History, Complicity, and Westmont College’s Bloody Hands
Westmont gnostikoi have furiously disavowed this exposé, arguing that even if it describes “a few bad apples” that were part of the institution in the past, it fails to represent the institution as it is today. Perhaps that is true, but as is indicated by this blog post, the institution’s ties to The Fellowship are as strong as ever. But even granting the claim that the figures mentioned are all in Westmont’s past, a simple turnover in personnel does nothing to address a troubling legacy of patriarchy, racial exclusion, and religious fundamentalism. Rather than adopt evangelicalism’s patented defensive crouch, the institution will do well to come to terms with the structural rot symptomized by its worship of the powerful. Those who claim that this is no longer true today ought to look to the parade of warmongers and torture advocates that the institution has regularly feted at its annual President’s Breakfast Events.
1. Thomas Friedman, celebrated at Westmont College at the President’s Breakfast in 2007:
- “I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie. We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big stick right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it….What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, ‘Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?’ You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This. That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could’ve hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.” (Thomas Friedman, “Charlie Rose,” 30 May 2003)
2. Condoleeza Rice, consigliere of the Bush administration’s torture regime, celebrated by Westmont College at the President’s Breakfast, 2011:
- “The abuse of detainees in US custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” (United States Senate Intelligence Report, 2009)
3. Henry Kissinger, orchestrator of the killing fields of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, celebrated by Westmont College at a presidential luncheon:
- “ Kissinger immediately relayed the order: ‘A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.’” (transcript of Kissinger tapes).