A History Professor's Irrational Rage
by Andy and Berit Kjos
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History Professor Peter Kirstein is very sorry. He has apologized for his rabid response to a friendly request from Air Force Academy cadet, Robert Kurpiel. Yet, the dismay he provoked has prompted a closer look at the revolutionary ideals taught at many trusted universities. Having exposed a simmering hatred for America that often drives the social sciences departments, the professor's letter now serves as a warning and wake-up call both to parents and to other liberal teachers.
It all began in October 2002 with a simple request for help. Air Force Cadet Kurpiel explains the need in his email note:
"Dear Sir or Ma'am,
"The Air Force Academy is going to be having our annual Academy Assembly. This is a forum for mainly but not only Political Science majors, discussing very important issues dealing with politics. Right now we are in the planning stage for advertising and we would appreciate your help.... What would be the best way for us to advertise at your school whether it is sending you the fliers and you making copies or by perhaps putting an advertisement in your local publication? We would appreciate your input and the cost of what your recommend.
"Thank you for your time and consideration.
Very Respectfully, Cadet Robert Kurpiel" 
Though not addressed to Dr. Peter Kirstein, Professor of History at Saint Xavier University, the letter was forwarded to him. A pacifist with little love for the U.S. military, he raged back at the poor cadet:
"Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 1:46 PM
Subject: Re: Academy Assembly
"You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage. Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour....
"You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra. You are unworthy of my support.'
"Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University" 
This communication may sound like a private or personal matter between two men. But keep in mind, the young Cadet represented the Air Force Academy Assembly, and the elite professor wrote his response on behalf of his university. Their letters quickly ignited a fire-storm of indignation across the nation, forcing Saint Xavier University to discipline the errant professor.
To help still the storm, Captain Jim Borders, the Director of the Academy Assembly wrote a public letter to clarify the issues. Here is a portion of his letter:
"Subject: An Open Letter from the Academy Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen,
"There has been considerable attention given to an e-mail received by a Fourth Class Cadet here at the United States Air Force Academy from Professor Peter N. Kirstein....
"Please find below a letter of apology from Dr Kirstein which I received this morning, accompanied by a phone call. I have drafted this message in response to his correspondence and with an advance copy to Dr. Kirstein. On behalf of the Academy Assembly I accept this apology in the same sincere manner in which it was given.
"...though emotions have run understandably high throughout the USAFA Cadet Wing in response to this e-mail, replies to this e-mail from our cadets have been, almost without exception, marked by great maturity and professionalism. I was presented nearly forty proposed responses to the original e-mail from cadets, but the one that best encapsulates the opinion of the cadet wing is a quote from their book, Contrails, which serves as not only a statement for others, but an admonition for themselves.
"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." ~Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, Sergeant, USMC."
Professor Kirstein has been suspended and his anti-American outbursts silenced for the moment. Yet, since his values continue to reign on many a university campus, we do well to consider how he uses (or misuses) the freedoms only found in the nation he so despises. Even his "apology" seemed to focus on his failure to be polite rather than any recanting of his views.
At his website, Professor Kirstein has posted a section called My Teaching Philosophy. His ten points include these three:
- Instructors should be secure and unafraid to express their opinions. They have every right to do so and should be free to engage in academic revisionism in their field....
- Teach what interests you even in a required "core" course. ...
- Be prepared for occasional frustration when students don't always respond to your enthusiasm and dreams. [emphasis added]
These points beg some serious questions -- especially since Professor Kirstein has already shown us his expressed opinion:
Have university professors been granted freedom to actually revise history and documented facts in order to transmit their own values to a captive audience?
Do they have academic freedom to deviate from the "required" course material that brought the students to their classes in the first place?
Professor Kirstein refers to an "occasional frustration" caused by students who refuse to embrace his revolutionary ideas and irrational dreams. He seems to imply that few students show any resistance or dissent. If that is true, what does that tell us about the minds of our children?
How many students would be willing to compromise their convictions in order to pass the class or lift their grades? Would such revolutionary teaching strengthen their faith and encourage perseverance? Or would it pressure them into an unbiblical consensus and force them to adapt both their understanding of history and their view of the Bible to the radical new view of a global spirituality and worldwide solidarity?
Air Force Cadet Kurpiel stood his ground. His grades didn't depend on his ideological accord, but on college campuses across the country, Christian students are forced to weigh a difficult choice. What is more important -- good grades or resisting revolutionary philosophy that tolerates little opposition.
Think about it -- then pray for our children and grandchildren. This battle will sure spread and intensify in the years ahead.
1. The story spread across America in spite of the expected silence of the The Mainstream Media
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