Dear President Bollinger, We are asking you to step forward as leader of the University to condemn the hateful speech and discriminatory stereotyping allegedly used by the ROTC personnel last weekend in their maneuvers in New Jersey in which Columbia students were involved. A front page article in Spectator on Tuesday, April 19, reported how ROTC fought "Spanish-speaking, Islamic fundamentalists from the Caucasus" and what a lark that was—not to mention the piquant detail of the "Muslim" who demanded a new wife and 10 camels. Awfully funny, except that there is a real war going on for many a year with many soldiers and civilians maimed and killed. Awfully funny, except that this legitimates everyday racism and mocks the principles by which we teach and on which the University as a moral entity rests. You have defended Columbia's antidiscrimination policy in the past, and we call on you to do so again. As anthropologists we feel especially put out by this language and its locker-room tone. We worry about what effect this rhetoric will have on Muslim and Spanish-speaking students and faculty, as well as on other minorities and international students. Who will be the next "enemy?" Is not Columbia a "global university?" How can we claim leadership in the global sphere while permitting our students to humiliate and revile entire classes of people, at a time when racial profiling and criminalization of undocumented migrants has reached alarming levels? We ask that you hold good on your promise that no organization be permitted to operate at Columbia if it violates the University's antidiscrimination policy. Sincerely, Members of the department of anthropology April 28, 2011 This letter was signed by Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lila Abu-Lughod, Brian Boyd, Partha Chatterjee, Myron Cohen, Elaine Combs-Schilling, Zoe Crossland, Terence D'Altroy, E. Valentine Daniel, Catherine Fennell, Severin Fowles, Alexandra Harnett, Marilyn Ivy, Paul Kockelman, Brian Larkin, Claudio Lomnitz, Mahmood Mamdani, Brinkley Messick, Rosalind Morris, Richard Parker, John Pemberton, Elisabeth Povinelli, Nan Rothschild, David Scott, Audra Simpson, Michael Taussig, Carole Vance, and Paige West.
Columbia Spectator Staff