Who would have thought the day would come when university teachers would band together to oppose a scholarship program that permits young people to pursue a higher education?
Sixteen University of Regina academics have not only done that, but have gone one better in an open letter to university administrators, branding the scholarships a "dangerous cultural turn."
It is hard to fathom a less dangerous idea than the offer of modest educational compensation to children who have lost a parent in the service of their country. Yet the program the academics have targeted, called Project Hero, is nothing more sinister than that, paying tuition and providing $1,000 each year to the children of fallen servicemen and women.
The academics would probably prefer to focus on deconstructing the discourse of heroism as imperialist and fellow-centric, and thereby reflective of the dominant paradigm of violence perpetrated against women and ethnic minorities, to use jargon familiar to them.
But their open letter is revealing. The academics complain that by accepting the scholarships the university is "implicated in the disturbing construction of the war in Afghanistan by Western military and state elites as the 'good war' of our epoch. We insist that our university not be connected with the increasing militarization of Canadian society and politics."
In other words, it is the academics themselves who are implicated in a disturbing construction by their use of an uncontroversial scholarship program as a cover to make a political point against Canada's mission in Afghanistan as, as they evidently see it, a "bad war."
The academics further complain that the university's acceptance of the scholarships "erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices." It accomplishes no such thing. Just as they are free to issue contemptible open letters, so too are they able to carry on as before in their "critical discussion of military policy and practices."
The university is not compromised. It's business as usual on the U of R campus. All that has changed is that there is now a greater probability that one day the child of a soldier killed in action, a fallen hero, will stand up in class and challenge the pervasive and doctrinaire leftist analysis of the mission in Afghanistan.
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