Fifteen NYU activist groups are writing phrases on their picket signs and replacing the batteries in their megaphones in preparation for a protest encouraging the university to cancel an event featuring former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Stern School of Business on Tuesday.
Kissinger served as the National Security Advisor and later on as Secretary of State under President Nixon and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for coordinating peace with Vietnam just five years after he allegedly undermined similar peace talks during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s term. Kissinger was also involved in a secret bombing campaign of Cambodia from 1969 to 1973 during the Vietnam War, ordering 53,000 tons of bombs over a three-month period.
Student activists cite these and other foreign policies as reasoning for protesting his arrival at NYU this Tuesday, asking that the university cancel the talk in a letter posted on a Facebook event titled “No War Criminals at NYU.”
Grace Adeyemi, co-President of Queer Union, will be one of many students hoping for the university to cancel the event through their peaceful protest. Queer Union represents the NYU LGBTQ+ community which is one of many campus groups who will protest Kissinger.
“[As the LGBTQ+ activist group on campus, Queer Union] strives for collective liberation, [recognizing] all of our struggles are connected and that we must work together to create the kind of world we want,” Adeyemi said in an email to WSN. “This is why we support protesting a known colonialist who actively sabotaged countries to further the [United States] and was accused of multiple war crimes.”
NYU is getting ready for Henry Kissinger’s visit this Tuesday! pic.twitter.com/ORAPuYj2f8
— Esor🌹 (@EsorFas) October 14, 2018
In an open letter, activists laid out the various acts Kissinger has taken part in that they see as making him worthy of the title “war criminal.”
Despite the controversy, Stern will be hosting Kissinger as part of their “In Conversation with Lord Mervyn King” series, a decision supported by the university. Lord Mervyn King is a professor of Economics and Law in Stern, and hosts talks with guests periodically. This event is invite only, and no press is allowed in the event.
“The free exchange of diverse ideas and viewpoints is a fundamental value at NYU,” university spokesperson John Beckman said in an email to WSN. “As such, an invited speaker should be able to be heard without disruption. We also recognize the importance of dissent.”
Beckman said that the university will take appropriate steps to make sure the event is not canceled and Kissinger is able to speak.
Gallatin sophomore Madison Kelts, a member of activist group NYU Disorient, said allowing Kissinger to talk would essentially encourage the beliefs, actions and foreign policy approach which the group perceives as conducive to violence and war.
“Out of love and support for each other, we must act in solidarity with our peers whose lives Kissinger’s violent policies negatively impacted, and continue to negatively impact in their repercussions,” Kelts said. “We must not allow his ideas and practices to proliferate, normalized under the guise of foreign policy serving the American national interest.”
This article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 15 print edition. Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]