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Barbara Harvey wrote the following summary of the University of Michigan controversy to the Jewish Voice for Peace-Detroit Coordinating Committee and allowed us to publish it. –Ed.
 
In a nutshell, the globally worshipped Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was invited — and then “disinvited” to be the featured speaker at the U of M Center for the Education of Women celebration of its 50th anniversary, reportedly because donors to the event do not like her views on the Israeli Occupation. The current news is that Prof. Gloria Thomas, the Center director, has privately assured recently retired literature professor Alan Wald that she is now “working on re-extending” “an” invitation. Apparently, there was effective media coverage by Ali Abunimah in Electronic Intifada and Phil Weiss at Mondoweiss, and effective behind-the-scenes activity by the powerful writer and UCLA professor, Robin Kelly, as well as by widely loved recently retired U of M professor and author, Alan Wald.  Alan describes Prof. Gloria Thomas [director of the women’s education center] as a lovely person with integrity. This is not about her, personally, but about the process.  
 
The incident is not resolved yet.  The Center director denies that donor pressure influenced her decision and claims that the agent “misunderstood” what happened. And is the “re-extended” invitation an invitation to speak at the Center’s anniversary event?  The Provost’s statement  –link – suggests that it is not an invitation to the Center’s anniversary celebration.  
 
This incident may reveal whether financial donors to the U of M are allowed to veto speakers at official University events or otherwise influence students’ exposure to various perspectives — a question that goes to the academic integrity of the institution.   The Provost denies that the University interferes with free speech on campus, and it does seem to be the case that Alice Walker will be invited to speak on campus at some future time, giving students a chance to hear her views, albeit apparently not the audience that will be attending the Center’s anniversary.  We don’t know with certainty whether one or more donors actually sought to influence the content of an official University event by threatening to revoke a financial gift unless the invited speaker (Walker) was “disinvited,” and we don’t know whether the donor(s) actually succeeded in wielding the power of the purse by forcing cancellation of the chosen speaker — one of the most esteemed writers in the world — based on her support for a view widely shared outside the U.S. and Israel about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, though it certainly looks like it from the evidence that has already come to light. 
 
The sort of behind-the-scenes financial pressure that we fear may have been at work here has been responsible for decades of self-censorship in the U.S. media on this issue, with the result that Americans are the only people in the world who lack balanced and undistorted mainstream media coverage of one of the most important human rights and justice issues of the modern era. We can’t tolerate the same dynamic on U.S. campuses; it would be a serious assault upon campus free speech and academic freedom.  And if this was an attempt at blacklisting, we must speak out strongly against such a modern-day resurrection of McCarthyism. 
 
How often will it happen that such actions see the light of day? The answer is: Not often. Of this much, we are sure.   
Barbara Harvey
About Barbara Harvey

Barbara Harvey has long advocated for human rights with such organizations as the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. She is active with Jewish Voice for Peace.

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51 Responses

  1. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    August 18, 2013, 9:36 am

    Money quote:

    The sort of behind-the-scenes financial pressure that we fear may have been at work here has been responsible for decades of self-censorship in the U.S. media on this issue, with the result that Americans are the only people in the world who lack balanced and undistorted mainstream media coverage of one of the most important human rights and justice issues of the modern era. We can’t tolerate the same dynamic on U.S. campuses; it would be a serious assault upon campus free speech and academic freedom. And if this was an attempt at blacklisting, we must speak out strongly against such a modern-day resurrection of McCarthyism.

    This situation, without exaggeration or hyperbole, will eventually be understood to be one of the most important political controversies in American history — especially when considered in combination with a wide range of destructive policies that have been promoted by the Israel lobby.

  2. just
    just
    August 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    Thanks to Ms. Harvey. She puts forth a strong position, as you do Phil. I really hope that this gets wider attention from the MSM– the ENTIRE sorry story of how money and influence are destroying free speech and expression.

    Alice Walker is a world treasure, and more people should read/hear her. I guess that her plea to Alicia Keys put her in disfavor with the “in” crowd. Unfortunately, Keys ignored her honorable plea and performed in Apartheid Israel, but this action by U of M was/is unconscionable.

    I would still like to hear Mr. and Mrs. Obama speak out on this. At least Arne Duncan should have something to say.

