I found myself disappointed by the editorial on the possible hiring of Larry James. Here are my three major opinions.
This man is not only qualified to educate students on psychology, he is overqualified. Being unanimously referred to as “one of the top military psychologists” is not something to dismiss. James has seen some of the darkest and most serious aspects of psychology. His knowledge and experience are invaluable to all students, especially students interested in psychology. Besides that, it was pointed out that he was assigned to Abu Ghraib in response to the abuse scandal. He did not cause, support or endorse the abuse. Additionally, he has not been sentenced or even charged for any crimes or abuses. What ever happened to presumed innocence? Two separate boards could not find any reason to follow through with any charges. And if he is charged, then he will be charged. The University of Missouri will not be charged or suffer any liability. Additionally, how many people will actually choose to not come to Mizzou because of a single hire? On the other hand, how many psychology students will come to Mizzou to study under this top psychologist? What about Wright State, where James is currently the dean of the psychology school? Have their admissions declined or donations fallen since he has been there? My point is that James has already been employed at a university — what major damages has that university suffered? If his presence was truly damaging and detrimental to a university’s reputation, why have we not seen Wright State fire him or suffer as a result of his presence?
Besides that, look at the “outrage” that is constantly referred to as the reason not to hire James. There was a 30-person march out of 34,000 students, 30 people (not all students) marched. Only 30. In the article covering the protest, the photos depicted some of those protestors carrying signs with scenes of torture and abuse from Abu Ghraib attached to them, and several of the protestors spoke to (Maneater staff writer Beatriz) Costa-Lima about people they know who were harmed or killed in Abu Ghraib. As we have established, James was not involved in Abu Ghraib, he was moved there after that scandal broke to analyze it. It is as reasonable to blame James for the abuses that occurred there as it is to blame a random Iraqi or Afghani for terrorism. You cannot place the crimes of others and organizations on a single man without any proof. As for Guantanamo, he has written about his guilt and admitted his fault in being complacent with abuses there. So the only people protesting were those who only reacted out of blind anger with only assumptions, not research. Thirty blindly angry people hardly represent a legitimate outrage.
More importantly, the march could have been 30 or 3,000. It does not matter. The university does not exist to bend to the whim of the blind masses. The university exists to encourage and further education. If James is the most qualified candidate, he deserves the job. Period.
My main point is that there are only valid reasons to hire Mr. James. He is extremely qualified in his field, he is familiar with working at a university, he poses no threats or liabilities and a few blindly upset people do not represent the best interests of the university.
I look forward to welcoming James as a fellow member of the Mizzou family.
-William G. Matis
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