Difficult times demand clarity from those who have the ability to express opinions in the media. Often times, media will seek an “expert” or an “informed” opinion to add texture to a particular story of national importance. Not surprising in the least, the lead story in The Columbus Dispatch on Sunday October 14, 2001 was “Testing America’s Resolve.” Within the text, were quotes from professor of military history at The Ohio State University, Allan R. Millett. According to the professor, “The terrorists are ahead of us by 6,000 dead to begin with, and that adds up to a lot of angry Americans.”

Surely, anyone attuned to the regional politics of the area, would have recognized that we have been actively involved militarily (including killing innocent civilians) for quite some number of years (even directly in Afghanistan). The United States has been systematically killing civilians in the region by the application of sanctions in addition to more than occasional direct military hostilities. To suggest that we are somehow keeping score by totaling human lives is another issue altogether (let alone to state the score at 6,000 to zero). The quantitative representation is clearly inaccurate.

Professor Millet however, crossed into the realm of using horrible racism to intensify his initial, arguable point with his follow up statement; “We want to see some scalps on the post.” This inexcusable quote (laced with vile racist overtones) unfortunately targets our country’s Native Americans and can not, and should not be tolerated. The complete lack of respect or regard for Native Americans reminds us all of our most horrendous military past (smallpox infested blankets given to Native Peoples) and sadly illuminates the present when racial slurs like this are used in any current context. The problem is intensified by the professor’s violation of the most basic of human sensitivities, the value of life….all life. In addition, this brand of racism violates and significantly denigrates the university’s recent attempt to launch its highly self-touted diversity program.

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