OPINIONS

From one Stanford 1960s war protestor to another

To: Mr. Willard Mitt Romney

Candidate for the Presidency of the United States

Dear Mr. Romney:

Your and my time as students at Stanford University overlapped between 1964 and 1968. You and I did not know each other at Stanford, but it now appears that our paths certainly crossed: I, too, was a protestor, but I protested against the Vietnam War and for civil rights and international human rights.

When the Stanford Sigma Chi Fraternity recruited me to become a member in 1965, the national governors of that fraternity kicked the Stanford Chapter out of the national membership. I am African-American. The Sigma Chi elders refused to integrate the fraternity. Many other white-only fraternities, private clubs and religious denominations expressed solidarity with the Stanford Sigma Chi chapter and abolished their anti-black, anti-Jewish and anti-woman traditions.

My beliefs, my experiences and my commitments then inform who I am todayas one would have to believe yours do as well. I am a businessman, father and grandfather who is unequivocally committed to human rights, workers’ rights and especially the women’s rights that your political party is trying to destroy.

This year it was revealed that at Stanford you were a “protestor” for the Vietnam War.

You protested in favor of the defining war of our generation but you refused to actually fight in it. The record shows that you cheered the conscription of our fellow countrymen as you stood uselessly on the sidelines with pro-war signs held high. And in the most despicable and unforgivable act of cowardice for an able-bodied war advocate: You refused to go. You proclaimed that North Vietnam was a threat that justified the lives of our generation, but you felt yourself to be too precious to risk losing yours. Mr. Romney, that is shameful, disgraceful and outrageous.

Your five able-bodied sons supported the Iraq War. But neither they, your father, nor any of your Romney grandfathers has ever served in the military defense of this nation.

I am humbled and honored that Stanford students have twice in the past 10 years invited me to campus to present talks about the human rights reforms that we accomplished at Stanford in the 1960s; I was also a co-founder of the Stanford Black Student Union. The religious canon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in which you were an elder during this same period, was grounded in so-called “edicts from God,” which proclaimed me, other people of color, Jews and certain other non-Mormons, as sub-humans.

Even so, the fact that you were an elder in this aggressive belief system would be a moot point if you were not in 2012 enthusiastically leading a political party whose social and governing policy is to deny women sovereignty over their own bodies and promote racial bigotry and the abuse of workers.

What is the evidence that you have any degree of the kind of character that American citizens look for in their president?

The United States represents the very highest aspirations of humanity. Since 1965, there has been for the first time in human history a society in which the rights of all are equally protected, as inscribed in the sacred text of our 14th Amendment. Blacks, women, newly immigrated citizens of color, gays and all previously marginalized groups now have expanded access to political leadership, business opportunities, cultural influence and employment appropriate to our skills.

Despite the best efforts of Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachmann, Donald Trump, Jack Welch, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and others of your political persuasion, the United States will continue moving inexorably forward. We will lead the world as a society that is racially, ethnically and gender-diverse under the courageous, ethical and visionary leadership of President Barack Hussein Obama.

Sincerely,

Keni Washington ‘68

  • Guest

    Moving commentary and very well said. I’m proud to be one of Keni Washington’s fellow Stanford Alumni.

  • Guest

    Lots of empty rhetoric, very little substance.

    The argument that supporting a war but not fighting in it physically is hypocritical makes absolutely no sense. Mitt supported our troops and the war abroad, but that doesn’t mean he had to fight physically to prove his devotion. Perhaps he realized that he would better serve his country as a business and political leader rather than as a soldier.

    Racial bigotry? Completely unsubstantiated. Mainstream Mormonism doesn’t display any of the “bigotry” that you claim, you’re mixing up the average Mormon with Mormon fundamentalism. Also, the conflict over black priesthood was resolved in the 1970s, right after the Civil Rights movement. One of my best friends here at Stanford is a Mormon, and I take personal offense to your baseless claims.

    Evidence of character? Romney once shut down his entire business and brought himself and his employees to New York City to search for one of his business partners’ missing 14 years old daughter. Moreover, when Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and wouldn’t use an expense account. He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts.

    Despite the attempts of the liberal media to demonize Romney, he has proven to the American people time and time again of his devotion to his country and his ability to achieve real progress in government and in business. It would be great if the Left can start talking about the real issues facing our country instead of all these polarizing distractions.

  • Rickbsig

    It just so happens that Tiger Woods, who roomed with a White Sigma Chi member, who is now the golf coach at Oregon University, pledged Sigma Chi but his father, Earl pulled him out after two days during the initiation week ceremonies due to Earl thinking more about the $5M endorsement by Nike rather than having his son become a member of the premier men’s Fraternity in North America. Casey Martin is the Brother and golf coach and still good friend of Tiger Woods, to which no one can deny that. Further, many of the Chapters throughout all of North America have many Black members along with Viet members, Chinese member, Japanese members, etc. I could continue for many more sentences but, wasting my time discussing a matter that happened over 40 years ago is a complete waste of time. THE HAND OF TIME WRITES! AND, HAVING WRITTEN, MOVES ON. And, so should you! Three Cheers for Governor Milt Romney and may he be elected the next President of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. If you were not so blinded by the current rhetoric of our current president you would understand that he is no leader and never will be. He is nothing but a follower and is a puppet of those pulling his strings. In hoc signo vinces!

  • student

    this is weird.

  • Keni_Washington

    To answer your critique of my letter: The clearest test of character and integrity for citizens of any nation that honestly believe that their society is under siege is their willingness to personally defend it.

    I would not have hesitated in 1965 nor would I hesitate now or any time the 47 years in between to personally confront an authentic enemy of the United States and sacrifice my safety and my life defending our nation against it. I cannot imagine myself ever being too old to defend my family, loved ones or the millions of Americans I do not know against real threats. Romney and I certainly were not too young in 1965. I would even defend you and your families. When nations are truly under siege we see old people defending as much as we see youth.

    However, Mr. Romney totally fails this most fundamental test of presidential character. He and the able bodied sons he has raised display zero commitment to the defense of America in those several times that THEY HAVE WARNED that it is under siege.

    Not unrelated is the fact that Mr. Romney has invested AGAINST the interest of the US economy as he is just as willing to shelter assets off-shore as domestically. ) His Bain Capital business model preys on the vulnerability of workers from Boston to Beijing; as this is written Bain Capital is closing the US company Sensata in Freeport, IL in order to outsource it to China ( http://www.bainport.com ). Bain is forcing its American workers to train the Chinese who will take their jobs. Is this illegal? No. What does it reveal about his character? Despite his wealth and formal education he is totally devoid of any character trait that this great nation requires to lead it.