Bruin Alumni Association
UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

Chapter 1 - A Day for 'Solidarity'

Chapter 2 - Changing the Subject

Chapter 3 - The Students

Chapter 4 - The Professors

Chapter 5 - Resolutions All Around!

















UCLA's Fight Against the War on Terror

Chapter 4
The Professors

    Students were not the only group at UCLA engaged in direct or indirect obstruction of the War on Terror.  Their own professors, the college students of the anti-war Vietnam generation, were by their sides at the barricades.  Arguably most vocal in the anti-war effort was History Professor Gabriel Piterberg.  Pictured on his UCLA-provided webpage rakishly smoking a cigarette[i], Piterberg is a notoriously anti-Israel Jew (born in Argentina) who can be counted on to lead the radical vanguard on almost any issue.  At an April 18, 2003 anti-war teach-in (which came after the end of major combat), the Daily Bruin noted “Piterberg [] said the Iraqi people might actually have preferred a dictatorial regime to a democratic government, but he later scaled his statement back and said the Iraqi people enjoyed stability and predictability.”[ii]  Piterberg was joined at that teach-in by Communications Professor Paul Von Blum who stated, “I see the PATRIOT Act as a major intrusion on our tradition of civil liberties. We need to mobilize politically to prevent an Orwellian nightmare.”[iii]  In a later retrospective article about the anti-war movement, Piterberg caustically contended that the current lack of anti-war sentiment was because the war was not being fought by “middle-class white boys,” then crowed that victory for the anti-war forces was imminent, predicting that “It's only a matter of time before there will be a major massacre.”[iv]

    The Bruin reported on another anti-war teach-in, this one on April 10, 2003: “Though images of exuberant Iraqis defacing images of their dictator and welcoming U.S. troops have been commonplace in the media recently…Professor Gabriel Piterberg claimed this reaction is not representative of typical Iraqi sentiment.”  At the same event, Professor of History Emerita Professor Nikki Keddie, in reference to Iraq, protested (again, hopefully while squeezing a rubber nose), “I think countries have a right to not be invaded.”  Notoriously radical Professor of History Emerita Joyce Appleby excoriated Bush’s “imperial presidency,” and reiterated her argument that Congressional approval for war was needed.[v]  Appleby and fellow History Department radical Ellen Carol DuBois developed this position into a national petition signed by over 1300 history professors, including 23 from UCLA alone.[vi]

    Other radicals, like Education Professor Douglas Kellner who criticized “misinformation on the war in Iraq,” viewed the debate on war from an explicitly us vs. them mentality – us being smart professors, them being the stupid public.  “The tragedy of our democracy is the people only get the images from the American media,” Kellner complained.[vii]  A fellow member of Kellner’s group, Educators Against the War in Iraq, was Anthropology Professor Karen Brodkin, who noted that the anti-war protests of 2002 caused her to make her anti-war beliefs a topic of conversation with colleagues.[viii]  Given the political makeup of UCLA faculty, that’s a bold move on the level of say, talking sports at a sports bar.  Brodkin would have needed far more courage – not to mention tenure – to tell colleagues that she supported the war.

    Radical anti-war professors also took participated in International ANSWER and Not In Our Name protests.  Italian Professor Elisa Tagnozzi, 11-year old son in tow, explained that her motive for attendance at a January 13, 2003 protest was “questioning the motives (of the war)."  Tagnozzi beamingly explained that a large number of fellow Italian department faculty and graduate students were also in attendance.[ix]

    The biggest on-campus role professors played was in aiding and abetting the campus anti-war walkout of March 5, 2003.  Our old friend Professor Piterberg was so excited about the possibility of impeding UCLA’s only true mission – academics – that he made a pair of public statements which together establish a public lie.  On March 4th, the day before the protest, Piterberg stated, "There is no way I can actively endorse it, or not teach if there are students who choose to stay in class. That would be abuse of my position.”  The March 6th issue of the Bruin reported Piterberg’s rapid switch: “After almost the entire class left, Piterberg decided to reconvene at 1 p.m. so students who wished to be a part of the walkout would not be punished.”  Piterberg also commented, "Politics are part of our lives, missing one class for an hour or two is not going to determine education. An important issue like war is going to affect education.”

    Other professors simply didn’t see any ethical dilemma in the walkout.  Cheryl Ann Zimmer, who teaching a Life Science 1 course, gave her blessing to participating students.[x]  Developmental Biology Professor Jean Perry went even further, completely canceling class[xi], as did Chicano Studies Professor Eric Avila, who told students that he expected to see all of them at the walkout[xii].  Political Science Professor Carol Pateman did not cancel class, but instead “split her class into part lecture, part discussion of the cause of the walkout – American interaction in the Middle East.”[xiii]  English lecturer Greg Rubinson was crestfallen that he had only office hours at 11 am, and couldn’t derelict his job by canceling lecture.  As the Bruin reported, “Rubinson, who said he opposes the war, chose to not cancel office hours and instead took his student and her paper in question with him down to Westwood Plaza [site of the protest rally].”  To add to the idiocy of his desperate symbolism – how does one review a paper in the midst of a crowd chanting “No blood for oil”? – Rubinson stated “This (rally) is democracy, and our administration represents anti-democracy.”[xiv]  The mania extended down to the lowest levels of the teaching process, as one student reported that his Chicano Studies 101 teaching assistant cancelled a conflicting discussion section, scrawling “Support and march in the rally” on the board.[xv]

    Many UCLA professors took more direct action than simply canceling classes, and gave money to back up action.  Federal Election Commission records show that UCLA employees donated $12,125 to the rabid anti-war group MoveOn[xvi], while giving $9,036 to America Coming Together[xvii], the George Soros-funded anti-Bush group.  Howard Dean, the most vocally anti-war presidential candidate of 2004, garnered $19,050 in the few short months before his Iowa meltdown.[xviii]

    Go to Chapter 5 - Resolutions All Around!

[i] http://www.history.ucla.edu/piterberg/

[ii] http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?id=23915

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?id=26333

[v] http://www.today.ucla.edu/2002/020924voiceswar.html

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?ID=29436

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] http://www.dailybruin.com/news/articles.asp?id=22264

[x] http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?ID=23329

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Author’s email interview with student of Avila’s, March 11, 2003

[xiii] http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?ID=23329

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Author’s email interview with student of Avila’s, March 11, 2003

[xvi] Partial documentation at http://www.opernsecrets.org

[xvii] Partial documentation at http://www.opensecrets.org/

[xviii] Partial documentation at http://www.opensecrets.org/