Campos & CU vs. McCain & TR

Clearly, the price of war is horrendous. The Civil War cost 600,000 lives. Worth the cost to emancipate a few slaves? Editor: So says Fran Miller in reply to "McCain's Dangerous Belief," a Paul Campos column in the Rocky on 4/24. Dave Crater tags on his impressions of Campos as a law school professor. Here are both pieces.

War? Why Bother?

(By Fran Miller) Paul Campos has sparked an important conversation that many will want to pursue. If we dispense with the glorification of past battles won and lost and focus on the merits of war it will inform our actions in the future.

Is the drafting of millions of men and resocializing them to get them to a point psychologically where they can kill or be killed worth doing? What, to liberate people like the French and British who will be ungrateful anyway.

And what about the Jews in those camps? Wasn't that a local problem on its way to being solved locally? Deposing dictators? Retaliating for the World Trade Center bombing? Aren't more people killed on our streets in a couple of months than were killed in New York?

Wouldn't the Russians have eventually won WWII? Couldn't we have sacrificed a few islands in the Pacific, trusting that the Chinese would have eventually taken care of the Japanese?

Clearly, the price of war is horrendous and its scars leave blemishes on the skin and mind of soldiers and civilian collaterals for a lifetime. I really didn't appreciate getting drafted in 1971 and being forced to put on combat boots.

My father and father in law both served in WWII and were never the same afterwards. The Civil War cost 600,000 lives and 2 to 3 million wounded. Worth the cost to emancipate a few slaves?

Discussing the merits of war as against the consequences of not fighting is a valid debate in a free society. But where I draw the line is Paul Campos's outrageous insinuation that the men who step forward when their nation demands are war-mongering sociopaths.

He is not fit to eat the droppings that fall off Teddy Roosevelt's mess kit. What Mr. Campos does really well, though, is act as the symbolic spokesman for the Colorado Bar, the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain News. He's your man. I'll keep TR as mine.

Who says 2 + 2 = 4?

(By Dave Crater) Fran, I had Campos for a class on legislation last semester at CU law school. It was not really a class in legislation, but one in literary, linguistic, and legal deconstruction.

We spent one entire class period discussing whether the proposition 2 + 2 = 4 actually describes the universe we live in or is just an arbitrary social and linguistic construct produced by humans.

I raised my hand and said, "With all due respect, the proposition 2 + 2 = 4 accurately describes the universe for all people, at all times, in all places." There was an awkward silence of a few seconds, then Campos said, "And how do you know this?"

He is as cynical and liberal as they come - a real moral and political disaster. As Fran hints, there are many reasons to not be excited about McCain, but his support for the Iraq war is not one of them.

Editor: Here are some key passages of the Campos column...

War is a form of mass psychosis, during which horrifying acts are transformed into heroic deeds, through the magical moral disinfectant of state sanction. .... When historians look back on the Iraq catastrophe, I suspect they'll discover a significant factor in this latest outbreak of mass psychosis was a kind of warrior envy, as reflected in recent popular culture. Books like The Greatest Generation, movies like Saving Private Ryan and television series like Band of Brothers are, despite some gestures toward moral ambiguity, essentially glorifications of war. .... Indeed, some of the support for the Iraq war came from the belief that war builds character by subjecting the pampered citizens of the modern state to a beneficial dose of suffering in the service of a great cause. The most famous American exponent of this view was Teddy Roosevelt, who believed in "muscular Christianity" and manly self-sacrifice, and who advocated militaristic imperialism as a kind of bloody outdoor adventure program, for a nation he feared was becoming soft and decadent. For anyone who considers this view both absurd and dangerous, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's evident affection for it is a cause for great concern.... There can be no better reason to vote against him.