The last time we heard from David Petraeus, he was resigning as director of the CIA due to his affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Since then, we haven’t heard much commotion from the scapegoat of US military actions in the Middle East. On September 11 (Funny how these things just happen, isn’t it?), however, a ruckus was raised outside the City University of New York (CUNY). What was the cause of said ruckus, you ask? Petraeus is currently serving as a visiting professor at CUNY, something which the Ad-Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY finds quite upsetting.
Petraeus is currently teaching a once-per-week course at CUNY entitled “Are We On the Threshold of the North American Decade?”, a class which is focused on America’s public policy and how it affects our leadership role in the international economy. Why he is qualified to teach a course concerning American foreign relations and its impact on the economy is anyone’s guess. However, that is not the reasons students and professors are so upset. S. Sandor John, an assistant professor of Latin American History at CUNY, states that “A great many CUNY students’ families come from countries directly targeted by the death squads, military coups, drones, spying and mass bombing organized by the likes of Petraeus … and the U.S. military as a whole.” John is responsible for creating the Ad-Hoc group which heckled Petraeus as he left class Monday.
This protest is not the result of impressionable college students being brainwashed by a popular professor, though. Eric Moreno, a linguistics major at CUNY, believes that “this will be a recurring thing.” Not only will the students continue to protest Petraeus’s teaching position, but Moreno also stated that “There are other students that are willing to go the extra step and wait for him after class and just make his time here in New York a living hell basically.”
It’s a safe assumption to say that Petraeus is not the most popular person in America at the moment. He was the general in charge of the troop surge originally ordered by Bush in 2007 in Iraq, and he was also the main proponent and then executioner of the more recent troop surge in Afghanistan. And just one week ago, Petraeus also voiced support for President Obama’s plan for a limited military strike against Syria, stating that such action is necessary to ensure that Syria ceases their use of chemical weapons and to also show North Korea and Iran that the US will use force if necessary.
Even if one believes Petraeus is the anti-Christ for his past actions, one has to wonder why the student reaction to his presence on campus is so nasty and vehement. Isn’t college supposed to be a bastion of critical thinking and discourse? Shouldn’t these students be taking this opportunity to ask Petraeus to defend his previous actions and to try to understand the minds behind our military in Washington? The reaction of the students at CUNY shows how far away from the ideals of the university our students have gone and reflect poorly upon our future generation of leaders.
What do you think? Are the student protests an appropriate response to Petraeus’s appearance on campus? Answer in the Comments Section below.
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