Trending Topics:

U of Michigan rescinds invitation to Alice Walker after donors pulled funds because of her Israel views

Israel/Palestine
on 31 Comments

I always say, Follow the money, and Alice Walker agrees. She says she was disinvited from giving a speech at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women on its 50th anniversary because of the center’s funding concerns over her views on Israel.

In a posting on her blog, titled “In Case You’ve Ever Wondered How It’s Done: Censorship by Purse String,” Walker quoted an email from an “agent,” evidently an intermediary between herself and the university, informing her that the women’s center rescinded the invitation out of donor concerns:

I’m saddened to write this because I’m a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with. This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker’s comments regarding Israel. They are not willing to fund this program and the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own. They are deeply regretful but I wanted to let you know immediately either way. I hope you can appreciate the fact that I’m uncomfortable even having to send this email in the first place. Hopefully we can work together again down the road. Thanks for understanding. I wish things had turned out differently.

The Daily News and the Anti-Defamation League had smeared Walker as an anti-Semite because her last book, The Cushion in the Road, contained extensive criticisms of Israel.

Gloria Thomas, the director of the women’s center at Michigan, promptly posted an explanation denying that money had anything to do with it. “Questions Regarding Our Speaker Invitation to Alice Walker”:

I want to apologize for how we handled our invitation to author Alice Walker to speak at the Center for the Education of Women.

Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event. 

Donors had no bearing on this decision. Our 50th anniversary funding is completely assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech.

As we move forward, I do hope that we will be able to co-sponsor a lecture by Ms. Walker, where the forum would be focused on a more substantial discussion of human rights issues. 

Walker wrote at her site in a forgiving and feminist manner about donor issues:

I so appreciate the tone of the agent’s letter, alerting my assistant and me to this situation. It isn’t hard to imagine how he feels, having been so enthusiastic about getting me to come to help the women celebrate a major milestone in their many struggles for education and equality. But there is a bright side: Such behavior, as evidenced by the donors, teaches us our weakness, which should eventually (and soon) show us our strength: women must be in control of our own finances. Not just in the family, but in the schools, work force, and everywhere else. Until we control this part of our lives, our very choices, in any and every area, can be denied us….

If you should read this, people of the invitation, know I send you my love, and my understanding, without reservation. I thought you were brave to invite me, and I cherish you for that. Whatever the truth is, that is what will always be. It cannot be hidden forever, nor can it be kept from even the smallest child, indefinitely.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

31 Responses

  1. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    August 16, 2013, 11:15 am

    “Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event”

    Yeah right, what “further research”? Liar.

    And what “further research” made her taking a stance against her? They first invite her and then suddenly, no you are not welcome. What was it that they allegedly found out in their “research” about her?

    How can a well known and critically acclaimed feminist NOT be suitable for this event? No it had EVERYTHING to do with the donors!

    Shame on University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women!

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 17, 2013, 6:23 am

      Reminds me of how McCain & Grahm were shouting to cut aid to Egypt, then suddenly they saw the AIPAC light.

    • piotr
      piotr
      August 17, 2013, 7:08 am

      I guess they can invite Caroline Glick. In the quest for the “optimum”, who can be better? “Bad Rachel” Elliot?

  2. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 16, 2013, 11:29 am

    RE: “I always say, Follow the money, and Alice Walker agrees. She says she was disinvited from giving a speech at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women on its 50th anniversary because of the center’s funding concerns over her views on Israel.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: This is yet another reason I fear that Revisionist Zionism and Likudnik Israel (specifically by virtue of their inordinate sway over the U.S.) might very well be an “existential threat” to the values of The Enlightenment [like the “right of free speech” and the “freedom of association”]! ! !
    “Down, down, down we [the U.S.] go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.”

    P.S. OTHER EXAMPLES OF ISRAEL’S VALUES TRUMPING (OVERRIDING) THE VALUES OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT – http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/markets-propaganda-waughs.html#comment-566771

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 16, 2013, 11:32 am

    “Whatever the truth is, that is what will always be. It cannot be hidden forever, nor can it be kept from even the smallest child, indefinitely.”

