Editorial: Remember basic rights, humanity

There are several points of view on Villanova’s campus regarding the current United States campaign against Iraq, as evidenced by the candlelight vigils, guest speakers, chalk scrawlings and classroom debates on the subject.

The Catholic roots of the University demand a resolution drawn out of peace, not war, since the Vatican has officially condemned the war. While The Villanovan supports the idea of peaceful protest against the war and hopes that students continue to express their beliefs in a socially acceptable manner, we hope that students do not forget to support the soldiers who have gone overseas to fight this and every other war for our country.

Several Villanovans are among the thousands who have been deployed to the Gulf area to represent America’s interests in the war. And while students, faculty and staff might condemn the actions they are asked to perform, it is important to remember that they are Americans like the rest of our troops and, more importantly, faces whom we have passed in the hallways, at the Oreo and at parties. As those who are against the war protest, we ask you to remember not only the humanity of the victims of conflict but also that of our men and women who have sworn their service to our nation.

Conversely, members of the community who support military action in the Gulf should not discourage protesters from voicing their beliefs about U.S. policy. The very freedom soldiers fought and died for in war gives people who disagree with the actions of our government the right to speak their mind. Patriotism can be a dangerous tool, as Caesar warned nearly 2,000 years ago, especially when one’s devotion becomes so unquestioning as to limit our ability to recognize our own freedom.

Being patriotic is not about blindly supporting the war simply because we’re engaged in one — it’s about exercising the right to evaluate the reasons why we’re fighting and then choosing whether to support or decry these actions. Encouraging mindless devotion and repressing the right to protest are not the calling cards of a free democratic society, but rather a dictatorship.

Whatever each citizen feels about the actions of the government, we ask that all consider both human life and constitutional rights before taking to the streets and expressing their views to the public. While protestors certainly have logical counterpoints to the arguments raised by those supporting war, the importance of the lives of our soldiers as human beings cannot be emphasized enough. Conversely, what good are their lives to war supporters if the freedoms they are willing to die for are simply erased?