Professor Kirstein On War and Academic Freedom at Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society

I will present a paper at the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society biennial international conference on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at the venerable Palmer House in Chicago’s Loop. These are the participants, of whom some are civilian but many are senior level military personnel from various nation-states.

This is an abstract of my paper: “The War on “Terror” as Threat to America: Academic Freedom and Suppressing Dissent.”

The War on Terrorism, beginning after 11 September 2001, and the Iraq War are justified by American national-security elites as essential in preserving American democracy and freedom. “Radical Islam” is portrayed as “evil” and a mortal threat to the liberal democracies of the “civilized world.” Not since McCarthyism, however, has the United States witnessed such a comprehensive assault on dissent and critical thinking within the academy.

Academic freedom, an essential component in the advancement of knowledge and the challenging of unbridled state power and militarism, has been eviscerated on many college and university campuses. Professors have been forced into early retirement (Berthold), suspended (Kirstein), intimidated by members of Congress (De Genova), incarcerated (Al-Arian) and fired (Churchill) for antiwar activities. Professors from abroad have been denied visas due to political beliefs or even ethnic association that may not satisfy the conformist demands of the Department of Homeland Security (Ari; Ramadan). Professors have been blacklisted and vilified as anti-American and sympathetic to terrorism by major conservative figures such as David Horowitz, Laura Ingraham and Daniel Pipes. In the name of counter-terrorism, both governmental and neo-conservative supporters are attacking many of our rights, such as academic freedom, they disingenuously claim are protected by military action.

This is the panel to which I have been assigned:

Session Topic: Communication at All Levels

Paul R. Viotti, University of Denver, chair and presenter

John R. Ballard, National War College, “The Role of Information in the War on Terrorism in Iraq”

Peter N. Kirstein, St Xavier University, “The War on “Terror” as Threat to America: Academic Freedom and Suppressing Dissent”

Jeanine Kabrich, University of Tennessee, “History of the Roles of Women in American Forces Radio and Television Services”

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