Paul Lauritzen portrays Gilbert Meilaender as a stalwart defender of human life (“Intellectual Street Fighter,” May 21). But from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Meilaender is not too keen on protecting life from the clutches of militarism. On the subject of the war in Iraq—one of the foremost assaults on life in our time—Meilaender was conspicuously absent without leave. In the spirit of Meilaender’s alleged candor and bluntness, allow me to relate the following incident.
In the fall of 2002, I attended and delivered a paper at a conference held at Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. Naturally, as those months were a tense prelude to the invasion of Iraq, several of the panels were devoted to war and peace. (All of them were bellicose, I might add, especially the ones dominated by Evangelical scholars.) One of the bigger-ticket panels featured Meilaender, Russell Hittinger, and an Air Force veteran and scholar whose name I’m glad I can’t remember. The Air Force vet was clearly hopped up for war. Hittinger mumbled some forgettable remarks about the United Nations, the tone of which, I do recall, was not favorable. Meilaender’s talk was unmemorable as well, but during the Q and A, he revealed himself to be a good deal more credulous than Lauritzen’s profile would lead you to think.