(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/05/Assata_Shakur_c24-0-615-345_s561x327.png)Marquette University is the latest institution of “higher learning” attempting to distance itself from a self-inflicted scandal. The Catholic campus’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) decided to erect a mural honoring one if its apparent heroes: convicted cop killer, escaped convict and wanted terrorist Assata Shakur.
Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, was a member of the former Black Panther Party (BPP) and Black Liberation Army (BLA) and was convicted of the execution-style killing of New Jersey State trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. In 1979 she escaped from prison and lived as a fugitive before fleeing to Cuba in 1984. In 2005 the FBI classified her as a domestic terrorist and offered a $1 million reward for assistance in her capture. On May 2, 2013 she became the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List and New Jersey’s Attorney General added another $1 million to her bounty.
After arriving in Cuba, Assata was granted political asylum by that nation’s Communist government. And despite President Obama’s self-touted effort to normalize relations with the Castro regime, they have made it clear they have no intention of extraditing her. “Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted,” said Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry’s head of North American affairs. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has urged Obama to demand her extradition, offered a far more apt description of the status quo, insisting “these thugs in Cuba have given her political asylum for 30 years. It’s unacceptable.”
The GSRC apparently disagreed. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the mural of Assata, along with two quotes, one of which begins, “No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them…” had been on display at the Center since March. Facebook photos of the mural (since removed) were also posted along with a statement. “Thank you to the Alpha Kappa Alpha’s (sic) for initiating the mural to be done at the GSRC. It looks absolutely beautiful. Check it out at AMU 425.”
University officials became aware of the outrage following criticism by associate professor of political science John McAdams on his Marquette Warrior blog. McAdams himself faces possible termination from the university because he detailed a confrontation between a student and the graduate student instructor of a philosophy class. The instructor allegedly told the student he was not allowed to make “homophobic comments” engendered by his stance against gay marriage, because such a stance would “offend” gay students.
On March 18, Marquette issued a statement. ”Our university’s senior leadership just became aware of a mural that was created and displayed in a remote area of campus. This is extremely disappointing as the mural does not reflect the Guiding Values of Marquette University. It is being removed immediately. We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the mural and will take appropriate action.”
A visit to the Center revealed that removal consisted of covering the mural with a coat of white paint. Photos of the mural were also removed from the GSRC’s Facebook page by 9 a.m. the same day.
The Twitterverse hammered the university, and one suspects tweets such as “#MarquetteUniversity WILL NEVER AGAIN get another dime of mine! A mural of a COP KILLER, Really? My money will now go to DEFAMING #MARQUETTE,” or “I think the parents sending their kids there should take them out! Alumni should withhold donations!! This is wrong message sent!” engendered the Catholic university’s next move: one day after the mural’s removal, they fired GSRC director and women’s and gender studies professor Susannah Bartlow. “Susannah Bartlow is no longer an employee with Marquette University,” said University Spokesman Brian Dorrington in an email to the Marquette Wire. “We will work with the Center’s advisory board to search for a new director so that we can continue to grow the important programs in the Center.”
Unsurprisingly, there was blowback. As of May 22, there were 452 signatures on a petition to keep Bartlow employed at Marquette. “We who are in support of this petition and the reinstatement of Bartlow are in no way making a statement about the mural or the woman featured on it,” said alumna and petition co-creator Samantha Kemp. “Our efforts are directed solely at the reinstatement of Bartlow.”
Joshua-Paul Miles, coordinator of the Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Committee in Marquette Student Government, and chair of University President Michael Lovell’s Task Force on Equity and Inclusion, also criticized Bartlow’s termination. “Marquette University and its actions against its Gender and Sexuality Resource Center are frowned upon by many students and faculty on this campus,” he said in his statement. “This center and its staff have been responsible and successful in creating a campus environment of inclusivity, respect and acceptance.”
One that abides celebrating a cop-killer.
Leona Dotson, international communications chairman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., upped the ante surrounding the controversy. She released an official statement insisting the mural’s creation was approved by additional university staff prior to its painting by the GSRC. “The chapter worked with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to determine a theme and imagery for the mural,” the statement said. “The chapter, along with other university staff and students, painted a mural that featured an image and quote by Assata Shakur to promote student thinking about their educations and history. Unfortunately Ms. Shakur’s entire history and background was not fully researched. If that process had occurred, she would not have been featured in the mural.”
Utter nonsense. Even a cursory examination of Shakur’s “entire history” would have turned up the most salient aspects of her wretched existence. Yet being the reliable radicals they apparently are, perhaps these student “historians” were satisfied by the kind of “research” offered up by the “Hands Off Assata Campaign” that speaks to the “_obsessive_ and barbaric attempt to malign, imprison and/or asassinate (sic) important and legitimate Black (Afrikan) activists” (italic original). Or perhaps they were dazzled by the gaggle of equally clueless celebrities such as Mos Def and Common who have petitioned for her removal from the FBI’s terror list.
And it remains to be seen if there will be further investigation into the damming allegations of university approval leveled by Dotson.
Regardless, Marquette joins a long and growing list of college campuses that more closely resemble Marxist finishing schools than anything resembling institutions of higher learning. Marxist finishing schools replete with “trigger warnings” for Greek mythology, “safe spaces” insulating students from “controversial” speech, and “free speech zones” designed to corral First Amendment believers into limited spaces. In short, the deliberate indoctrination of college students—with the blessings of many increasingly infantilized students themselves—continues.
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