Hamilton College in the Press

Last summer, the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture, an on-campus organization at Hamilton College (where Aram is studying) invited Ward Churchill to give a lecture to around 150 students tomorrow (3 Feb). Mr. Churchill had previously offended many an American by sharing his views about the 9/11 disaster in an article he wrote, comparing the United States’ 10 year offensive against Iraq to Hitler’s invasion of Russia and neighbouring countries. When Fox News (“Fair and balanced” my arse, they’re owned by Rupert Murdoch) got wind of this invitation and, of course, made a great fuss about it, the college was deluged by protests and eventually had to cancel the appearance of this controversial character because of credible death threats directed at Ward and Hamilton officials. Ward was even planning on donning a bullet-proof jacket and was to have two body guards!

I find it incredible how the US moulds itself as the keeper of world democracy, a “free country”, and all sorts of other things and, simultaneously, manages to harbour such truly hateful citizens angry about someone simply trying to exercise their right to free speech (even if the whole nation feels so strongly about the subject and the article was very provocative). Hamilton has a very interesting news page about the subject, which has generated an extraordinary amount of hate mail and such remarkable fliers as this one.

So instead of offering the chance to 150 interested students to listen to Ward’s views, if they wanted to, the university was forced to cancel the speech because of the immense threat of violence.

More sensationalist stories, and one slightly more balanced (free reg. required) about the event.

2 thoughts on “Hamilton College in the Press

  1. Thanks for writing about this Chris! It’s crazy here on campus – the media storm was both unexpected and unwanted – and the fallout has been nothing short of depressing (>6000 emails to our President’s email address and multiple death threats to the Hamilton professors involved with the panel, as well as of course, President Stewart and Ward Churchill). Hopefully once I get my act together, I’ll get around to writing an entry on this – but I’ve been so wrapped up in this controversy and attending faculty meetings/gatherings, that I’ve got to spend some time now catching up on work!

  2. Well that has been an interesting hour or so reading the pros and cons. How do I feel about it? Well we know of victims of 9/11 and our hearts go out to them and the survivors. As to Churchill I read his essay and he mad some valid points. Yes we are all complicit in the attack/liberation of Iraq and will have to answer for it. However I supported it on the grounds that I thought Saddam had been terrorising his own nation for long enough. He was committing genocide against the Kurds, the ‘Marsh Arabs’ and others who disagreed with him. Also there were the many who died in his campaigns against Iran and Kuwait. And I thought it was mostly down to Saddam that many thousands of his fellow citizens, the ‘500,000 tikes’ died, it was after all his corrupt regime that diverted much of the legitimate funding into building ego-boosting palaces and monuments (remember the one with all the Iranian helmets piled-up under two sword held aloft). For good or ill I thought the invasion was legitimate, and given the turn out at the election on Sunday the people of Iraq, except for those intimidated by that lover of war and torture, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, if not grateful for the bombing and subsequent destruction are relishing the chance to take political control of their country. Whether the election and hopeful withdrawal of allied troops will be achieved remains to be seen.
    So that is where I am coming from. I do feel however that Ward Churchill has many points of a legitimate nature. I do not deny my fellow citizens right to free speech, and though some of the points he makes are distasteful many are valid. ‘Little Eichman’s is horrible phrase, but he explains it well. He is making the point that we all have to take responsibility for decisions made by those who govern us, particularly if we have legitimately elected them. In the UK we possibly have to take more responsibility for this than our neighbours in the US, as Blair’s government certainly has legitimacy and the overwhelming mandate of the UK voter (I am not going to be diverted into discussing the electoral system). As the Germans elected Hitler (debatable) they legitimised the actions of his government. The actions taken (even if in secret) seem to have had the tacit approval of the nation, and thus they took responsibility after the war and have grown into a mature and stable democracy. We have to take responsibility for the shameful treatment by some of ‘our’ troops and more especially our governments that have sanctioned the locking up without trial or representation of many hundreds of so-called combatants. We have to wonder how our allies, the US, allow the execution of many of their fellow citizens, even minors and the clearly insane, as well as the innocent and their torture (cf the the many times that Kenny Richey was on death watch). We have to wonder how a Baptist church has the e-mail address godhatesfaggots and not godsaysweshouldloveoneanother? And what of those founding fathers of the country who did not see that it was self evident that slavery was incompatible with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    I’ve probably said far too much, but shame on those who offered threats of violence, on those who wilfully distorted the reporting on this issue to upset the survivors of 9/11 and their families. And our sympathies to those affected by this ridiculous episode.

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