    • just
      just
      August 18, 2013, 11:26 am

      I forgot to add that though the entire piece is well done, I especially liked this:

      “How often will it happen that such actions see the light of day? The answer is: Not often. Of this much, we are sure.”

      ” Apparently, there was effective media coverage by Ali Abunimah in Electronic Intifada and Phil Weiss at Mondoweiss, and effective behind-the-scenes activity by the powerful writer and UCLA professor, Robin Kelly, as well as by widely loved recently retired U of M professor and author, Alan Wald.”

      Drip, drip, drip. Every day more and more people are awakening from their uninformed, indifferent and deep Ziocaine induced slumber, thanks to people like those she cites above and Ms. Harvey.

  3. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    August 18, 2013, 11:04 am

    Phil,

    There appears to be a dead silence about the Alice Walker story in the mainstream media — consult Google News:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=alice+walker&tbm=nws

    In essence, the story is being heavily suppressed and censored by the powers that be. They don’t want any public knowledge or discussion of the controversy — they are afraid of where that discussion may lead.

  4. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    August 18, 2013, 11:33 am

    Alice Walker in response to the dis invite “the truth can not be hidden forever” Heck the truth came out rather quickly this time around. So great that people contacted Univ of Michigan and let them know what they thought about the censorship

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 18, 2013, 11:44 am

    I agree too. We already have censorship by the controlling shareholders and/or owners of our handful of US news corporations, as well as by their advertisers on the issue of Israel. And our government officials, elected or appointed, are also curtailed on the same issue. Remember Hagel getting vetted and 29 standing ovations for Netanyahu’s hasbara by our congress critters? Remember the Jerusalem amendment issue at the last DNC, on public television yet? Burial of the AIPAC spy case? Lavon, USS Liberty?

    The last thing Americans need is censorship on our university campuses, last bastion of the free play of ideas.

  6. just
    just
    August 18, 2013, 12:09 pm

    From wiki:

    “In 1965, Walker met Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967 in New York City. Later that year the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming “the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi”.[42][43] They were harassed and threatened by whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. The couple had a daughter Rebecca in 1969. Walker and her husband divorced in 1976.[44]”

    “Walker was born in Putnam County, Georgia,[3] the youngest of eight children, to Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant. Her father, who was, in her words, “wonderful at math but a terrible farmer,” earned only $300 ($4,000 in 2013 dollars) a year from sharecropping and dairy farming. Her mother supplemented the family income by working as a maid.[4] She worked 11 hours a day for USD $17 per week to help pay for Alice to attend college.[5]

    Living under Jim Crow laws, Walker’s parents resisted landlords who expected the children of black sharecroppers to work the fields at a young age. A white plantation owner said to her that black people had “no need for education”. Minnie Lou Walker said, “You might have some black children somewhere, but they don’t live in this house. Don’t you ever come around here again talking about how my children don’t need to learn how to read and write.” Her mother enrolled Alice in first grade at the age of four.[6]”

    “After high school, Walker went to Spelman College in Atlanta on a full scholarship in 1961 and later transferred to Sarah Lawrence College near New York City, graduating in 1965. Walker became interested in the U.S. civil rights movement in part due to the influence of activist Howard Zinn, who was one of her professors at Spelman College. Continuing the activism that she participated in during her college years, Walker returned to the South where she became involved with voter registration drives, campaigns for welfare rights, and children’s programs in Mississippi.[9]”

    I guess that she’s a survivor of many things that the average donor cannot or will not ever even try to imagine or believe.

    • bintbiba
      bintbiba
      August 18, 2013, 2:51 pm

      Wonderful, thanks for that, just. I’ve followed Alice Walker and her work for years since she landed into our consciousness with “The Colour Purple”! and her Pulitzer. And seeing her and Angela Davis among the panel of the Russell Tribunal made my heart sing.

  7. annie
    annie
    August 18, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Alan describes Prof. Gloria Thomas [director of the women’s education center] as a lovely person with integrity. This is not about her, personally, but about the process.

    i’m sure she is a very lovely person, and no, this is not about her personally. however, there is not process without a processor or processors. and it is always more pleasant having a lovely processor delivering the bad news. but i have this feeling we’re not being told the whole truth from the lovely processor Prof. Gloria Thomas or the provost.

