Web Exclusives: TigersRoar

Letter Box


A letter from an alum about

March 29, 2003

The presidents of all Ivy League universities need to come together to take a principled position to condemn Columbia assistant professor of anthropology Nicholas De Genova for his on campus "teach-in" remarks to 3,000 cheering students where he called for the defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq. He went on to say that all Americans who see themselves as "patriots" are White supremacists, a racial taunt. He then surpassed himself in crudity and hate by claiming that the only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat and kill the U.S. military through a "million Mogadishus," where U.S. servicemen were killed and dragged through the streets by Somalian street thugs. Such remarks are grotesque and offensive to both pro-war and anti-war proponents.

Predictably, Columbia University did not demand Professor De Genova's immediate resignation. Instead they defended his right to free speech and claimed his views do not represent those of the university. How would Columbia have reacted if one of their professors had hidden behind free speech and advocated the killing, murder and mayhem of blacks in the streets of America by the Ku Klux Klan? Any professor who dared touch this politically incorrect third rail of racial killing would be condemned and quite properly dismissed. Similarly, discriminatory remarks by a university employee that denigrated gays or women or employment discrimination would incur the wrath of the university and result in the immediate dismissal of the perpetrator.

A year ago you wrote that young people of today need to develop a deeper understanding of the sacrifices involved in winning and maintaining the freedoms we enjoy. You said those of us who lead the universities of this nation have an important responsibility in this respect. Words have consequences. Freedom has a price; it cannot exist unless accompanied by civility and personal responsibility. I would hope you will not take the position that this is Columbia's problem alone, and that you will join your colleagues in asking Columbia president Lee C. Bollinger to do what he has so-far failed to do — dismiss Professor De Genova who is trying to hide behind his Ist amendment rights.

Robert C. Hazard Jr. ’56
Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Respond to this letter
Send a letter to PAW

Go back to our online Letter Box Table of Contents


Current Issue    Online Archives    Printed Issue Archives
Advertising Info    Reader Services    Search    Contact PAW    Your Class Secretary