Letters to the Editor

Gross misunderstanding

In reading the column “Progressives on the Rise” (Sept 12, p. 5), I was shocked by the presumptive ignorance of the author. As president of GW College Democrats and a self-proclaimed progressive, I felt it was necessary to respond. This fall, College Democrats kicked off the year with a Progressive Student Organization fair. The event brought together groups embodying progressive values and ideas – groups looking for a positive new direction for America. The columnist seems to feel that not inviting conservative groups to participate was somehow a misunderstanding of progressivism. Yet, it is Ms. Nedeau who fails to understand progressivism at its most basic level.

By definition, progressivism is synonymous with “moving forward” and “advancing;” the idea of progress and new methods, ideas, etc. for the future. Ms. Nedeau might be surprised to learn that Webster’s New College Dictionary even uses the term “liberal” to describe progressive.

I am not trying to say that liberalism and progressivism are inextricably linked; certainly they each have distinguishing characteristics. Yet, there is a clear contrast between progressivism and conservatism. The term conservative, is, by its very definition, “the disposition in politics to preserve the status quo” and a movement “tending to oppose change.”

This was not a battle between liberal and conservative ideologies as Ms. Nedeau would like to believe. I would hardly call the Progressive Student Organization fair liberal, as the majority of groups involved are bipartisan in nature. This was about progressive values, not partisanship.

Progressivism is not directly linked to any political party or outside ideology, rather a set of ideals embodying the movement. Ms. Nedeau should take a long, hard look at the values embodied by the progressive movement versus the conservative movement before passing judgment.

Progressivism is about moving America forward and ensuring the best for all Americans – today and in the future – and a government committed to providing key services without legislating people’s private lives. Key progressive issues include a strong public education system, environmental protection, a robust economy and job market, separation of church and state, and the right to privacy, among others. If you believe these things, then you are a progressive, not a conservative.

There’s no denying that there are progressive Republicans and conservative Democrats, but I have yet to encounter a “progressive conservative.”

Furthermore, Ms. Nedeau points out that our nation is in debt, “education fails at every turn,” and the cost of college is ever-rising. Yet, she refuses to acknowledge that it is conservative ideology that has brought us to this juncture and progressivism’s promise of the future that can move us to a brighter day.

-Stacey Garfinkle, senior

No politcal football

In response to the Sept. 12 editorial entitled “Are you a patriot?” (p. 4) I argue that the implied “chickenhawk” argument of the piece perpetually resurfaces in any debate with an anti-war liberal. The basic premise of it is that anyone that advocates a war without serving is a hypocrite. Naturally, this is never applied except towards conservatives.

The ultimate point is that one must get their hands dirty aiding a cause before they can plausibly and credibly demand public support for it. The military is first and foremost controlled by civilians, but if the ultimate point were actually applied, meaning that only veterans can talk about foreign policy, I can’t imagine how that would be a positive development for liberalism. The military overwhelmingly supported Bush in 2004, despite the billions of times John Kerry mentioned his three months in Vietnam. If anything, they’d be more hawkish and militaristic than any mainstream conservatives.

The bottom line is that the military isn’t a political or moral football. While some moan about understanding and shared burdens, enemies of this country are trying to destroy us. Judging by their public statements, the Pentagon is ardently opposed to any imposition of the draft and considers it to be detrimental to military preparedness.

Of course, the draft was no tool of egalitarianism the first time around. Fortunate sons could easily use their connections to avoid serving on the front lines in Vietnam, as did both Gore and Bush II. Any practical draft would require exemptions (school, reasonable objection). These loopholes are easily exploited by the cynical and influential.

Even if a completely mandatory system for domestic national service were created, it remains to be seen what that would accomplish or what on earth it has to do with the Iraq War. The aforementioned article is rooted in emotion, not reason. It demands that people sacrifice for no apparent gain.

It’s been my experience that people don’t join the military because they feel guilty. They join because they want to help defend the freedoms that “chickenhawk hypocrites” such as myself too often take for granted and to help extend those freedoms to others. One understands nothing about the military until one understands that.

-Greg Fick, sophomore

America stands strong

Will Dempster’s column on “Armchair Patriots” (“Are you a patriot?,” Sept. 12 p. 4), left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps my memory of the last four years since September 11, 2001 is different than Mr. Dempster’s.

Like other students at GW who were close to the tragedies of 9/11, I knew many people who perished. I was in my last year at the Bronx High School of Science when the attacks occurred. I recall seeing billows of smoke pouring out of lower Manhattan as I drove over the Whitestone Bridge back into Queens on that fateful day. I also saw a city struggle to rebuild and recover in the years that followed.

Thus, for Mr. Dempster to suggest that “Sept. 11 did not force Americans to sacrifice luxuries for the betterment of their country” seems to me to be a grossly misinformed statement. New York City has had a long road of recovery and sacrifice over the past four years. The economy of New York was floundered, and for a long while it seemed that a sense of terror would never leave the city. The entire country was left to pick up the pieces in the wake of the terror attacks.

Yet, as Americans we are still standing strong.

It is therefore so crucially important to stand in remembrance of September 11 apart from the partisan rhetoric of the moment. For this reason I attended a candlelight memorial service held in Kogan Plaza on Sunday night. Although the speakers were impressive, turnout for the event was not. I certainly did not see Mr. Dempster there; perhaps he was sitting in an armchair, writing his column.

Joseph Karlya, senior

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