    This incident may reveal whether financial donors to the U of M are allowed to veto speakers at official University events or otherwise influence students’ exposure to various perspectives — a question that goes to the academic integrity of the institution.

    there’s that word integrity again. can someone flush out for me how Prof. Gloria Thomas can be a person of integrity while simultaneously carrying out this degrading process and not telling the truth about it.

    The Center director denies that donor pressure influenced her decision and claims that the agent “misunderstood” what happened.

    because either we’re wrong and she’s telling the truth, or she’s not a person of high integrity. this may be very painful for her and a difficult decision, but people deserve the truth.

    The Provost denies that the University interferes with free speech on campus

    oh please. changing a date and venue is very much an interference with free speech. it may not be a denial of free speech, but this is definitely an interference. and it goes to the integrity of the university, the provost, and the lovely processor Prof. Gloria Thomas.

    and yes, it’s personal. very actually.

    so what are they afraid of? the little people finding out who has the purse strings?

    • just
      just
      August 18, 2013, 12:24 pm

      It would be very refreshing to see a very PUBLIC honest admission of regret and abject apology, as well as an explanation of the drones behind the curtain and the power that they wield and why.

      Integrity is indeed missing. So is honesty. So is the Constitution.

    • Denis
      Denis
      August 18, 2013, 11:47 pm

      ya’ nailed that one Annie annie. There is no integrity here I don’t care how they characterize Ms. Thomas. Dr. Thomas. Prof. Thomas. Whatever.

      This is racism.

      Not directed at Walker or blacks. Directed at the victims of Israeli apartheid: Palestinians.

      What modicum of integrity can one possibly find in racism, in supporting apartheid?

      Integrity my . . . [ ]ss. Anybody wanna’ buy a vowel?

  8. Blownaway
    Blownaway
    August 18, 2013, 12:29 pm

    Until there is an alternative source of money that will allow those in power to do the right thing, this will continue to be a problem. It a clever tactic akin to a drug dealer, hook em on the drug (money) then use the leverage of withdrawal. Sad that our educational institutions are forced to choose between ethics and money. The good news is that sunshine is a great disinfectant and with the internet these things don’t happen in the dark any more

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      August 18, 2013, 12:58 pm

      Blownaway,

      Until there is an alternative source of money that will allow those in power to do the right thing, this will continue to be a problem.

      The Israel lobby, because of the immense financial influence it wields in American politics and culture, is confident that it can keep critics of Israel safely bottled up and marginalized — like a turtle on its back waggling its legs and getting nowhere.

      It’s calculations may be on the money. (no pun intended)

      Mainstream media outlets are still vastly more powerful than small Internet blogs and forums — and purchasing the services of members of the US Congress is a snap.

      In other words, there may be no way to stop the drift towards a catastrophic blowup in the Middle East — it is simply going to happen.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        August 18, 2013, 2:15 pm

        The biggest weakness of Zionism is the existential need for hasbara. I think it’ll collapse before the inferno gets going.

        Zionism is a bit like the now defunct newspaper The News of the World IMO.

  9. Don
    Don
    August 18, 2013, 12:46 pm

    If the University of Michigan really did allow this to occur…the people running this university should be replaced…yesterday.

    As a recipient of massive federal grant money…
    “U-M spent $1.24 billion in research funds in 2010-11, the highest amount of any U.S. public university, according to the National Science Foundation. The previous year, 58 percent of U-M’s research funds came from the federal government.”
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/michigans-three-research-universities-spend-465000-on-federal-lobbying-so-far-in-2012/

    If U of Michigan is violating federal laws…wouldn’t the University be placing that funding in jeopardy? It would simply require someone to initiate a law suit.

    If that were done, I think this sort of thing would cease immediately, and not just at University of Michigan. I highly doubt there are any private donors who have the wealth to rival federal funding on a sustained basis. Not to mention the truly appalling publicity if a suit were filed.

