Given events of the past few years, these are two phrases that mix like oil and water. Think textbook cognitive dissonance. Or a feeble attempt at rehabilitation in the eyes of the public, an audacious means of gaining the moral high ground from the morass of historical tone deafness and gross insensitivity.
My first reaction upon reading about this 10 January 2019 lecture and, more importantly, the series of which it is a part, was “that’s rich coming from an institution that engineered not one but two consecutive PR disasters related to the US War in Viet Nam.”
The first involved Bob Kerrey, who was offered and accepted the position of chairman of the board of trustees. That misguided appointment was the source of considerable controversy and ultimately became a thorn in the side of a budding bilateral relationship – at the highest levels.
The second involved another war veteran and “one of the most influential figures in the US-Viet Nam relationship you’ve never heard of,” Thomas Vallely. He made a series of cruel and insensitive statements about civilian deaths during the war in an interview that was published in early 2018 in Politico.
In case you’re just tuning in, dear reader, or are not entirely up-to-date, have a look at the articles and posts below.
Bob Kerrey and Fulbright University – What were they thinking? by Mark Ashwill (MAA) (8.7.16)
How a U.S.-Backed University in Vietnam Unleashed Old Demons by Isabelle Taft (4.2.18)
The Importance of Speaking Up About “Things That Matter” by MAA (26.12.18)
Make amends and come clean, FUV; then you’re entitled to launch a Moral Leadership Speaker Series in good conscience.
Shalom (שלום), MAA, The Unquiet US American