Tag Archives: ASA

American Studies Association Celebrated Terrorism, Mocked 9/11



The American Studies Associated has come up on the radar with their racist boycott of Israel. But it was unsurprising considering how radicalized the ASA had become. And the ASA’s domestic extremism raises questions about why it should receive any taxpayer funding at all.

A sample of the ASA’s extremism can be gleaned from its annual meeting in Puerto Rico last year. A meeting in Puerto Rico would seem innocuous, but a radical organization transmutes everything into extremism. And so we ended up with the ASA’s “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance”.

The Empire referred to the United States. “Submissions reflected a concern with thinking deeply about the conceptual and methodological demands of a truly transnational American Studies,” so the program was described.

What is a transnational American Studies? An Anti-American Studies. “The very location of this year’s conference is a powerful call for reflection—reflection on indigeneity and dispossession; reflection on the course of U.S. empire; reflection on rich histories of resistance,” the president of the American Studies Association wrote. “Puerto Rico is “foreign in a domestic sense”—marked the islands as the site of the United States’ most unabashed imperialist manipulations.”

By resistance, the ASA meant a clear and explicit endorsement of Puerto Rican terrorist groups.

In keeping with this move to examine the transnational, panelists also examined the local and transnational specificities of Puerto Rican history and culture, such as Caucus: Critical Prison Studies: Prisoners of Empire: Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Resisting U.S. Colonialism which investigates the prison as a tool of colonial domination;

The event features Jan Susler, a radical left-wing Chicago lawyer who is involved in defending Puerto Rican independence terrorists. Here’s a sample of Susler’s rhetoric…

When the colonizers repressed and criminalized public organizing for independence, clandestine organizations formed, including the Popular Boricua Army — Macheteros in the 1980s.  In 1985, the FBI arrested and almost killed its leader, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, accusing him of participation in the 1983 expropriation of $7.5 million U.S. government insured dollars from a Wells Fargo depot in Hartford, Connecticut.  After his release on bail, Ojeda returned to clandestine existence.  In spite of the FBI’s ever-increasing reward for information leading to his capture, he remained underground for some fifteen years. On September 23, 2005, however, a squad of FBI assassins circled his home, shot him, and left him to bleed to death.

Rios was a cop-killer who shot and wounded several Federal agents attempting to arrest him. Despite this the FBI took him alive the first time around. The second time around he wasn’t that lucky.

Susler refers to bank robbery as “expropriation”  which tells you everything you need to know about her and about the ASA.

Here’s the topic of the American Studies Association’s Presidential Address…

Presidential Address: Where We Stand: U.S. Empire at Street Level

Nearly twenty years have passed since the publication of Cultures of United States Imperialism, the landmark volume edited by Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease. That collection served as the state-of-the-field brief on methodologies and orientations within American Studies for many years, and of-the-field brief on methodologies and orientations within American Studies for many years, and proved a highly generative call for work that would set imperialism at the center of the field and its formulations. In the intervening years, however, U.S. Imperialism itself has not exactly sat still while these scholars have toiled: military interventions in this period include massive wars and smaller-scale landings and strikes from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Haiti, Bosnia, Yemen, Rwanda, and Libya

This is the sort of streetcorner Neo-Marxist radicalism that passes for the presidential address in the American Studies Association. It boasts that “American Imperialism” has been set at the center of American Studies.

That raises serious questions about the troubled state of the field of American Studies.

But if you still haven’t had enough, then there was “celebrated Puerto Rican poet and writer Giannina Braschi” who read “from her recent
work, including The United States of Banana and Empire of Dreams.”

The United States of Banana begins by mocking the attacks of September 11 in the most gruesome way possible by featuring a businessman falling from the sky.

“It’s the end of the world. I was excited by the whole situation,” Giannina Braschi’s anti-American novel begins. “No more fear of being fired—for typos or tardiness—digressions or recessions—and what a way of being fired—bursting into flames—without two weeks notice.”

“This businessman on the ground was clutching a briefcase in his hand– and on his finger, the wedding band. I suppose he thought his briefcase was his life– or his wife– or that both were one because the briefcase was as tight as the wedding band.”

Then the novel transitions to “join the author’s alter-ego Giannina on a quest to liberate the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from the dungeon of the Statue of Liberty where he has been sentenced by his father, the King of the United States of Banana, more than 100 years prior for the crime of having been born. But when the king remarries, he frees his son, and for the sake of reconciliation, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens.”

Giannina Braschi writes further about September 11. “Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is religion.”

“The suicide-bomber kills the anonymity of the crowd. Nobodies suddenly become somebodies with names, nationalities, stories, and faces. The crowd has an individual rage that is awakened when its collectivity is attacked. It’s the fear that it could happen to you—or to me—or to any one of us anytime the crowd gathers. The government worries that the roll call of the death toll will storm the polls and overturn elections and cars, businesses and samenesses. When the government proclaims war against terrorism it is proclaiming war against the awakening of the masses.

“It doesn’t matter how often I hear: religion, religion, religion. I know deep in my heart that it is not about religion. It is about the battle of matter and spirit—the battle of the oppressed that are dispossessed—and want to possess—because they feel possessed. And they are possessed of spirit. It is the call of the oppressed to be possessed by something higher than material dispossession. After all the schisms of isms—after capitalism, socialism, marxism, communism, feminism—after separation of church and state—it is an anachronism to call it a religious
crusade when it is a global conflict between the ones who have too much and the ones who have too little, too little to lose.”

“Success can be measured by numbers—and not just by the number of dead and wounded—but by the number of spectators around the world who witnessed the fall of the American Empire on TV.”