    Zionism is just another form of abuse. Well funded, but so are many abusers.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 16, 2013, 11:34 am

    ● RE: “I always say, Follow the money, and Alice Walker agrees. She says she was disinvited from giving a speech at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women on its 50th anniversary because of the center’s funding concerns over her views on Israel.” ~ Weiss

    ● FOLLOW THE MONEY, INDEED (FROM MAPLIGHT.ORG):

    Pro-Israel contributions

    • Top Senate Recipients Funded

    Recipient | Amount
    Mark Kirk $925,379
    John McCain $771,012
    Mitch McConnell $430,925
    Carl Levin $346,478
    Robert Menéndez $344,670
    Richard Durbin $327,212
    Kirsten Gillibrand $326,937
    Mary Landrieu $296,409
    Benjamin Cardin $267,542
    Harry Reid $261,708
    Bill Nelson $259,250
    Charles Schumer $248,149
    Timothy Kaine $245,820
    Barbara Boxer $245,179
    Ron Wyden $222,431
    Sherrod Brown $221,891
    Claire McCaskill $214,271
    Robert Casey $192,550
    [CONTINUED AD NAUSEAM]

    SOURCE – http://maplight.org/us-congress/interest/J5100/view/all

    ● A HIGHLY RELEVANT QUOTATION:
    “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.” ~ Mark Twain (Meaning that one’s opinions can be told based on where that person got their bread.)
    SOURCE – http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/cornponetwain.htmhttp://english414fall2011.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/corn-pone-opinions/

    ● ANOTHER HIGHLY RELEVANT QUOTATION:
    “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” ~ From ‘The Education of Henry Adams’, By Henry Brooks Adams, 1838-1918 (American journalist-historian-academic-novelist; grandson of President John Quincy Adams; great-grandson of President John Adams)
    The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams – http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2044
    The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (Google eBook) – http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Education_of_Henry_Adams.html?id=-ThaAAAAMAAJ

    ● ONE LAST HIGHLY RELEVANT QUOTATION:
    “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” ~ Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh (in 1966), Speaker of the California Assembly from 1961 to 1968

  5. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    August 16, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Jimmy Carter, Alice Walker, many academics, a few musicians and actors, a very few politicians — how many must “die” under the guns of our free-enterprise, big-money-rules system?

    Can they all band together and make a single (one hopes an influential) BLOG expressing their experiences (of censorship) and also their VIEWS/OPINIONS about the USA / Israel long-continuing trashing of international humanitarian law?

  6. Krauss
    Krauss
    August 16, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Sad.
    It’s often said, and it’s true, that if Apartheid South Africa had the same prescence in the political/academic fundraising class, it might still have gone on today.

    But fundamentally, this is a grassroots vs elite issue. In the short run it’s obvious who wins but in the long run, monied elites who support a racist cause tend to lose.
    You see the same pattern with the social conservative billionaires who throw money on regressive causes, in the long term they lose.

    Still sad to see how craven academia has become. Being a university dean today is little about intellectual achievement and all about how good you are at fundraising.

  7. mondonut
    mondonut
    August 16, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Among the many things that Alice Walker is wrong about, add her understanding of censorship and free speech. Neither was infringed, she is free to say what she wants.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      August 16, 2013, 1:20 pm

      A Zionist troll has no credibility when it comes to a discussion on freedom of speech.

      You’re certainly ‘free’ to talk about it though.

      Alice Walker is not wrong on anything re: Israel.

      You propagandists and colonists are.

      Walker was disinvited due to pressure from the organized Jewish community and perhaps their Christian Zionist allies. Absolutely NO ONE ELSE would give a crap about her views on Israel.

      So she was censored. Even prisoners in a Soviet gulag could be ‘free to say’ what they want.

      But they aren’t saying it in the context that matters.

