Professor Slotkin: Americans Tuning Out

Richard Slotkin, our American Studies professor currently teaching Westerns (with his own extensive Wiki page, no less!), is a key commentator in this Hartford Courant article about how the American public is tuning out the war in Iraq because of domestic distractions:

“If you get some other crisis to deal with, you can leave behind the morally tricky question of the war,” says cultural critic and historian Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University…

“People’s sympathy is for their own, and for themselves, first,” he says. “If you ask people what they feel about those who are serving, they would say they are concerned. But it’s just not the same.”

…To pull funding for the war and bring the troops home with no resolution or good outcome in Iraq would be an admission that the war was illegitimate, he says, and that the sacrifices and the lives that were lost were in vain.

But there is historical precedence for that, he says. At the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, the Ford administration went to Congress to authorize funding for the use of bombers to counter the final assault of the Viet Cong.

“And Congress refused,” Slotkin says. “There was a general belief that it just was not worth spending any more lives or money on that war.

“But we’re not there yet. We’re just not there.”