Marquette and ROTC: an unholy alliance

Daniel C. Maguire -

PROFESSOR DANIEL C. MAGUIREAt Marquette University, there are two contradictory schools of thought on war and both are — confusingly — taught to our students. One is based on the Judeo-Christian, Catholic, Jesuit moral tradition, and it is encapsulated in what is called "the Catholic just war theory." That theory puts the burden of proof on the warrior, not on the conscientious objector.

The theory states several conditions that must be met for a war to be called "justifiable." If a single condition is violated, the war is unjust and is nothing more than collective murder. As a purveyor of this Catholic "just war theory," the Jesuit John Courtney Murray said that there is no time when citizens should be more vocal than when their government is killing people in their name.

The other school of thought taught at Marquette is called the ROTC. ROTC does not accept or include in its independent curriculum the "Catholic just war theory," which defends the right of "selective conscientious objection to particular wars" for soldiers. Neither does its curriculum require course work on the biblical teaching of peace-making.

ROTC students are taught exactly what American law says, i.e., that when you swear into military service, you have surrendered your right to have moral objections to any war to which you are assigned. ROTC students are taught that the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which claimed more than the population of Milwaukee in lost and displaced lives, are beyond the criticisms of "the Catholic just war theory."

Catholic teaching, stand aside! The Army Field Manual says, "If you're to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, (your) values must reinforce not contradict, Army values." Army values trump religiously informed conscience.

Why this strange marriage?

Marquette would not allow a government-financed program on campus to teach the legitimacy of contraception, abortion or same-sex marriage. Why this affair with ROTC, an arrangement unparalleled at other Jesuit universities? The answer in biblical terms is "thirty pieces of silver." ROTC is a money-maker.

But what of Bob Graf?

Bob Graf is a 70-year-old, nonviolent peace-maker. For decades, he has been a dreadful nuisance as he persistently protested against ROTC.

Graf stands in a distinguished train of nuisances. He and his fellow protesters are at one with Isaiah, who was a vexing nuisance, as was Jeremiah. Jesus was a colossal nuisance, and he, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, paid for it with his life. Jesus' mother was a nuisance. In her one speech, she uttered one of the most radical calls for justice in human literature. She was out to free the Earth's poor from the sordid chains of injustice and to rout bloated oppressors from their plush thrones.

So who is guilty around here?

Albrecht Haushofer was found guilty of resistance to the Nazis. While in jail awaiting execution, he wrote a poem called "Schuld" (guilt.) In it, he said he was indeed guilty, but not the way the Nazis thought. He was guilty because he was silent and timid for too long. He did not soon enough and loudly and clearly enough (nicht hart genug und klar) cry out and shout "Unheil!" (This is unholy!) He who was to pay the full price for resistance condemned his own slowness to respond to evil with courage.

Who is guilty at Marquette? First, I am guilty. I have not cried out "hart genug und klar" that ROTC propaganda, which amounts to Operation Conscience Destruction, is blessed at Marquette when it should be condemned and routed. Marquette's administration, which monopolizes all deliberative power at the university, is very guilty, as it embraces ROTC while sending Graf to jail. A compliant faculty is guilty, especially the Theology Department faculty, the supposed keepers of the biblical Gospel of peace.

It is time for Marquette to end its alliance with ROTC indoctrination, to turn back the unholy lucre it brings to our coffers and to become a stirring beacon of that light of peace that Isaiah wanted to extend to the furthest edges of the Earth and Jesus wanted to be taught "to all nations."



Daniel C. Maguire is a professor of moral theology at Marquette University.

Read this article on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentenel

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