I am writing to express my deep concern about Westmont’s widely advertised sponsorship of a paid speaking engagement with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. I grew up next to Westmont, attended at least a dozen summer camps there, was a water boy for the basketball team, and know a number of fine human beings who were educated there. In all of my years of acquaintance with the college, nothing would lead me to believe that Westmont would want to formally associate itself with a person as out of alignment with Christian values as Henry Kissinger.
Since the release of declassified CIA records in 2000, numerous documents and tapes have connected Kissinger to secret bombings in Cambodia (which killed over a half million people), to support of the dictator Augusto Pinochet (who, with the help of the CIA, overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile), to support for the military dictatorship in Argentina that “disappeared” thousands of people, to support of President Suharto of Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. These tapes and documents present a very real picture of a man characterized by a callous lack of regard for human life and a complete lack of Christian values. Please do not take my word for it. As an academic institution, Westmont is in an ideal position to access the public records and analyses of Kissinger’s time in office.
If, after review, Westmont still thinks Henry Kissinger is a man of moral fiber and good Christian values, then so be it. If not, I would like to suggest that this should be a topic of public discussion. What type of behavior is acceptable in our leaders? Are secret bombings of nations, with which we are not at war, appropriate? How many civilian casualties are acceptable in these bombings? Whether Cambodia in the 1970s, or Yemen today, these issues come up again and again.
It is my hope that Westmont will take a moment to remember its core values and to support people, ideas, and causes that uphold, rather than undermine, those values.
Thank you for your consideration.