Why protesting Petraeus is so important

I mentioned here recently the protest at Georgetown University against visiting speaker General David Petraeus. Soon after I received the following email from a participant of the action:

I am writing to thank you for mentioning last week’s protest of General Petraeus on Georgetown’s campus in your blog. As one of the students involved, it has been alarming to see the backlash against our actions both on campus and online. Forming the opinions of our detractors are the likes of this extremist blogger as well as the editorial board of the main student paper and the student government [“the Georgetown University Senate: 1) Condemns the disrespectful and improper actions of the Georgetown University students who disrupted the lecture of General David H. Petraeus on January 21, 2010. 2) Expresses our belief that this behavior abridged the speaker’s right to free speech and the audience’s right to see and hear the speaker, in conflict with university policy and our proud tradition of freedom of expression. 3) Expresses our gratitude and respect for General Petraeus, the men and women in uniform, and all those who keep us safe and protect our freedoms.].

If you are familiar at all with Georgetown, where such war criminals as Georget Tenet and Doug Feith have very recently held positions on the faculty, this will not surprise you. So in our ongoing effort to bring some sanity to a student body and faculty who have shown a frighteningly uncritical acceptance of American militarism, the base of our support must necessarily be located outside of the campus community.

Petraeus is definitely being groomed for politics with this grand lecture tour – a sitting general, incessantly professing his love of
his troops, taking practically a year off to polish his public image: a microcosm of modern virtual war. And his oft-cited qualifications are superficially very impressive – he wrote a dissertation at Princeton about the lessons of Vietnam: that’s presidential shit! Nonetheless he has been instrumental in crafting and executing the so-called surge strategy, which is little more than a blueprint for and a making-necessary-of an indefinitely prolonged occupation.

So from one person who finds such a scenario unacceptable to another, I express my gratitude. If you wish I can keep you posted on the ongoing struggle here at Georgetown – the more outlets there are for voices of dissent, the better. You never know what sorts of tactics will be employed to silence opposition.