Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Vet jeering at Columbia

On the face of it, this looks bad: A vet who was shot 11 times in a firefight in Iraq in 2008 and is now a student at Columbia University in the city of New York was jeered while speaking. If it was students who did the jeering, shame on them. But I wonder. The ...

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On the face of it, this looks bad: A vet who was shot 11 times in a firefight in Iraq in 2008 and is now a student at Columbia University in the city of New York was jeered while speaking. If it was students who did the jeering, shame on them.

But I wonder. The weirdest appearance I ever did on book tour was the very first talk I gave when Fiasco was published in the summer of 2006. I was speaking at the Barnes & Noble on Broadway on the Upper West Side, a short walk south of the Columbia campus. I gave my talk, and the audience sat stone-faced. Afterwards, all the questions were from the fringe: "Why didn't I tell the truth about 9/11, which was an inside job?" And that was the sanest one. I thought oh no, if the entire tour is like this, I am in for a rough six weeks. As it happened, the subsequent appearances were great, with very receptive, engaged audiences. 

As for Columbia, where my father taught and three of my siblings were students:

On the face of it, this looks bad: A vet who was shot 11 times in a firefight in Iraq in 2008 and is now a student at Columbia University in the city of New York was jeered while speaking. If it was students who did the jeering, shame on them.

But I wonder. The weirdest appearance I ever did on book tour was the very first talk I gave when Fiasco was published in the summer of 2006. I was speaking at the Barnes & Noble on Broadway on the Upper West Side, a short walk south of the Columbia campus. I gave my talk, and the audience sat stone-faced. Afterwards, all the questions were from the fringe: “Why didn’t I tell the truth about 9/11, which was an inside job?” And that was the sanest one. I thought oh no, if the entire tour is like this, I am in for a rough six weeks. As it happened, the subsequent appearances were great, with very receptive, engaged audiences. 

As for Columbia, where my father taught and three of my siblings were students:

1. They should have ROTC, or lose federal monies.

2. The girl in the balcony with the poster should be asked if she wants to deny young people who otherwise could not afford Columbia the opportunity to attend on a ROTC scholarship.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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