To the Editor:

When I was in first grade, my class used to play a game called “Opposites.” Shirts were worn inside out, recess was held indoors, and “you’re welcome” always preceded “thank you.” With that in mind, I felt as though I were transported to 1989 when I read the melodramatic tirade of Rod Swenson MFA ’68 (“Barak is not a man of peace, but an untried war criminal,” 10/9). It seems that somehow in his mind, the great enemy of our day is not barbaric fanaticism but the military response to such evil. According to his illogic, we should not support the sovereignty of the sole democracy in the Middle East, but rather the terrorizing efforts of a cadre of rogue thugs. We must not put our faith in a state in which women are high-ranking military officials and gay pride parades are commonplace. Instead, we ought to side with an anti-Semitic, human rights-bashing regime that richly rewards parents whose brainwashed, suicidal children blow themselves up in hopes they might take a few Jews with them.

I understand where Swenson may be coming from. My heart also goes out to the Palestinian people. They have long been the tragically innocent victims of Israel’s justifiable campaign to combat terror. What I don’t understand is Swenson’s radical suggestion that fighting terror — as Barak has done throughout his military and political career — constitutes “genocide.” By equating Barak’s anti-terror tactics with the perils of Nazism, Swenson has relinquished his credibility. Swenson goes as far as declaring that Barak belongs not in Battell Chapel but before The Hague. By this line of reasoning, so do Lincoln, Roosevelt, Churchill and every head of state who has ever resorted to violence in order to protect a greater good.

As a moderate liberal, I deplore radical fanaticism on the left and the right. I am disheartened by Swenson’s dangerous rhetoric, but I am thankful that he reminded me of my favorite childhood game of a whimsical world in which black is white, up is down, and — somehow — good is bad.

Matt Patterson ’05

October 9, 2002