On the anniversary of September 11, students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign joined with Americans across the country in holding an observance of the tragedy that rocked our nation 9 years ago. It was at this event that some students crossed the line, according to a letter to the editor submitted by a university administrator and published in the student paper last week. What was their offense? They dared to show pride in their country.
Administrator David Green’s letter reads exactly like the shrill, anti-American prose we’ve come to expect from some members of academia:
The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.
The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.
The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.
Mr. Green’s tirade is like a cornucopia of just about every liberal screed imaginable. America as imperialists? Yep. Ignorantly slamming our military’s demographics? Of course. Blood for oil? You betcha.
The irony of course is that it is Mr. Green that is politicizing the event, not these students. Not to mention the irony of calling for tolerance while blasting your colleague’s patriotism as “fake” and suggesting that American Muslim students are somehow less patriotic than their peers.
Elsewhere in the University of Illinois system, word came yesterday that retired University of Illinois at Chicago professor Bill Ayers was denied “emeritus” status in a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. This after Board Chairman Christopher Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, protested granting the title to a man who dedicated one of his books, in part, to his father’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan. After playing host to a well-known terrorist like Bill Ayers and an administrator offended by displays of patriotism, it is understandable why so many Americans view academia as out-of-touch and fear for their children’s taxpayer-funded education.