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Columbia Professor Calls for "a Million Mogadishus"
By RON HOWELL
In Apr. 2002, at a pro-Palestinian rally at Columbia, De Genova said: "The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The state of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust."
Newsday, Mar. 27, 2003
"At an anti-war 'teach-in' this week, a Columbia University professor called for the defeat of American forces in Iraq and said he would like to see 'a million Mogadishus' - a reference to the Somali city where American soldiers were ambushed, with 18 killed, in 1993. 'The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,' Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University told the audience at Low Library Wednesday night. 'I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.' The crowd was largely silent at the remark. They loudly applauded De Genova later when he said, 'If we really believe that this war is criminal . . . then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine.' "
"At least two of the speakers who followed De Genova distanced themselves from his comments. One of them was teach-in organizer Eric Foner, a history professor, who disagreed with De Genova's assertion that Americans who called themselves 'patriots' also were white supremacists. In a telephone interview Thursday, Foner went further in his criticism, calling De Genova's statements 'idiotic.' 'I thought that was completely uncalled for,' Foner said, referring to De Genova's allusion to the Mogadishu ambush and firefight, portrayed in the film 'Black Hawk Down' and known for the graphic image of a slain American soldier being dragged through the streets. 'We do not desire the deaths of American soldiers.' "
"Foner said that because of the university's tradition of freedom of speech, it was unlikely De Genova would suffer professionally in any way because of what he said. 'A person's politics have no impact on their employment status here, whether they are promoted, whether they are fired or whether they get tenure,' Foner said. Foner said he did not know whether De Genova had tenure. De Genova was not available Thursday for an interview. More than 3,000 students and faculty attended the Wednesday teach-in, which lasted from 6 p.m. until about midnight, and featured more than two dozen professors and other scholars."
"The applause at De Genova's call for the defeat of U.S.-led forces in Iraq reflected widespread frustration at the inability to reverse President George W. Bush's Middle East policies, Foner said. 'A kind of flamboyant statement like that will get an applause in the heat of the moment,' the history professor said. By turns, the speakers Wednesday night said the Bush administration's actions in Iraq were bullying, illegal, deceitful, corrupt and murderous. Some argued that Bush administration officials had ties to companies that stand to profit from the war. Using a reference to Nazi Germany, a history professor, Barbara J. Fields, said like-minded Americans should vigorously oppose Bush. 'The 'good Germans' of the Nazi era were the few who said, 'No,' ' Fields declared."