Suffolk University Loses a Patriot

Suffolk University in Massachusetts recently held a drive to collect “care packages” for soldiers overseas.  This did not please law professor Michael Avery, who blasted out an email to his colleagues, packed with Really Deep Thoughts about the mercenary thrill-killers of the American military. 

The Professor is curious how anyone could still have an ounce of sympathy for those star-spangled butchers, since World War II and the draft were such a long time ago.  We should stop supporting the troops at once, and use that money for “infrastructure” instead!

Courtesy of Boston radio host Michael Graham, here is the complete text of Avery’s disgusting email:

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.  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.  

The United States may well be the most war prone country in the history of civilization.  We have been at war two years out of three since the Cold War ended.  We have 700 overseas military bases.  What other country has any?  In the last ten years we have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary foreign invasions.  Those are dollars that could have been used for people who are losing their homes due to the economic collapse, for education, to repair our infrastructure, or for any of a thousand better purposes than making war.  And of course those hundreds of billions of dollars have gone for death and destruction

Perhaps some of my colleagues will consider this to be an inappropriate political statement.  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.

We need to be more mindful of what message we are sending as a school. Since Sept. 11 we have had perhaps the largest flag in New England hanging in our atrium.  This is not a politically neutral act. Excessive patriotic zeal is a hallmark of national security states.  It permits, indeed encourages, excesses in the name of national security, as we saw during the Bush administration, and which continue during the Obama administration.  

Why do we continue to have this oversized flag in our lobby?  Why are we sending support to the military instead of Americans who are losing their homes, malnourished, unable to get necessary medical care, and suffering from other consequences of poverty?  As a university community, we should debate these questions, not remain on automatic pilot in support of the war agenda. 

(Emphases added by Graham, who did a fine job of highlighting the extra stupid parts.)  Bear in mind this little screed went out right before Veterans Day, which is probably Avery’s least favorite holiday, assuming he can get through Columbus Day without medication.

“What a piece of work is man,” as the Bard had it.  Michael Avery is certainly a piece of work.  An alumnus of the Soviet-era University of Moscow (no, really) he’s racked up some impressive ratings from students, as discovered by Daniel Flynn of FrontPage Magazine:

A perusal of the several dozen pre-controversy entries for Avery on suggests that the lawyer’s political activism doesn’t stop at the lecture hall door. Next to describing him as “arrogant,” “narcissistic,” and “condescending,” students most commonly noted his politicization of the classroom.

One former student observed that Avery “had a huge liberal bias. That was fine with me, but don’t take him if you are at all conservative.” Another noted that Avery “definitely injects his opinions into every class. You feel a little awkward disagreeing with his stance on issues.” Other posters noted that he “hates Pres Bush” and that his “politics are somewhere to the left of Abbie Hoffman.”

The original email soliciting donations for the troops mentioned that Suffolk University had a student deployed in Afghanistan.  It turns out they’ve also got a law professor serving over there, and the local Fox News affiliate reports he’s had enough of Avery’s nauseating tripe.  It’s too bad for the students, because not only does the departing professor have vastly superior patriotism and common sense, he’s also got an absolutely perfect name:

U.S. Army Reserve Major Robert Roughsedge cut ties with Suffolk Law School in response to fellow law professor Michael Avery’s defamatory e-mail regarding troops fighting overseas.

The New Hampshire father submitted his letter of resignation Monday afternoon.

Major Roughsedge was a member of the adjunct faculty at Suffolk Univ. for eight years. He taught a popular course on Terrorism and the Law.

FOX 25 spoke with Major Roughsedge by phone Monday and he said he received a copy of the e-mail in Afghanistan where he is currently stationed. He referred to the e-mail as “hate speech” and does not want to be associated with the school anymore.

“It’s basically like a 5-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, that is not how we teach our students to rationally look at the issues…We want rationale adult discourse and that is not something I would tolerate in my class and it is not something the school should tolerate from one of its professors,” Major Roughsedge said.

Yes, yes, I know: freedom of speech and all that.  Fair enough.  But what parents in their right minds would want their kids educated by a loon like Avery?  Hopefully Major Roughsedge will let the sane parents know where he ends up teaching. 

Meanwhile, if sending care packages to troops sounds like a good idea to you, you can make Comrade Avery cry by getting in touch with a number of fine organizations.  I’ve donated through Soliders’ Angels for many years.  Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments.  Let’s do our best to let Avery know how much extra support our soldiers overseas will receive thanks to his energetic exercise in free speech.  Also, does anyone know if it would be possible to get an even bigger American flag for the Suffolk University atrium?