CNJ: The cancellation of Angela Davis’s university talk is a threat to freedom

LETTERS, 15 April, 2021

• DR Angela Davis, distinguished academic and renowned anti-racist campaigner, had a recent talk at Butler university, Indianapolis, cancelled.

Various reasons were given, but Butler university organisations and community groups said that the university had been “bombarded by pressure from Zionist students… because of Davis’s support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” against Israeli occupation and apartheid.

A campaign to get the talk reinstated has been launched.

Since the 1960s Angela Davis has been a symbol of the refusal of racism and police violence, including mass incarceration of black and brown people, jailed not because they are guilty but because they are black/latino. See her knock-out interview in The Black Power Mixtape.

Cancelling her talk signals an attack on anti-racism and promotes apartheid and repression, not only in Palestine but in the United States and United Kingdom (racism is indivisible, and so it the struggle against it).

Dr Davis stands for millions in the US and globally and is being dishonoured, just as the trial of the police who killed George Floyd goes on and as another black man, Daunte Wright, is killed by police just miles away.

Arming and training the US police, and the military of repressive regimes around the world, is an important part of Israel’s economy. High-ranking US police often go to Israel for training, so they see first-hand apartheid policies in action.

Attacks on academics and publications critical of Zionism are already happening here. Professor David Miller, an expert on Islamophobia, who runs Spinwatch, has been targeted by Zionist students and threatened with dismissal by the University of Bristol. How would Dr Davis be welcomed here?

We urge all those outraged at the treatment of Dr Davis and who stand against racism anywhere, to write to Butler university urging it to accede to the demands of pro-Palestinian students and community groups they are working with, who want to welcome Dr Davis and let everyone hear all she has to say –

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