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Response to the arrest of two anti-war activists

August 20, 2010

(This letter was submitted to the Big Rapids Pioneer by Barry Mehler, Director Institute for the Study of Academic Racism.)

The Real Sin of Sodom

Many people believe the sin of Sodom was sodomy, it wasn’t. The rabbis teach that the sin of Sodom was their inhospitality, their cruelty to strangers, their xenophobia. Strangers were never welcome in them parts. It was a lynch mob came for those strangers. And the innocent blood shed in that town cried out to God who sent an angel to destroy the city.

I have a modest proposal, but first, I would like to ask a question. Why is Ahlam Mohsen still in our jail? Max Kantar was released after it was acknowledged that the crime does not warrant a $250,000 bond. She pushed a pie into our Senator’s face. Ok, so charge her with assault with a pie and let her go already. She is not a threat to us. On the contrary, she is our scapegoat. We are punishing her for all the fears and anxieties we have about our future.

I don’t know the young lady other than what I have read and seen. She is a senior at MSU, a vegan and looks to me to be a very sweet young lady.  I bet her parents are very proud of her achievements and just a little uncomfortable with her intensity and passion. She spent a year in Palestine which is a sign of courage to me. I know, I’ve spent time in Palestine myself. In fact, I love the place, it is the land of my father Abraham. There is no place like it anywhere else on earth. It’s a little hard to understand why Jews, Christians and Moslems can’t get along in Jerusalem, of all places.

I know Max Kantar very well. He is the finest student I have ever taught. Max has amazing amounts of energy and is as sharp as they come. He combines a first rate mind with a passion for justice that no one around here can match. I’ve heard he is referred to as “Mad Max” around town, but to my mind, he is the one young man from this town that I am truly proud of.  I’m proud that he has been a student of mine, that he has worked on my archives and has taken my courses. Max did an independent study with me, I think it was last year. He spent a semester teaching me about Gandhi and non-violence.  We spent a lot of time talking about the virtues of non-violence. We watched a fabulous movie on the Baader-Meinhoff gang and discussed the terror cells of the radical left during the sixties and seventies. We looked at the results of their efforts and found them to be mostly negative. In the end, Max was solidly in the non-violent camp. He isn’t going to hurt anyone.  Neither will Ahlam.  She is a vegan and I’ll bet she is also a practitioner of non-violent political action. I don’t think she means us any harm.

So here is my proposal. We lower her bond as we did for Max. We schedule a date for Williams Auditorium, so everyone can come and we allow Max and Ahlam to answer all your nasty questions – as long as we keep it civil! No shouting and cursing.  Tell them why your angry and let them explain why they did what they did. At the end of the program, I will walk up to Ahlam and push a pie into her face. And then we will bring this travesty to an end. Before we are all ashamed of ourselves.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2010 6:53 pm

    hmmm…. I’m rather out of it. It seems like things have really gotten much tougher/rougher. I recall … well a while ago, sitting in with a group in a Senator’s office ~ this disrupted things quite a bit. Police came and we were detained, held, taken over to jail, fingerprinted etc ~ and then released. Nothing came of it. Everything dropped. Goodbye please, and out the door – don’t let it hit you……………….. Perhaps we didn’t involve…… pie.
    It could have been a shoe, which would have been worse for several reasons….

    Its very odd that Sen. Levin, of all people, would not make this go away immediately. I recently sent him a rather impassioned, irate letter in response to one of his staff ltrs that said much about nothing, and I recently spoke with an aid in his office and threatened, half jokingly, half seriously, that I might find it necessary to come and chain myself to a desk there if they didn’t put more steam on on some issues (i know they were terribly frightened ; ) But perhaps I should be more careful.

    Will have to wait til Monday to call, but will.

  2. Dave Clark permalink
    August 20, 2010 7:35 pm

    The letter you have on your site, to date, has never been sent to the Pioneer. When it it, I will publish it.

    Your site does NOT have permission to publish any of the Pioneer’s work. Please remove all of our stories and photos you have on your website.

    Dave Clark
    Editor in chief
    The Pioneer

  3. August 20, 2010 8:12 pm


    You can ignore the demand to remove my letter since I personally gave it to you before giving it to the Pioneer. Fortunately, I was on my out when I read their sentiments about a letter that they have yet to receive. We should now clarify that the letter was not sent to the Pioneer.

  4. August 20, 2010 8:30 pm

    Thanks for your comments Monica. The responses from the feds certainly have changed over the years as you say. I was arrested at Levin’s office in December and instead of the GRPD coming agents with Homeland Security arrested us.

    The big issue for me is all of this, in addition to the rights of the two arrested is what kind of impact this kind of state repression will have on people who want to confront elected officials on the policies they support.

  5. August 20, 2010 8:42 pm

    Dave – first, we have never published any of your paper’s work. Second, since Mr. Mehler sent it to me and I had his permission to publish it then I have that right. Mr. Mehler has since written (see above) that he never sent the letter as was originally intended. So, you can stop with the intimidation tactics and get back to the job of trying to provide good journalism for the people of Big Rapids.

  6. Wildbird permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:30 am

    I bet these idiots though OBAMA was going to bring the troops home and sit around with the AL AQUEDA and smoke the peace hooka WHAT PATHETIC FOOLS LIBERALS ARE

  7. Jeff Smith permalink*
    January 4, 2011 1:15 pm

    The people who participated in this action had no illusions about Obama and were not Obama supporters, especially since he stated clearly in his campaign that he would escalate the US war in Afghanistan and maintain economic & military support for Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

    I know it maybe hard for you to understand that just because you are against the war doesn’t mean that you support Democrats. In fact, many who are anti-war don’t support the Dems since they are just as committed to war and empire as the Republicans.

    The people who took action did so because what Senator Levin supports is war crimes and the pie throwing helped to expose that.

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