The American Studies Association’s Badge of Shame


Boycott_Jews_april_1_1933The American Studies Association (ASA) voted this week for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The action taken by the ASA is nothing less than a badge of shame. The ostensible reason given was “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge the freedom for all, including Palestinians.” The truth is, however, that the ASA has never targeted any other country for a boycott.  Israel, a democracy that protects the civil liberties and religious freedoms of its minorities, while protecting its citizens from constant Palestinian terrorism, is the ASA’s sole target. While measures such as checkpoints are used by Israel to protect its citizens from Palestinian suicide bombers, one can hardly regard them as a form of injustice.  Palestinian students might arrive late to class on occasion but the measures do not impede their studies or academic freedom.


The ASA is alleged to have 5,000 members, and the association has described itself as the “nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.” In the vote to endorse the boycott, 1,252 members voted. Of those, 66% voted for the boycott, 30.5% voted against. Following the vote, the ASA announced, “We believe that the ASA endorsement of the boycott is warranted, given U.S. military and other support for Israel. Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many of the ASA…”

Abe Foxman, Anti-Defamation League national director responded to the ASA boycott with the following statement: “This shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom by the American Studies Association should be soundly condemned by all who are committed to the ideal that open exchange of ideas is the most effective way to achieve change. Targeting Israeli institutions solely because they are in Israel – the only democratic country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are encouraged and flourish – is based on myopic and fundamentally distorted perspective of Israel and the conflict, and it is manifestly unjust.”


The arbitrary focus on Israel by the ASA, while ignoring the Muslim world where women and religious minority rights are routinely violated, reveals a clear prejudice on the part of the ASA. The ASA’s own words suggest an ideological bias in declaring, “Given U.S. military and other support for Israel,” as if the U.S. does not give military and financial aid to other countries, including the Palestinian Authority. U.S. aid to the Palestinians hasn’t curtailed its encouragement of hatred and intolerance towards Jews and Israel throughout its educational system. Palestinian campuses are hotbeds of anti-Zionism, and the professors and administrators have openly and consistently spawned terrorism against the Jewish State. And, while Israeli-Jews are unwelcome on Arab or Palestinian-Arab campuses, Arabs in Israel enjoy academic freedom – including the right to wage raucous demonstrations against the Jewish state. ASA members should ask the simple question pertaining to freedom and human rights: Could a Jewish-Israeli student survive on a Palestinian campus? The obvious answer is no. He or she would likely be killed.


Another reason given for the ASA boycott against Israeli academic institutions is allegedly “Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions.” This shameful excuse by the ASA is indicative of malice, if not ignorance. The ASA should know that the UN has been stacked against Israel almost from the beginning. The combination of the Muslim and Soviet blocs could have passed a resolution in the General Assembly that the “earth is flat” and it would have won by an overwhelming majority. Today, while the Soviet bloc is gone, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is still the largest and most influential voting bloc in the UN. Insofar as international law is concerned, UN Security Council Resolution 242 speaks of Israel exchanging “territory,” not all the territories in the West Bank or Judea and Samaria it liberated from Jordan in 1967. Jordan occupied these territories during the 1948 War of Independence and its annexation attempts were never recognized by the international community. Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel and the former received the entire Sinai Peninsula in return. Jordan, too, settled its claims with Israel.


In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan, transferred responsibility for the future of the West Bank to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), who chose the armed struggle and terror against Israel rather than peace negotiations. The Oslo Accords signed in September, 1993, were violated in September, 2000, when Yasser Arafat launched the Second Intifada rather than agreeing to an “end the conflict with Israel” at Camp David, held under the auspices of President Clinton. Israel has not violated international law. It is the Palestinian refusal to compromise that has kept “the pot boiling.”


It is apparent that the ASA is only willing to use the boycott weapon against the Jewish State. When Jewish and pro-Israel students’ human rights were violated on Canadian campuses in 2010, there was no call by the ASA for a boycott of those academic institutions. Writing for Canada Free Press, Richard Cravatts, Ph.D., stressed that “ A recent incident that took place at the beginning of February, York University in particular, has now revealed a troubling pattern of tolerating physical and emotional assaults by pro-Palestinian radicals against Jewish students and others who dare to demonstrate any support for Israel or question the tactics of Islamists in their efforts to destroy the Jewish state.”


Professor Cravatts added, “Violence, and threats of violence, against Jewish students during conversations about Israel have occurred at other Canadian universities, as well. At the University of Toronto’s insidious 2009 Israeli Apartheid Week, for instance, the annual event had so devolved into a racist, rabid rally that proceedings were closed to cameras and reporters, and individuals who actually attempted to participate in a dialogue about the issues being raised by the noxious event in the first place were confronted with physical intimidation and threats, encountering the dark side of pro-Palestinianism.”


At the University of California campuses, verbal and physical attacks against Jewish and pro-Israel students have become commonplace. Pro-Israel speakers are usually harassed and sometimes attacked. That is certainly a violation of human rights and academic freedom. Has the ASA boycotted the University of California system for violating the human rights of pro-Israel students?


The New York Times quoted Curtis Marez, President of ASA as saying that the “ASA has never before called for an academic boycott of any nation’s universities.” Marez conceded that many nations including Israel’s neighbors are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s. But, Marez concluded, “One has to start somewhere.” Larry Summers, former President of Harvard University, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, appearing last week on PBS with Charlie Rose, ridiculed the notion of the boycott against Israel and called for a counter boycott of the ASA and its eventTo select Israel as deserving of a boycott when genocide and oppression are being perpetrated by the Iranian and Syrian regimes, to mention but two examples of global evil, is an outrage. Given Israel’s circumstances as an island of progress, democracy, and human rights in a sea of repressive dictatorships and rogue nations, one can only call it anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism. This action by the American Studies Association confers upon it nothing less than a badge of shame. Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here