This letter is in response to Rowland Brucken’s commentary titled “Rice doesn’t belong at Norwich.”
I’d suggest that by the standards offered by professor Brucken, President Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t be permitted to speak at Norwich for suspending the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War, President Franklin Roosevelt similarly for internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, and President Harry Truman would be excluded for ordering atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Leaders in times of great crisis have to make difficult decisions in order to protect their nation. As a historian I have no doubt that professor Brucken is acutely aware of the heavy burdens of leadership. While I certainly respect his opinion and the courage of his convictions, I think for a scholar of his prominence to fixate on one issue to the exclusion of Condoleezza Rice’s entire body of work and impressive career is sadly myopic. Rice did not authorize the torture herself; we can argue over the nuance of her defense of it as an administration official, but to exclude her on that basis is absurd.
Condoleezza Rice is a talented scholar and leader who endured the racism and oppressiveness of the Jim Crow south to become an accomplished scholar, national security adviser and secretary of state. This is precisely the type of leader who should come address the open-minded Norwich University community. I hope professor Brucken gets an opportunity to question her and they have an erudite, respectful, open exchange of ideas. After all, isn’t this exactly what an academic community is supposed to do?
Finally, as a Norwich graduate myself (1986) and retired Army officer, I am delighted that Norwich President Richard Schneider didn’t cave into a small, vocal and misguided minority. I look forward to hearing Condoleezza Rice speak June 19.
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