    Federal research funding…that is the way to stop this nonsense occurring at public
    universities… they cannot function without the federal money…and they cannot take the money and violate federal laws.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 18, 2013, 2:24 pm

    RE: “And if this was an attempt at blacklisting, we must speak out strongly against such a modern-day resurrection of McCarthyism.” ~ Barbara Harvey

    SEE – “The AIPAC Politics of Smear: The Secret Section in Israel’s U.S. Lobby That Stifles American Debate”, By Gregory D. Slabodkin, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1992, pages 7-8, 89-91

    [EXCERPTS] During the reign of terror that Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed in the 1950s, when the reputations and lives of many loyal Americans were ruined by false charges of “communism” and “treason,” American Jewry was overwhelmingly opposed to the Wisconsin senator and his blackmail by blacklists. According to the Gallup polls of the time, the percentage of U.S. Jews who opposed McCarthy’s smear tactics was twice that of the rest of the population. Many Jewish organizations passed resolutions condemning McCarthy’s ruthless character assassination.
    Today, however, such national Jewish organizations as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are using the same tactics to stifle open debate of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

    • Secretly Circulated Lists
    To conduct this “neo-McCarthyism,” AIPAC operates a covert section within its research department that monitors and keeps files on politicians, journalists, academics, Arab-American activists, Jewish liberals, and others it labels “anti-Israel.” AIPAC selects information from these files and secretly circulates lists of the “guilty,” together with their alleged political misdeeds, buttressed by their statements, often totally out of context.
    Just as McCarthy’s permanent investigations subcommittee labeled criticism of specific policies of the U.S. government as “anti-American,” or “pro-Soviet,” AIPAC labels criticism of Israeli government policies “anti-Israel,” “pro-Arab” or “pro-PLO.” Still worse is the pro-Israel lobby’s redefinition of “anti-Semitism” to include any such criticism of Israel or its actions. . .
    . . . AIPAC’s “opposition research” department traces its roots to I.L. (Sy) Kenen, who founded AIPAC in 1954. As editor of AIPAC’s weekly Near East Report, he often attacked critics of Israel in his aptly titled column, “The Monitor.” Besides monitoring, analyzing, and responding to “anti-Israel” comment and activities in the United States, Kenen also kept files on AIPAC’s “enemies.” In his final year AIPAC began to expand its intelligence-gathering operations.
    Kenen’s memoirs, “Israel’s Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington”, record how AIPAC pooled resources in 1974 with the American Jewish Committee and other national Jewish organizations to create a “truth squad.” Its purpose was to combat “pro-Arab propaganda” and the emerging “Arab lobby,” which Kenen believed to be a growing threat to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
    “While vigorously defending Israel’s perceived interests, the organizations that created the truth squad turned into a kind of Jewish thought police,” journalist Robert I. Friedman explains. “Investigators—sometimes overzealous Jewish college students, sometimes sources with access to U.S. intelligence agencies—were used to ferret out critics of Israel, Jew or gentile, wherever they might be. At ADL and AIPAC, files were opened on journalists, politicians, scholars and community activists. Their speeches and writings were monitored, as were, in some cases, their other professional activities. And they were often smeared with charges of anti-Semitism or with the pernicious label of self-hating Jew. The intention was to stifle debate on the Middle East within the Jewish community, the media and academia, for fear that criticism of any kind would weaken the Jewish state.”
    When Kenen stepped down as executive director of AIPAC in December 1974, the task of monitoring Israel’s “enemies” was left to the department of research and information at AIPAC, where it has remained ever since. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.wrmea.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10030:the-secret-section-in-israels-us-lobby-that-stifles-american-debate&catid=141

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      August 18, 2013, 2:30 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE (AND/OR LISTEN TO): “Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv”, By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 6/17/12

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Recently, Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the Tel Aviv riots, the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program and how the Israel lobby helps narrow the discourse around Israel in the United States. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole interview here.)

      [EXCERPT]
      . . . • JOSHUA HOLLAND: From your inside perspective on that organization [AIPAC], what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
      • MJ ROSENBERG: They [AIPAC] consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there [at AIPAC] in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
      In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
      They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. . .

      ENTIRE (LIGHTLY EDITED) TRANSCRIPT – http://www.alternet.org/story/155866/why_the_u.s._media_barely_covered_brutal_right-wing_race_riots_in_tel_aviv?paging=off

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      August 18, 2013, 2:44 pm

      P.P.S. Gregory D. Slabodkin . . . was an opposition researcher for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in 1990 and 1991.

  11. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    August 18, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Aren’t 70% of strong Israeli supporters in the US “Christian Zionists”? Many of them are also intensely interested in issues affecting women like abortion.

