You want smackdown? Campos v. Reynolds

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Corlyss_D
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You want smackdown? Campos v. Reynolds

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:00 pm

Campos' Salvo
URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/o ... 32,00.html
The right's Ward Churchill

February 20, 2007

Murder is the premeditated unlawful killing of a human being. Glenn Reynolds, the well-known University of Tennessee law professor who authors one of the Internet's most popular blogs, recently advocated the murder of Iranian scientists and clerics.

"We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and Iranian atomic scientists . . . Basically, stepping on the Iranians' toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq," Reynolds wrote.

Of course Iran is not at war with America, but just as Reynolds spent years repeating Bush administration propaganda about Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, he's now dutifully repeating the administration's claims about supposed Iranian government involvement in Iraq's civil war.

Moreover, even if Iran were at war with the United States, the intentional killing of civilian noncombatants is a war crime, as that term is defined by international treaties America has signed. Furthermore, government-sponsored assassinations of the sort Reynolds is advocating are expressly and unambiguously prohibited by the laws of the United States.

How does a law professor, of all people, justify advocating murder? "I think it's perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries - like Iran - that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses," Reynolds says.

Now this kind of statement involves certain time-tested rhetorical techniques. First, make a provocative claim that happens to be false. In fact, no Iranian government official has ever said Iran wants to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. Then use this claim to defend actions, such as murdering civilians, which would remain immoral and illegal even if the claim happened to be true. Finally, condemn those who object to using lies to justify murder as "idiots," who don't understand the need to take strong and ruthless action when defending the fatherland from its enemies.

The use of propaganda to help bring about the murder of people you would like to kill has been especially favored by fascists. Fascism is marked by, among other things, extreme nationalism, contempt for legal restraints on state power, and the worship of violence.

And while it would perhaps be an exaggeration to call people like Reynolds and his fellow law professor Hugh Hewitt (who defended Reynolds' comments) fascists, it isn't an exaggeration to point out that these gentlemen sound very much like fascists when they encourage the American government to murder people.

All this raises several interesting questions. For instance, does academic freedom insulate a law professor from any institutional consequences when he advocates murder? Reynolds and Hewitt, after all, certainly didn't object when University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill's celebration of the murder of American civilians raised serious questions about why the university had chosen to employ and tenure such a person, and led to an investigation of Churchill's academic record.

Indeed, Hewitt and Reynolds both went out of their way to publicize the Churchill affair, as an example of left-wing extremism in our universities.

Why does right-wing extremism in our universities, as represented by such things as law professors calling on the Bush administration to commit murder, get so much less attention?

Certainly, it's worth asking Reynolds' administrative superiors at the University of Tennessee what limits, if any, the terms and conditions of Reynolds' employment put on his behavior. After all, if the American government were to follow Reynolds' advice, his employer would have an accessory to murder on its payroll.

That seems like an especially peculiar item to find on a law professor's résumé.

Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. He can be reached at paul.campos@colorado.edu.

************************************************************************
Reynolds Responds
Arguing from ignorance
Wednesday, February 21 at 9:09 AM

By Glenn H. Reynolds

Paul Campos has beclowned himself. He did it in the usual way, by arguing loudly about things he does not understand.

Campos chose to devote an entire column (“The right’s Ward Churchill,” Feb. 20) to a blog entry of mine from last week, in which I wondered why the Bush administration wasn’t acting covertly to kill radical mullahs and atomic scientists, rather than preparing a major attack on Iran. (Silly me, I thought this was advocating a less warlike approach). According to Campos, this suggestion was both morally wrong — suggesting that we kill people this way made me a “fascist” and an “extremist” — and illegal.

Indeed, not only was I suggesting something illegal, according to Campos, but the mere act of suggesting it made me some sort of “accessory to murder.” Campos, however, has both his law and history wrong.

History first: There’s nothing beyond the pale about suggesting assassination and covert action as an alternative to warfare. In 1998, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked the government to look into assassination as a means of dealing with terrorists; Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., suggested assassinating Saddam Hussein the same year. On Jan. 3, 2001, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., introduced legislation to facilitate the assassination of terrorists. And in 1997, George Stephanopoulos wrote: “A misreading of the law or misplaced moral squeamishness should not stop the president from talking about assassination. He should order up the options and see if it’s possible. If we can kill Saddam, we should.” If this be fascism, make the most of it.

Nor would such action be illegal. Assassination is forbidden by executive order. Nothing prevents the president from rescinding that order, or amending it. And as a 1989 memorandum by the Judge Advocate General of the Army notes, killing enemy leaders or weapons scientists isn’t even assassination: “Civilians who work within a military objective are at risk from attack during the times in which they are present within that objective, whether their injury or death is incidental to the attack of that military objective or results from their direct attack. ... Thus, more than 90 percent of the World War II Project Manhattan personnel were civilians, and their participation in the U.S. atomic weapons program was of such importance as to have made them liable to legitimate attack.

“Similarly, the September 1944 Allied bombing raids on the German rocket sites at Peenemunde regarded the death of scientists involved in research and development of that facility to have been as important as destruction of the missiles themselves. Attack of these individuals would not constitute assassination.”

International law is unlikely to be a problem either. The bombing attack on Moammar Qaddafi was legally justified, according to the State Department’s legal adviser, as an act of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter because of Qaddafi’s terrorist activities. The Iranian mullahs are worse, and are trying to get nuclear weapons besides.

Other law professors have, of course, made similar arguments, at far greater length than my blog post. Campos, himself a law professor, could have learned these things through a simple Google search, but apparently did not.

Instead, he authored an uninformed column, and then added a thuggish suggestion that my university should discipline me for daring to utter thoughts that, in his uninformed state, he found uncongenial. After he has educated himself sufficiently to have an informed opinion on the subject, Campos might still disagree. But if he does, I promise not to try to get him fired for not sharing my opinions. Perhaps one day, he’ll learn to return the favor.

Glenn H. Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He moderates the popular Web log Instapundit.
com.
Corlyss
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