Letter: Missing the point

By The Daily Illini

Chris Kozak’s ignorant attack on the Progressive Resource/Action Cooperative on Oct. 15 raises some serious questions about how effective his education has been at the University. As usual with individuals who hold his ideological perspective, he is not interested in facts or even research. The PRC with other campus and community groups has worked since 1989 to help move this University into the modern world by getting rid of a racist mascot that denigrates American Indians and adds to the inhospitable atmosphere toward people of color in general.

So who are the “big babies”? Is it those who wish to bring maturity and enlightenment to the campus by connecting a tradition of racial oppression to a modern representation of that oppression in racist symbols and who believe that this racism makes it easier to go to war? Or is it the opinions columnist who whines and cries, because he cannot understand how people of conscience and understanding might challenge his unreasoning attachment to an outdated, minstrel-show clown? I’ll stand with the PRC and other mature folks on this issue, thank you.

Chris also laid a personal attack on me as an “elitist” professor. Well, that could mean that he believes that all professors are “elitist,” including those who have been teaching him for the past three years. I’m sure they would all appreciate the epithet. Also, Kozak attacks me for making a “sweeping generalization” that he then goes on to sweepingly generalize about. Of course, it should not be surprising to learn he was not listening to what I actually said. If he had, he would have realized that I was speaking, not as a professor, but as a Vietnam veteran who was calling on the crowd to understand that people join the military with ideals, not with a desire to become instruments of an imperial policy. When they go to war, they always hope that it is for the right reasons, but they do not get to choose. The political leaders make the decisions and the troops carry them out. Most often in our history – and Kozak would know this if he had ever taken time to study the issue – the troops learn they have been used cynically. Then they come home to abuse by the very political leaders who sent them off to fight, abuse in the form of V.A. hospital closings and cuts in overall medical care, for example; or governmental attacks for daring to speak out against their political leadership and a failed or immoral policy.

That is what I was talking about on Monday, Oct. 11, and that was the message the crowd came away with. Everyone except Chris Kozak, that is.

Joseph T. Miller

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Vietnam veteran

adjunct assistant professor