    That is what is happening. “Christian Zionists” feel very strongly about women’s issues, and when they see a hardcore anti-Israel activist like Alice Walker giving a talk, they are very concerned and their religious convictions just won’t allow them to donate to the talk. And as the agent’s letter says, without the donors, the University just cannot afford to have the anniversary gathering. It’s just too bad, but with these “Christian Zionist” donors and today’s college budgets, there’s absolutely nothing the University could do.

    The other important thing to remember is that the Provost said they are looking for a speaker for a celebration. They need someone who has written books about these issues, especially a woman who has dealt with challenges like race and gender. The other thing is that it can’t be anyone, but someone who has been in news articles and has been known in academia, who some professors and students have heard of. It’s more important than an “invitation”. I’m sorry but if you can’t meet any of these criteria, you’re going to get disinvited. Big universities do dis-invitations everyday, and no one ever feels bad about that, especially not the person who got dis-invited.

    • annie
      annie
      August 18, 2013, 4:33 pm

      I’m sorry but if you can’t meet any of these criteria, you’re going to get disinvited.

      is this a joke w.jones? alice walker meets all the criteria you spoke of which was why she was invited to begin with. did you think the original invitation fell out of a tree in walker’s backyard? doesn’t it occur to you there was some kind of forethought that went into choosing the speaker for the 50th anniversary celebration?

      and this theory about christian zionists and abortion. plllllease, check this list:

      https://news.google.com/news/story?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=alice+walker&ncl=dfFLyq7f376jWJMwp45Ycs0s2-DJM&cf=all&scoring=n

      where are all the right to lifers writing about this? logic please!

      • doug
        doug
        August 18, 2013, 5:09 pm

        Yes annie, I believe it was firmly tongue in cheek.

      • annie
        annie
        August 18, 2013, 6:30 pm

        oh, thank you doug. i guess i owe w.jones an apology.

        sorry w.jones!

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 19, 2013, 8:12 pm

        It’s all good, Annie.

      • southernobserver
        southernobserver
        August 18, 2013, 8:59 pm

        umm, satire. Not bad.

    • tree
      tree
      August 18, 2013, 4:43 pm

      I’d be quite surprised if Christian Zionists were significant donors to higher education facilities outside of those conforming to the Evangelical dogma, i.e. Bob Jones University, et al.

      I seriously doubt that Christian Zionists are big donors to the U of Michigan. I also doubt that these mythical donors would have solely objected to Walker’s position on Israel, as is indicated by the letter sent to Walker from the University “intermediary”. Frankly, Christian Zionists probably object to any Center of Education for Women at UM, and yet it has existed unscathed up until their attempt to invite Alice Walker now, who has recently been critical of Israel.

      And this is utterly ridiculous:
      They need someone who has written books about these issues, especially a woman who has dealt with challenges like race and gender. The other thing is that it can’t be anyone, but someone who has been in news articles and has been known in academia, who some professors and students have heard of. It’s more important than an “invitation”. I’m sorry but if you can’t meet any of these criteria, you’re going to get disinvited. Big universities do dis-invitations everyday, and no one ever feels bad about that, especially not the person who got dis-invited.

      As Annie points out, Alice Walker meets all these qualifications and then some. According to the intermediary who notified Ms. Walker, she was disinvited solely because of pressure exerted because of her views on Israel. She is perhaps one of most well-known authors on race and gender issues in the US. Are you pulling our legs here, or are you that ill-informed?

    • American
      American
      August 18, 2013, 4:51 pm

      @ Jones

      well that comment…wth no backup for the asserations you made is a epic FAIL …are you losing your mind jonesie?
      please investigate where the money christo zio churches/relgous groups raise goes to—it doesnt go to politicians, that is prohibited by law…or to the state unv’s ….most of it goes directly to Israel under the guise of ‘charity causes’ (settlements) and expenses for ‘planing’ harebrain schemes like a chrstan religious disneyland in Israel.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 19, 2013, 12:31 am

        American,

        Spencer Ackerman, editor for the news service The Guardian US, laid it out. This is one of the main leftist news services that intellectuals can get educated from.

