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U of M SDS plans protest against war criminal Condoleezza Rice

Commentary by Chris Getowicz |
April 3, 2014
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Protest flyer
Protest flyer

Minneapolis, MN – The University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) are organizing an April 17 protest to coincide with a speech by Condoleezza Rice – a close aide of George Bush and a war criminal to boot.

Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will be speaking as the 2014 Distinguished Carlson Lecturer at the University of Minnesota. The Carlson Foundation, a private donor to the University of Minnesota, is fronting the $150,000 honorarium to host Rice. The university planned her speech, on the subject of civil rights, to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The University of Minnesota describes her speech as recognition towards “her effort to foster freedom and democracy.”

This invitation and “distinguished” lecture has disgusted students, staff, faculty and community members. The Twin Cites anti-war movement, heeding a call from SDS, will join a large rally to highlight Dr. Rice’s criminal conduct and to underscore the massive violations of human rights she was responsible for during the Bush administration.

The choice of Dr. Rice to speak on civil rights or “freedom and democracy” is outrageous. In fact, her crimes stand in direct opposition to the great contributions made by leaders of the civil rights movement like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King had no problem connecting poverty, racism and injustice at home with the imperialist war in Vietnam. Dr. King noted that “every time we kill one [Vietnamese] we spend about $500,000 while we spend only $53 a year for every person characterized as poverty-stricken in the so-called poverty program.” For Dr. King and other civil rights leaders, the war was a disgrace that “played havoc with our domestic destinies” and put the U.S. “in a position of appearing to the world as an arrogant nation.”

Recall that under Rice’s leadership as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, the U.S. openly committed well-documented and widespread crimes against humanity. These crimes included but are not limited to an illegal invasion of Iraq on pretenses of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ - which were never found. The years of occupation that followed the invasion of Iraq left, by conservative estimates, over half of a million people dead. This invasion and occupation was accompanied by widespread use of terror, in the systematic torture of prisoners as documented at Abu Ghraib and the long-standing torture prison known as Guantanamo Bay.

While this torture was documented, much more remains less documented. White House reports have long cited legal memos dispersed by Rice not only tolerating torture but suggesting that the Geneva Convention does not apply to the U.S. while engaged in its terroristic war, ‘The War on Terror.’

It is with these facts and with many others that Students for a Democratic Society and other student and anti-war groups will rally against Rice’s visit to the University of Minnesota. While administrators of the university have said that their invitation of Dr. Rice was on the grounds of “freedom of speech,” her “free speech” should be seen as nothing more than promoting the annihilation of sovereign countries via barbaric means of torture and criminal activity.

Like students and staff at Stanford, and most recently at Rutgers, Dr. Rice will be greeted upon her arrival with a reminder that her mark of distinction is that of a war criminal. In the name of the millions of Iraqis who saw their country ripped apart by the U.S. invasion – overseen in part by Condoleezza Rice, we urge you to join us at this protest. And in the names of thousands of young Americans sent to war only to return home without jobs, without proper healthcare – and the many who never returned at all - join SDS on April 17 at 4:00 p.m. at the University of Minnesota to condemn war criminals speaking on our campus.