First and foremost, there is the aforementioned allegation of the person in question being a war criminal, responsible for one of the greatest travesties of justice in recent history: leading a charge against a nation, namely Iraq, by inciting the emotions and sentiments of the American people opposing an entire population of a country, their race, their religion, on the basis of lies and deception.
It is a known fact today that the Iraq War was unjust and against the American principles of freedom and liberty, regardless of what the Bush Administration would have us believe. The rationale for the war that was provided to the world was the elimination of WMD’s assumed to be, illegally, in the possession of the Iraqi Government and the independence of the Iraqi people. A decade after the war, we now know that no such weapons were found, that in the January of 2005 the United States effectively terminated the search effort for unconventional weaponry in Iraq, and the Iraq Intelligence Commission concluded that the judgments of the U.S. intelligence community about the continued existence of weapons of mass destruction and an associated military program were wrong. And if the aftermath of the Iraq War has taught us anything, it is that the Iraqi people have not been liberated, they are not free, their lives have been wrongly disrupted and, tragic to state, destroyed.
The country of Iraq is now in shambles. Women and girls forced into prostitution to feed their families; the men of the house, dead; children orphaned and mothers widowed, the Iraq War has been nothing more than outright carnage, slaughter of innocent civilians in the name of America, a country founded on the values of justice, freedom and liberty. There should be absolutely no doubt that Condoleezza Rice and her cohorts in the Bush Administration do not stand for said values. Thus, the future leaders of the United States should not be made to believe that a lady of her standpoint is, by any means, a hero.
In honoring Condoleezza Rice as the commencement speaker of this year’s graduation ceremony, Rutgers does not only condone her actions and decisions which have cost the lives of half a million people, loss of lives that Dr. Rice coined as “collateral damage,” but the institution glorifies them, portrays them as actions that are praiseworthy, that should be looked up to, and it is utterly appalling and morally reprehensible to do so, or stand by and allow it to be done. The future leaders of America are not to view the waste of human life as collateral damage, as a difference of opinion; these loss of lives, not just Iraqi lives but American lives, could have, and should have been avoided.
The aftermath of the Iraq War is a laundry list of crimes against humanity with war veterans living through the effects of terminal depression, anxiety and PTSD, along with the Iraqi people left with not even the most basic of resources required to sustain life. Resources such as clean water, electricity, shelter and food have been rendered absent. Diseases run rampant and medical aid is non-existent. Women raped, men murdered and crippled mentally and physically to the point that the lines between life and death have been blurred and erased. This is only the tip of the iceberg when we are talking about the tally of brutalities left at the wake of Condoleezza Rice who signaled the unjustified butchery of so many lives. Should the University of Rutgers really be allowed to honor such a person?
What exactly are we honoring here? Are we honoring the meaningless deaths of half a million people? Are we honoring the decision to water-board Abu Zubaydah? Are we honoring the rape of Iraqi women, the murder of Iraqi children, the pillage of a nation based on false suppositions? And, let us think of the war veterans and the soldiers who died in battle. Why were they sent to the gallows for no reason? What was the end goal and has it been met? Survey says, no.
The resultant effects of the Iraq War is not only the literal deaths of the people involved but the metaphorical deaths of two nations, not just Iraq but the United States as well, for with the breach of the values that this proud country was founded upon is the death of this nation. The United States is no longer seen as the beacon of justice and hope. Rather, it is now a country deeply entrenched in Islamophobia, responsible for the unjust demonization of Arabs, South Asians and Muslims. Dr. Rice has been, at times, a complying bystander, and in others, an active participant in this tragedy. And one of the greatest tragedies if Condoleezza Rice is allowed to speak at the commencement ceremony of the Rutgers 2014 graduations is that there will be students of Iraqi heritage graduating and they will have to bear the fact that the murderer of their fellow countryfolk will be speaking at their graduation. How would the children of Holocaust survivors feel if a Nazi general were asked to speak at their graduation?
As a student of Rutgers and a proud Bangladeshi-American Muslim, I state that it is not too late for us to fall back on our values of justice and do the right thing. I urge each and everyone of you to stand up against the decision to invite Condoleezza Rice to our great university. Please say no to this injustice.
— Fahim Ferdous Promi