In “What Consequences?” (Cultural Revolutions, October), R. Cort Kirkwood stated (with regard to the WikiLeaks case) that Army Pfc. Bradley “Manning is a traitor. He deserves the firing squad.” Just the same as a German soldier would have been executed as a traitor for revealing documents about the Nazi concentration camps.
Mr. Kirkwood, I am just as loyal an American as you are. I served my country for eight years on active duty in the 50’s. As an American and a Catholic I expect our soldiers to adhere to certain standards of conduct, and if they are laughing and joking about shooting innocent civilians for sport, I want to know about it. If Mr. Kirkwood considers this anti-American, then he fails to appreciate the consequences of our government hiding its misdeeds behind a veil of secrecy. I understand that under the stress of combat things will be done that shouldn’t be done, and I would certainly allow much leeway in judging conduct. But the consequences of simply saying “stuff happens” can be seen in the behavior of the Nazi and Japanese militaries in World War II.
—Robert A. Charron
Mr. Kirkwood Replies: