Stop the Harassment against the Protesters of the Minutemen at Columbia sign now

Stop the Harassment against the Protesters of the Minutemen at Columbia

No human being is illegal. The Minutemen, an anti- immigrant vigilante group, had no intention of engaging in serious academic debate when speaking at an event hosted by the Columbia University Young Republican Club. The group's platform of normalizing racism and taking up arms to preserve white supremacy is a dark path that the world has seen before. Images of night riding Klansmen and Nazi storm troopers comes to mind.

When students dare to take action against groups such as the Minutemen and remain unapologetic in the face of administrative threats and right-wing media campaigns, they must be defended and their voice must be supported.

On the night of October 4th, students unfurled a banner that read: "No one is ever illegal," in both Arabic and English, on stage during a speech by Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist at Columbia's Roone Auditorium. The moral clarity embodied in this simple act of resistance is urgently needed on college campuses across the country. What would it have meant if Columbia's student body remained silent as the founder of an armed vigilante group spoke at their school?

Following the protest and cancellation of the event, the media has gone on a rampage to vilify and grossly distort the protests while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly criticized Columbia University's President Lee Bollinger for not moving fast enough in reprimanding the Minutemen protesters.

The terms of debate surrounding the Minuteman protests at Columbia University are utterly intolerable and need to be dramatically altered. It is an alarming and disturbing sign of the times when the press labels a racist armed vigilante group that operates in the public eye as merely "controversial". When speaking about Latino immigrants, Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox once said, "They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughter and they are evil people." As debate rages over the Minuteman's speech, it must be acknowledged that the Minutemen speak through guns and through actions fueled by bigotry and intolerance. Ask the Minutemen if they are interested in an open debate with the human beings they ruthlessly hunt on the border.

The discourse and debate over the Minuteman protest has been completely abstracted from the context of a country currently undergoing radical changes in governing laws and norms that date back to the very foundation of this country. It cannot be ignored or denied that the Minuteman's appearance comes at a time when the Bush administration is rounding up thousands of immigrants, is moving ahead with the unprecedented legalization of torture and shredding the basic right of due process. It would be out of step with reality to discuss the Minutemen disconnected from the fascistic direction the United States is moving under the Bush administration.

The attacks and possible disciplinary action directed at the student protesters by Columbia University are part of an increasingly repressive atmosphere that is aiming to rid American universities of critical thought and dissent. From the professors who have come under fire for expressing progressive or oppositional views, to the Bush administration's attacks on objective scholarship when it challenges its aims - this must be brought to a halt.

We demand that the students under investigation for protesting Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist face no threats of expulsion or any disciplinary actions!

The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime!

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Leah HermanBy:
SustainabilityIn:
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Columbia University

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