Staff Editorial: Set the World on Fire, Not Its People


Seven Fordham faculty members have come together to demand that Fordham revoke CIA Director’s John Brennan’s honorary degree, which was conferred in 2012. It was unfortunate that the honor was bestowed upon him then; now, in light of the recent report on torture released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is downright unacceptable.

There’s a clear line between interrogation and torture. While the CIA’s job is to collect information in order protect the United States, waterboarding detainees to death or depriving them of sleep, food and clothing do nothing except pile on human rights violations for the U.S.

Regardless of how terrible criminals are and how heinous their deeds are, no one deserves to be tortured to death for information. By glorifying those involved in orchestrating extreme torture tactics, we are enabling this form of violence to continue.

We, as citizens of the United States, cannot stand for torture.

We, as members of the Fordham community, cannot legitimize torture.

As a Jesuit institution, Fordham emphasizes cura personalis; a stance that promotes benevolence towards others and an effort towards the betterment of our community. And yes, our nation, continent, and planet are all forms of communities. But what if our own University fails to adhere to its own mission statement?

This is the risk we run if we allow such behavior to continue while we sit in silence. There is a point where the scrupulous turns into the unscrupulous, and oftentimes, there is no returning once that point is reached. True, these kinds of tactics are used in large part by the more barbaric and violent forms of humanity out in the world, but replicating such tactics to obtain the results we want is not how we display our moral superiority to the international community.

Fordham works so hard to instill a deep fire within the hearts of all its students to burn for social justice. How, then, can Fordham as an institution stand up and tell its students, “Go forth and set the world on fire,” when they are turning a blind eye on accepting, tolerating and legitimizing an injustice as severe as torture?

All being said, we do not support any practice on the part of the CIA that can be considered “torture,” and we most certainly stand in the camp of those that advocate for more humane forms of interrogation.

We ask that Fordham consider how Brennan’s honorary degree tarnishes the Jesuit tenets that Fordham teaches. We ask that Fordham lead by example.  We ask that Fordham stand against torture.