      Likewise, Alice Walker can say what she wants on her blog. She apparently can’t do so at U. Of Michigan though re: a topic that has nothing to do explicitly with Israel.

      Hence, Zionist Jews put pressure on the organizers. Hence, she was censored.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        August 16, 2013, 11:53 pm

        Cliff says:A Zionist troll has no credibility when it comes to a discussion on freedom of speech.
        =========================================
        Wow. Your understanding of censorship is even weaker than her’s, which a saying a lot.

      • ziusudra
        ziusudra
        August 17, 2013, 3:49 am

        Re.: mondonut,
        Apropo understanding.
        Why would you call yourself a ‘world nut’?
        ziusudra

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      August 16, 2013, 2:23 pm

      Except she is not free to speak at a university, and has been censored because of her support for human rights. Y’know – a university, those institutions which once upon a time valued and promoted such principles. A university in a country which supposedly values ‘freedom’ above all, but turns out to be beholden to a tiny little militarised state which is threatened by free speech. Perhaps you should try a little education yourself.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      August 17, 2013, 1:52 am

      She is not free to say what she wants at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women on its 50th anniversary.

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    August 16, 2013, 3:16 pm

    Walker basically gives the invitees a whack at the end. “It can not be hidden forever” Walker enters the list of human rights activist who have been uninvited via pressure. What a great list of individuals..Archbishop Tutu, former President Carter (I believe), Finkelstein.

    Hope all contact Univ of Michigan and add our two cents

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      August 18, 2013, 1:56 am

      why is this comment still being held “awaiting moderation?” Really?

      • annie
        annie
        August 19, 2013, 10:02 am

        because no one was around kathleen.

  9. ritzl
    ritzl
    August 16, 2013, 4:27 pm

    With a response to an abrupt dis-invitation like that, Walker shows herself to be exactly the person the UMich Center for the Education of Women invited in the first place. And SO much more.

    What grace and inspiration to women (and men) everywhere. I could never have responded like that. What an exemplary human being, Ms. Walker is.

    If the “agent” isn’t just sh*tting their pants after reading that, over the missed opportunity for a brush with greatness, s/he should probably resign. I’d like to hear the explanation at the conference as the ptb explain Ms. Walker’s absence.

    Having said all this, this is just another example of how enduring value (of the experience for the conference goers) and rare opportunity are traded and/or thrown away solely for some marginal and fleeting benefit for Israel. And a parochial, perceived-only benefit at that.

    The attendees have been diminished. Israel gains nothing. Such is the calculus at this point. Sad. Maybe some people somewhere will start to realize how sad it really is [and stop doing this kind of stuff…].

  10. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    August 16, 2013, 4:27 pm

    It looks like it wasn’t just funding, but also emotional blackmail. It is not unreasonable to assume that that the director of the Women’s Center got the full range of Zionist pressure tactics — including sob-stories from Zionist feminists about how Alice Walker’s criticism of Israel makes them feel bad and how making a portion of the school’s women students feel bad (because all Jewish and Evangelical Christian women on campus can be expected to feel similarly to the Zionist feminists) is divisive and divisive feelings will bring too much negativity to a day that is all about celebration. Besides, if the women’s center decides to bring Alice Walker anyway, Zionist groups will dis her in the campus media beforehand and picket or disrupt the event, taking the focus away from the women’s center celebration and making it all about Israel/Palestine. At least that’s my reading of the subtext:

    Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event.

    As we move forward, I do hope that we will be able to co-sponsor a lecture by Ms. Walker, where the forum would be focused on a more substantial discussion of human rights issues.

  11. just
    just
    August 16, 2013, 6:26 pm

    Shame on U. of Michigan, Gloria Thomas and any other fool who caved to these lie- mongers.

    Too bad for all the students/alumni/citizens who have missed the opportunity to engage with one of America’s most talented authors of all time.

