The disclaimer “we support our troops” has practically become obligatory for proclamations of opposition to U.S. wars. But a Boston law professor felt compelled to declare to students and colleagues that he supports neither the wars nor the troops fighting them.
Michael Avery, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School, responded to an online solicitation for support for care packages for overseas servicemen by labeling them killers undeserving of sympathy.
“I think it is shameful that it is perceived as legitimate to solicit in an academic institution for support for men and women who have gone overseas to kill other human beings,” Avery professed in an email sent on the eve of the Marine Corps’ birthday and two days before Veterans Day. “I understand that there is a residual sympathy for service members, perhaps engendered by support for troops in World War II, or perhaps from when there was a draft and people with few resources to resist were involuntarily sent to battle. That sympathy is not particularly rational in today’s world, however.”
In the five-paragraph mass email, Avery also counseled students, faculty, and administrators “to be more mindful of what message we are sending as a school” and questioned the presence of an enormous American flag in a campus atrium. “Why do we continue to have this oversized flag in our lobby?”
“Perhaps some of my colleagues will consider this to be an inappropriate political statement,” the law professor continued. “But of course the solicitation email was a political statement, although cast as support for student activities. The politics of that solicitation are that war is legitimate, perhaps inevitable, and that patriotic Americans should get behind our troops.”
Avery, a recipient of the since-discontinued bachelor of laws degree at Yale University whose education included a late-’60s stint at the University of Moscow, has been active in left-wing causes for more than four decades. He is a past president of the National Lawyers Guild, and his resume boasts of work at the ACLU Foundation and Yale University’s Political Justice Workshop.
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