Yesterday, the CMC Forum published an article by Adam Griffith CMC ’14 concerning plans to unwelcome Condoleezza Rice. The inflammatory, myopic article made sweeping generalizations about those involved in the protest, as well as misconstrued the intent of the peaceful teach-in.
Griffith’s article “Occupy Athenaeum” opens with a jab at Occupy Claremont, a noble effort to spread awareness of income inequality, among other things, by referring to Occupy Claremont as “a name that was the punch line to a joke long before it was an actual club.” In just the first paragraph, the author compares the work of motivated students bringing awareness to the disgusting wealth inequality in America to a joke. Furthermore, the author errs by stating the protest is organized “in part by the club Occupy Claremont.” We encourage the author to not to make fallacious statements in his writing, particularly when trying to diminish the noble work of a group by associating it with another movement. At root, “the relationship between the teach-ins and Occupy is that there is cross pollination between the two,” says organizer Vincent Giannotti PZ ’12. Some familiar faces, entirely autonomous movements.
Next, the article states that the motivations for the protest are that “Namely: Condoleezza Rice…is evil and CMC has nothing to learn from her.” This gross simplification of the student activist’s motivations fails to mention the purpose of the teach-in, which is to inform and stimulate discussion. If the teach-in organizers believed what Griffith says they do, the event would not be structured to educate. Anyone who attended the planning meetings for “Unwelcoming Condoleezza Rice” can testify to their explicit focus on education, not provocation. Griffith paints the activists as simple minded, and in doing so displays his condescending view of those seeking to educate.
Griffith charges on to defend CMC for hosting Rice by claiming there is some sort of educational benefit to attending her lecture. As the panel of Professor Segal and Professor Herrera, both of Pitzer College, noted, an educational opportunity could be constructed if the event were a round-table discussion with professors, students, and foreign-policy experts, but it unfortunately is not. I, for one, do not believe Rice should be paid an egregious amount to give a talk, which has a format conflicting with that of an educational talk. Griffith then makes a reference to Joe Biden’s hilarious gaffes, but seems to forget the master of idiotic, non-sensical statements: Rice’s former boss, President Bush.
The notion that the teach-ins are weakened in educational quality because anyone can lead a teach-in is inane. Inclusive dialogue is far more conducive to learning than a rigid lecture with limited involvement, and I challenge any attendee to stop by a teach-in, which will be offered before and after her lecture. The teach-ins seek to provide an empirically grounded counter-point and bring her crimes against humanity to light. The structure of the teach-in emphasizes peaceful means of gathering and informing, even featuring Vice President of Student Affairs of Pitzer College Jim Marchant speaking on 5C protest policy to ensure compliance.
Why should students, faculty, staff, and community members help to unwelcome Condoleezza Rice? Her instrumental role in authorizing a global torture regime, her utter disregard for international law, and her mendacious statements used to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi fathers, wives, sons, and daughters serve as ample reasons to attend.
“The Bush Doctrine, which Condoleezza was instrumental in crafting, is a doctrine of preventive war, and preventive war is a violation of international law,” says Pitzer College professor of Political Studies, Dana Ward, who will be hosting a teach-in at the event.
Also hosting a teach-in will be Pitzer College Professor of Anthropology Dan Segal, who stated, “As National Security Advisor, she [Rice] played a central role, with Colin Powell, in conveying and accrediting false ‘intelligence’ to the US and global publics, to gain support for the war in Iraq.” Segal will speak critically of Rice at the event “because I love both democracy and humanity.”
Furthermore, Rice has failed as a public-servant, operating sans respect for the rule of law or humanity. And, as noted during the panel discussion, prominent members from previous administrations often stumble into jobs in current administrations (see Larry Summers, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney), and we should not allow Rice to “fail-up” into a new post. By informing the public of her crimes and unethical actions committed in our name, her chance of stumbling into a new administration will be lessened. Furthermore, we cannot allow the establishment of a new presidential precedent: one of being able to violate international law without any public rebuke or consequence.
Griffith’s condescending tone and his blind and biased disdain for Pitzer activists, whom he sarcastically refers to as “masterminds,” serves as further motivation for all to make this event educational and successful. His article, based on an incredibly limited experience with those he writes about, sarcastically and wrongly discards the thought put into the event, which has 130+ people committed to attend on Facebook.
Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to participate in the inclusive teach-ins. Stop by, it is sure to be educational.
UPDATE: At 2:30 pm, CMC VP for Student Affairs Jeff Huang emailed CMC students informing them that the venue for Rice’s talk has been changed to Ducey Gym. “A demonstration zone has been designated on the outdoor basketball courts,” Huang wrote. Huang cited uncertainties about non-Claremont protesters, writing, “Those individuals, whose numbers we cannot accurately estimate and whose intentions are unclear, may not care to abide by CMC’s rules or the rally organizers’ plans for a peaceful event.”
Editor’s note: For more coverage of Rice’s visit to Claremont, see our investigation into 5C pepper spray policy, background on the planned protest, and a reflection on the benefits of peaceful demonstration. Check back tomorrow for updates on the Ath talk and teach-ins.