left over from, well, the days when we actually engaged in indiscriminate high-altitude bombing. But I certainly don’t want to engage in excessive filtering-out of antiwar opinions, and I thought readers would find this item instructive.