A lecturer at Iowa State University sparked controversy this week when he slammed both the military and the school's College Republicans in a letter to the Iowa State Daily student newspaper.
"Why do Republicans care so much about the military? Because the military-industrial complex is dear to their simplistic laissez-faire fantasies: a bottom-line patriotism that excludes the people at the bottom," Thomas Walker wrote.
"Soldiers are to Republicans as fetuses are to them: prized. But once out of the womb-like army, Republican solicitude for hapless veterans goes where extracted zygotes go," he said.
Walker, who teaches English, was mocking a recent drive by the College Republicans to collect items to send to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for holiday care packages. He slammed those efforts, writing: "Donating toiletries, boxed and canned foods, socks and beanies to U.S. soldiers who can already deodorize themselves, who eat better than the poorest Americans and who are gallantly garbed, is an eleemosynary travesty."
Instead, he said, "Necessities should be doled out to people who really need them and who might get them if not for the hundreds of billions of dollars being funneled to the Pentagon in the greatest squandering of money on the planet."
Walker's letter, published Monday, triggered a flurry of outrage on campus, as well as a series of responses in the student newspaper. The university's board of regents termed it "fairly offensive" in addressing the matter Thursday.
"I, along with many Iowans, was offended and disgusted by the unfortunate and highly inappropriate remarks made against our soldiers in uniform," Regent President Pro-Tem Bruce Rastetter said, according to the Iowa Gazette. "Not only did Mr. Walker insult our sons and daughters in uniform — he also questioned the kind and humanitarian efforts made by our students to ensure that our soldiers know we care about them and are exceedingly grateful for their service."
Kyle Bitterman, a senior and a member of the Army ROTC, told the regents that as a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, he knows how much care packages like the ones the College Republicans were sending can mean to soldiers overseas. He said ROTC members were shocked by the letter, but know the rest of the university does not share Walker's opinion.
"We have a great amount of support here from the university as a whole," he said.
Bitterman added that ROTC members would not support any disciplinary action against Walker for expressing his views.
Iowa State president Gregory Geoffroy said he was very disappointed Walker chose to write such a letter, and that the views expressed in no way represent the school.
Iowa State University hosted a GOP presidential debate in August ahead of the closely-watched Ames Iowa Straw Poll.