Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More On "Pappy" Boyington

This story is starting to spread, with the journal of right wing scandal and outrage World Net Daily picking it up, as well as the popular blog Ace of Spades HQ. One of the individuals involved, Karl Smith, posted his defense in the comments section of the original post I made. In all fairness, his original statement on the resolution was open to some interpretation, so I will repost his comments here:

I posted this comment elsewhere on a separate blog, but I feel it fits here too.

You see, this is a really fascinating lesson. It's a lesson on taking comments woefully out of context and self-interested parties on campus seeking personal gain at the expense of the integrity of their peers. The minutes you see are at best a paraphrase of the comments made; you see but the statements and not the justifications behind them.

As an individual cited in those minutes (and on your blog) and who, in the end, voted against this piece of legislation, I wanted to shared with you a few thoughts. First, I have a great deal of Pappy Boyington and I'm very thankful this resolution brought to my attention his experience and sacrifice. Had this been a resolution to express our admiration and honor him, this would have been a far simpler affair and would, in my estimation, have passed overwhelmingly. But this was about more than that. This piece of legislation asked us to support the creation of a memorial on campus; all else being equal I'd love to do that as well. But how do we decide who is deserving of such a commemoration and who is not? The University of Washington has MANY disinguished alumni, including other Medal of Honor recipients such as PFC. William K. Nakamura and John D. "Bud" Hawk, amongst others. We also are home to civil rights leaders such as Gordon Hirabayshi and a major contributor in the eradication of smallpox William Foege, and the Nigerian statesman who worked for peace Alex Ekwueme. How do we decide who is and is not deserving? I don't believe that's the role of the Student Senate, but it is certainly the role of the Student Senate to honor and acknowledge. I hope we see a future resolution to this end, for I am quite grateful for what Pappy Boyington did for our country.

Finally, though it may be unpopular here, I stand by my comments in support of removing the language regarding the Japanese planes shot down. In war, killing is a necessary evil. Because of this I am all the more grateful for those who endure the effects of war. But I do not believe our honor of him should focus upon the evil, regardless of how necessary. Instead it should focus on his heroism, courage, and all that he endured for his country.

In the end, my hope is to put the discussion and the decision in context. Though the vote is yes or no, the reasons for the particular vote vary greatly amongst senators. It is inaccurate to suggest that voting against this resolution is in any way seeking to disparage any veteran; as I mentioned, I hope to see a future resolution honoring him without asking that the Student Senate overstep its role.

Very Tuly Yours,Karl D. Smith

I am not sure how "self-interested parties on campus seeking personal gain at the expense of the integrity of their peers." comes into play. Perhaps there is some conspiracy involved that I am not aware of. I am a UW student, alum, and a veteran, but I am not a member of the student senate, nor am I seeking to put up a statue in my honor, so I am not sure who exactly is seeking personal gain.

As for Mr. Smith's explanation regarding removing the mention of Japanese planes being shot down, I will accept his statement that he meant no insult by it, but I don't really buy his logic. If you put up a memorial to a fighter ace, avoiding mentioning that he shot down enemy planes seems a bit of a stretch. This would be analogous to honoring Babe Ruth, while carefully avoiding that he hit home runs, or honoring Marie Curie without mentioning that she won Nobel prizes. He was a fighter pilot, he shot down planes, that is what his job was. If someone finds the mention of this evil than they are missing the point.

Regardless of Mr. Smith's intent in making his statement, I still fail to see how the words "she didn’t believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce" can be presented in a favorable context, but maybe I am just not imaginative enough.