    (I guess that the wealthy donors don’t much care for brilliance or free speech, but would much rather sponsor Apartheid Israel)

    C’est la vie a la Zionist supporters. Perhaps they feel they have won, but it is another crack in the wall. It’s a lose for humanity.

  12. OlegR
    OlegR
    August 16, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Oh dear me, did she just had a taste of her own medicine ?

  13. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough
    August 17, 2013, 1:35 am

    I would love to know what her ‘further research’ turned up.

    That she isn’t feminist enough?
    Not well known to the public?
    Not published anything worth noting?

    In the end, who ended up being the ‘Optimum Choice’ ? Anyone know?

  14. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    August 17, 2013, 12:37 pm

    “the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own.”

    The prestigious University of Michigan does not have the money to finance an anniversary celebration, which most likely consists of a dinner and Walker’s talk?

  15. August 17, 2013, 4:15 pm

    God bless phil weiss!

  16. August 17, 2013, 4:25 pm

    tell me. my good, faithful mondoweiss readers. i would love to call my US senator(well at least that’s what he was designated on the ballot box but we all know who they really represent) and complain to him about his support of israel and his taking of all the corrupt AIPAC money but i don’t know how to go about it. could you tell me what i should say?
    i’m long past writing complaining posts, i want to try to do something substantial!
    this would be my little two cents but at least i can feel i did something instead of just typing words

    • annie
      annie
      August 19, 2013, 10:06 am

      i’m long past writing complaining posts, i want to try to do something substantial!

      you could defecate in a box and have it delivered to your senator.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        August 20, 2013, 5:41 pm

        Or just put a group together to go spend time with your Rep in D.C. and talk to them about this issue. Or make an appointment with your group for when your Rep comes to your home state. Have done both many times. Worth it

  17. hophmi
    hophmi
    August 19, 2013, 12:17 pm

    So, Alice Walker is reporting what an intermediary claims the a women’s group told her in the name of the University of Michigan.

    That’s like third-degree hearsay. Journalists might simply call UMich and, you know, ask.

    Or, it is possible that Walker is lying or misinformed, since the person who would know denies what she says:

    “Donors had no bearing on this decision. Our 50th anniversary funding is completely assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech.”

    “DONORS HAD NO BEARING ON THIS DECISION.”

    • annie
      annie
      August 19, 2013, 12:40 pm

      So, Alice Walker is reporting what an intermediary claims the a women’s group told her in the name of the University of Michigan.

      it wasn’t just what any intermediary, it was the very agent who was the intermediary the U of M used to book her in the first place:

      http://alicewalkersgarden.com/2013/08/why-women-need-their-own-money/

      I so appreciate the tone of the agent’s letter, alerting my assistant and me to this situation. It isn’t hard to imagine how he feels, having been so enthusiastic about getting me to come to help the women celebrate a major milestone

      iow, it was the contact the U of M used to book her, so it makes sense it would be the same contact they used to unbook her.

      so it is not that unlikely that the woman’s center had some lessor employee do the dirty deed, who might have spilled too many beans in the telling, but i don’t think it’s very likely the agent just fabricated this story out of thin air.

      Or, it is possible that Walker is lying or misinformed, since the person who would know denies what she says:

      not really, perhaps didn’t you read her words carefully enough?

      I want to apologize for how we handled our invitation to author Alice Walker to speak at the Center for the Education of Women.

      Upon further research, I decided to withdraw

      there’s no denial of what was said. iow, she’s apologizing for how we handled, (‘we’ being the center) so who handled? not necessarily her. while she was the one who made the decision, she probably wasn’t the one who personally was in contact with the agent. so while it’s very likely she never said that personally, it doesn’t mean someone else didn’t spill too many beans.

      but to suggest walker is lying? nothing is beneath you is it.

      and there’s nothing in ms thomas’s statement denying the statement was made to walker’s agent. the only denial is how, allegedly, the center operates.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        August 20, 2013, 5:43 pm

        I loved how Walker had said the truth would eventually come out. Just a matter of time. The time was short

Leave a Reply