If there was a consensus to be found at Colorado College's Shove Chapel Tuesday night, it was only, as the college's president Dick Celeste implored, "The importance of maintaining our country's tradition of dissent and rigorous debate."
The subject of the hastily assembled dialogue was -- what else? -- the war in Iraq. The assembled panelists included Celeste, former ambassador to India and former director of the Peace Corps; CC professors Libby Rittenberg and John Riker; and visiting professor and alumnus Gregg Easterbrook, now a senior editor at The New Republic magazine.
Each spoke on different topics, the most provocative of which came from Easterbrook, who in the quiet way of a pundit challenged the overwhelmingly anti-war crowd by debunking some of their charges, most notably that the war is being waged primarily for oil.
The evening's most academic commentary came from Rittenberg, who churned out talking points on the precarious state of Turkey and the significance of its internal struggle between secular democracy and Islamic theocracy. Riker, a philosophy professor, outlined the many ways war can dehumanize even those who are not on its front lines.
Ultimately though, the night belonged to the students who were quick to line up behind the microphone. There, they directed mostly multi-part questions that were so rambling that they could have easily been mistaken for, gasp, political salvos, including claims that the past sins of American foreign policy make its current campaign suspect.
"The administration is an oligopoly of rich businessmen," said student Charles Nichols. "Most people think there's something wrong with this (war) but they can't quite get their finger on it. That's because there's a lot of shady shit going on. I feel like the truth (about this war) is being suppressed."
-- by John Dicker
photo by Sean Cayton