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Lisa Hajjar of UC Santa Barbara focused on what she called “a sociological approach to the war on terror.” She never explained what this analysis would entail, but instead went on a diatribe about the U.S. and the Bush/Cheney administration. “Bush and Cheney used targeted killings to torture and kill Muslim Americans,” she stated, as well as lamenting the Obama administration’s continuance of the same counterterrorism policies. From that point on, her talk focused mostly on prisoners in Bagram, Afghanistan. “It is a human right not to be tortured,” she stated, before adding, “The U.S. government and Israel constantly break this rule.” Overlooking the human right violated by terrorists on 9/11, Hajjar and her cohorts presumed that Islamic terrorism is an imaginary monster created by the West—particularly the U.S. and Israel—in order to achieve world domination.
Presenting the audience with photographs of inmates allegedly being tortured and humiliated by American guards at the Bagram detention camp and Guantanamo Bay, Hajjar ranted:
Dick Cheney, who had neither military experience nor any experience in torture tactics, spearheaded this movement. The CIA has virtually zero experience in torture tactics, but was given great license under Cheney.
She next asserted, inexplicably, that “people only need to torture or kidnap people when they have no concrete evidence.” Concluding her slideshow with a photograph of a sleep-deprived Khalil Sheikh Muhammed, the mastermind behind 9/11, Hajjar expressed alarm over how “badly we tortured him.” More alarming was Hajjar’s sympathy for a man who played a direct role in the slaughter of thousands of innocent people.
The evening concluded with a brief question and answer session wherein audience members echoed the worries of the speakers and asked how to “get involved in the fight against torture.” Not one person challenged the speakers.
The event offered nothing new regarding the war on terror, but rather trite tropes such as America as a “military state,” America as the voracious imperial state, and America as a “surveillance industrial complex.” These analogies evince a far greater problem in academia, where dissent is only patriotic if aimed at the West. A truly courageous act in such a setting would examine the forbidden topic of Islamic terrorism and the apologetic stance of today’s professors.
Please email your concerns and comments to University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor Gene Bock (firstname.lastname@example.org) and University of California, Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang (email@example.com).
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