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Columbia Prof.'s Remarks Spark Threats

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Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 00:30:57 -0700 (PDT)
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From: Rie Beam



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Columbia Prof.'s Remarks Spark Threats 
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By Ron Howell
Staff Writer

April 1, 2003, 5:53 PM EST

A Columbia University professor who called for a brutal defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq is under siege with angry e-mails and calls, including death threats, faculty members said.

They also bemoaned a more innocent victim of the comments made last week by Assistant Professor Nicholas De Genova. The campus anti-war movement.

"I'm afraid the consequences could be that they could silence us," Jean Cohen, a political science professor, said of those making the threats.

Cohen, an organizer of last week's teach-in where De Genova called for the killing of U.S. soldiers, said she and other organizers have received threats, even though they denounced De Genova's statements.

"It's frightening for me to get all these e-mails," Cohen said, adding that she was puzzled how De Genova could have called for "a million Mogadishus" -- a reference to the 1993 ambush and killing of 18 American soldiers in that Somali city.

"It ended up drowning out all the other voices and tarring the anti-war movement with being anti-American and anti-patriotic," she said.

Those who planned the teach-in, at which more than two dozen professors criticized the Bush administration's Iraq policy, had hoped to have a follow-up event in the near future, Cohen said.

"Now who knows? I don't know if the university would give us Low Library or if people would be nervous about doing it again ... because of the death threats," she said.

A spokesperson for Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger could not immediately be reached for comment. A person answering phones at the anthropology department where De Genova teaches said, "I don't know of his whereabouts."

In a letter published Monday in the Columbia Spectator daily student newspaper, De Genova elaborated on his controversial speech. He called this time for another Vietnam.

"Vietnam was a stunning defeat for U.S. imperialism; as such, it was also a victory for the cause of human self-determination," he wrote in a letter published in the newspaper.

Bollinger Friday said he was "shocked" by De Genova's speech at the teach-in. But his statement upset some.

His criticism "completely ignored the tenets of academic freedom that have been previously affirmed at this university again and again," said Leigh Johnson, 21, a senior and anthropology major.

Bollinger acknowledged he was breaking tradition by speaking out about De Genova, but he told Newsday Friday that the professor's comments had simply "crossed the line and I really feel a need to say something." 

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This article originally appeared at:
http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/manhattan/nyc-prof0402,0,1431551.story 

Visit Newsday online at http://www.newsday.com
Received on Thursday, 15 May 2003 03:31:00 GMT

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