Is Edsforth Still Employed?

The Daily Dartmouth reports today that the illustrious Ronald Edsforth, who was at some point in the not-to-distant past teaching a class titled “War and Peace” (and maybe in charge of the War/Peace program, which I believe was recently eliminated), organized a protest at a debate on torture and extra-judicial killings. “Torture and extra-judicial killing are not legitimate policy options,” a flier he was distributing read. “They should be condemned by all as barbaric, illegal and immoral.”

This is obviously a much more complex issue than Edsforth would have anyone believe. I wonder what his thoughts are on the ticking-bomb scenario, whereby the U.S. has a in custody a terrorist who knows the details of an imminent attack that will kill thousands of American civilians? He won’t talk, so what does the U.S. do? Is torture in that situation a viable option? The answer may not be clear, but it is certainly open for debate–and, indeed, it is a debate that should be encouraged. Can anyone in good conscience deny that?

Regarding extra-judicial killings: How does Edsforth feel about the targeted killing of high-ranking al-Qaeda officers (or even low-level grunts)? If a U.S. sniper has al-Zarqawi in his cross-hair, and he’ll escape unless the soldier pulls the trigger, what should the soldier do? Again, some people may not think we should kill terrorists in that fashion, but to discourage people from attending a debate aiming to illuminate the complexities and nuances of these questions is galling.

I thought Edsforth was canned my senior year, but I recall that there was some student grumbling about it (and I think Edsforth himself shamelessly tried to organize a petition, which I guess if he’s still around was successful). Anyway, if there were any question about whether he should remain at Dartmouth, this protest should settle it. To say that these issues are simply beyond debate, are “not legitimate policy options,” shows a casual disregard for the premise of free inquiry and open debate, a core value all professors should respect.

(Also, that Edsforth was “delighted” by the protest turnout–a whopping ten people–is just another sign that he’s disconnected from reality.)