Teach-ins spread

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Sep 21 16:37:53 MDT 2001

Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 21, 2001

Teach-ins spread on state campuses in wake of attacks

By Mary Jane Smetanka

Noah Kunin's family has roots in the antiwar movement of the 1960s.
His mother was a protester at the University of California, Berkeley,
the University of Minnesota student said Thursday. But he's never
really been interested in such things himself.

Until now.

Kunin was among the 100 university students, staff and faculty
members who jammed into a standing-room-only lecture hall for a
teach-in on last week's terrorist attacks.

"On September 11, I was totally shaken," the freshman said. "I
thought, wow, I need to reorganize my priorities. I want to learn
more. I'm finding this very informative."

In an echo of the 1960s, teach-ins, rallies and forums have
proliferated on Minnesota college campuses since last week. At St.
Cloud State University, there were sessions on anti-Arab bias and
biological terrorism. The College of St. Catherine held discussions
reflecting on peacemaking. Carleton College in Northfield held
discussions on Islam, and at Macalester College in St. Paul, student
groups sponsored community forums.

At the University of Minnesota, teach-ins are being organized by
politically active students. So far, the sessions have been decidedly
left-leaning. Marwa Hassoum, a graduate student in feminist studies,
is unapologetic about that. She said teach-ins simply balance
"pro-war" information.

"I think we are getting enough rhetoric about going to war," she
said. "If you want to see the other side, flip on your TV or pick up
the newspaper."

The university's teach-ins, which began last week and have been
running three days a week, have been standing-room-only. (For space
reasons, they're open only to students and university employees.)
Thursday's talk by political science Prof. August Nimtz drew about
100 people [August Nimtz was in the SWP].

Nimtz, who studies African politics, social movements and Marxism,
called last week's events "dastardly" and said terrorists do not
represent the interests of oppressed people. But he said the act
might be explained by U.S. foreign policy, which he said has
victimized people around the world. "Victims are not always able to
distinguish between working people and policies," Nimtz said.

Nimtz argued that the United States has used "state-sponsored
terrorism" against Vietnam, Korea, Panama and Iraq, among others, and
said foreign policy is designed to benefit "the ruling rich."

Koby Nahmias, an Israeli graduate student, challenged Nimtz's
premises and questioned the worth of teach-ins he called one-sided
and socialistic.

"Are we having a debate, or not?" Nimtz replied with a smile. "I
think we are -- you were here to disagree with me."

Nimtz said students invited him to speak. The last teach-ins at the
university were during the Gulf War, he said.

Kunin attended this week's teach-ins, and said he plans to attend
next week as well. Though he said he is open to other points of view,
he already has an opinion.

"My mom and I have flipped," he said. "She's pro-war, and I'm
antiwar. She's saying, 'This is different from Vietnam.' And I'm
saying, 'It's exactly the same.'"

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 09/21/2001

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