Someone attending a sporting event at Mennonite-affiliated Goshen College got his or her panties in a knot because Goshen, doesn’t play the National Anthem before games. (Just as with my alma mater, Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen takes the Mennonite loyalty to Christ over the state very seriously.) So this disgruntled sports fan called conservative radio talk show host Mike Gallagher to berate a liberal arts school with a student body somewhere south of 2,000. MWR reports that, apart from the McCarthyite concern with pledging allegiance to state authority, Gallagher is worried that pacifist Mennonites may not represent war fairly:
On his New York-based The Mike Gallagher Show, eighth in the nation in audience size, Gallagher criticized Goshen in a Nov. 7 broadcast, then invited Bill Born, dean of students, to speak on the show Nov. 10.
In that broadcast, Gallagher said he appreciated “the Christian nature of the Mennonite church,” but was concerned about whether Goshen was teaching against war in U.S. history.
“How would any student get an honest assessment of war at the Goshen College environment?” Gallagher said.
What Gallagher means, of course, is that pacifist history professors can’t be trusted to represent war as useful or necessary. And frankly, he’s right. In eight years of Mennonite private-school education, I took a lot of history classes, and I can’t say I ever got the impression that war was worthwhile. But that wasn’t because my teachers were teaching propaganda – it was because they fully represented the costs and consequences of armed conflict.
My question to Gallagher is, how can a history teacher honestly tell her students that war is useful or necessary?