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University Apologizes For E-Mail Critical Of Academy Cadet
St. Xavier Professor Blasts Military's 'Baby Killing Tactics'
8:54 AM, Nov 14, 2002
St. Xavier University has apologized for a blistering e-mail from one of its professors to an
Air Force Academy student that said U.S. military personnel were
partly to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Peter Kirstein, a history professor at St. Xavier in Chicago,
was responding to an e-mail from Air Force cadet Robert Kurpiel
asking for help to promote an academic forum at the academy.
Kirstein's reply read, "I am furious you would even think I
would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of
collateral damage," The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported
The e-mail also compared Kurpiel to the sniper or snipers who
terrorized the Washington area.
St. Xavier President Richard Yanikoski posted an apology on the
school's Web site.
"I offer my most sincere apologies to all in the military and
beyond whose sacrifices and intentions have been denigrated by
professor Kirstein's words," he wrote.
Kirstein, a tenured professor who has taught at St. Xavier for
28 years, also apologized.
"I should have written him in a more
thoughtful and contemplative manner," he said in a letter posted
on St. Xavier's Web site. "As one who believes in non-violence and the avoidance of conflict, I could have been more circumspect and creative in my communication with him."
The Academy has accepted his apology, saying, "... through well considered words and messages, a situation that was initally highly inflammatory has become one in which diverse ideas can be compared and discussed."
In the written response released to the public, Capt. Jim Border of the Academy added a quote that is published in the cadet's schoolbook, "It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Yanikoski said Kirstein's e-mail was not protected by academic
freedom. St. Xavier spokeswoman Michelle Michael said the
university is considering a disciplinary hearing.
Air Force Academy officials declined to comment.
Kurpiel had asked help promoting the Academic Assembly in
February on "America's Challenges in an Unstable World: Balancing
Security with Liberty."