        Israel understood that there was a wide and politically powerful base of support that was just waiting to be cultivated: conservative evangelical Christians…

        This is why conspiratorial talk about the Israel Lobby seriously misses the point. The U.S. relationship with Israel… thrives because one of the most powerful constituencies in American politics, conservative Christians, identifies with Israel — and not with politicians who question it. You can see that, barometrically, in the GOP presidential debates, in which the candidates line up to outdo each other in vowing support for Israel and bashing Obama for his insufficient affection for Israel.

        http://www.attackerman.com/the-awful-geopolitical-viability-of-an-undemocratic-israel

        What you need to realize is that the “Christian Zionists” are holding the strings, and once you do, it is just a matter of connecting the dots. What do “Christian Zionists” have to do with a Women’s Center? Family Values and stopping abortion. Bingo.

        And you know what, maybe most of their big time donations go to the humanitarian projects you mentioned, but in this day and age every penny counts, and when those powerful “Christian Zionist” donors start pulling out of leftwing women’s centers, well-known colleges like the University of Michigan just can’t afford to host a presentation anymore. Who do you think is supposed to pay for the hors d’oeuvres and $40,000 powerpoint equipment used in the lecture? Tenured professors and the hundreds of alumni who graduated from the center over the last 50 years? Please.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 19, 2013, 12:34 am

        P.S. You may find it therapeutic to read the article and then thank the author for doing his part in the media to help open so many intolerant peoples’ skulls, or at least for wanting to. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_Ackerman#Firing_from_The_New_Republic).

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 20, 2013, 11:15 am

        I’m trying to give you some humor, brother.

    • just
      just
      August 18, 2013, 4:59 pm

      W.– Wanna make a bet that Ms. Walker would have spoken gratis? (not that she should!) Wanna make a bet that they could have held the event anywhere and she would have been gracious in any venue?

      Also wanna make a bet that she would need “protection” from the miscreants out there who might not like her for:

      a) her race
      b) her gender
      c) her outspoken humanitarian views wrt to Israel’s criminal treatment of the indigenous Palestinians and the growing Apartheid in that so- called “democracy”.
      d) anything else that irks bigots.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 19, 2013, 2:22 am

        You’re missing the point, Just

        It’s about pro-Israeli neoconservative donors like Mitt Romney funding women’s studies across the country. Once they and their bigtime allies, the “Christian Zionists”, pull out of a talk, the university can’t afford it.

        You think a university like Michigan is going to hurt Alice Walker’s feelings and invite her to speak without paying her? Plus, since it’s ‘celebratory’, there are many more costs- entrees, hor d’oeuvres, jelly shots, and screen projectors- that a school like University of Michigan just can’t afford.

        Anyway, what are you hinting at? I’m sure whoever takes Alice Walker’s place will feel really proud of herself, knowing that she is even more celebratory for women than Alice Walker. What an amazing speaker whom U.Michigan’s women’s center can look forward to. I couldn’t imagine any women turning down an invitation to speak in her place.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 20, 2013, 11:16 am

        Just trying to cheer you up with some satire.

  12. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    August 18, 2013, 6:04 pm

    I think W was responding with sarcasm to the University’s behaviour. I don’t think that big universities disinvite distinguished speakers every day and I don’t think that W thinks that they do.
    Barbara Harvey says that we fear that behind the scenes financial pressure was at work. It’s more than fear, I think.

  13. just
    just
    August 18, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Maybe they’ll invite Toni Morrison next year, after they clean up their act:

    “Toni Morrison was one of 18 FAMOUS WRITERS including 3 Nobel Laureates who in an Open Letter published worldwide in 2006 slammed Apartheid Israel’s Palestinian Genocide as “[Israel’s] long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation”:”
    https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/morrison

    Or perhaps Maya Angelou for honoring the murdered Rachel Corrie, may she rest in peace.

  14. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    August 19, 2013, 9:38 am

    There is no serious question about the stifling of free speech on this issue in academic settings. It’s not perfect, nor can it be without even more serious blowback. But on several of the university campuses I spoke at last year, professors thanked me for being so forthright about the issue in my talks because they said they generally couldn’t get away with such straightforward honesty about this issue. People with their names on buildings around campus had the power to make life pretty unpleasant for people who spoke too forthrightly, and provosts and presidents and whatnot tend to be very “go along to get along.”

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