Report From Occupied Arizona: MALDEF Moves To Suppress Free Speech
I noticed (with equal parts
amusement and pride) that one of my VDARE.COM columns,
Being Invaded Too—by Hispanic Holidays“, is
listed in federal lawsuit brought by the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund against
Arizona`s Maricopa County Community College District.
The suit claims this has allegedly
“negatively affected nearly 280,000 students and
faculty members at the district`s 10 campuses.”
MALDEF must be thin-skinned if it`s
upset about my column.
And one of many odd aspects of the
suit is that Kehowski posts a
disclaimer specifically stating that his web page is
independent from the MCCCD.
Nevertheless, according to
Arizona Star reporter Robert Anglen in his November
13 2004 story
“Hispanics Sue County College System,” the suit filed
behalf of several Latino faculty members at Glendale
Community College, accuses officials of doing nothing to
stop Walter Kehowski from using the computer to send
discriminatory messages and to create a Web site with
links to White supremacist sites.”
The lawsuit represents the latest
development in an all-out effort to strip mathematics
Professor Kehowski of his
academic freedom and his First Amendment right to
freedom of speech.
This is Kehowski`s largely untold
story…the one the Arizona Republic would never
To begin at the beginning, in
October 2003, Kehowski objected to a “Dia de la Raza”
event scheduled at the Glendale Community College and
organized by the Movimiento Estudiantil de Aztlan.
What Kehowski found offensive was
this definition of Dia de la Raza:
affirmation of Latinas/os` indigenous roots, our desires
not to assimilate into mainstream society, our ancestors`
struggle against colonization and genocide, Día de la
Raza resists the popularly celebrated "Columbus
Day" and serves as a remembrance of the everyday
struggles for survival and memory enacted by oppressed
people around the World.
Kehowski suggested instead a
celebration of Columbus Day and Western culture. In a
mass e-mail to his list containing links that challenge
multiculturalism, Kehowski asked why the district was
“endorsing an explicitly racist event.”
Here is the entire text of
Kehowski`s e-mail, sent October 7 2003:
That set off a fifteen month long
firestorm of events aimed at getting Kehowski fired.
Among them were:
- An E.E.O.C. investigation, which
my colleague James Fulford
reported to VDARE.COM readers, into whether
Kehowski was distributing Internet links that promoted
“racial hatred, intimidation and supremacy.” The
E.E.O.C. eventually dropped its case,
- A Freedom of Information Act
filing by Glendale Community College librarian David
him) that resulted in Kehowski having to turn over
all of his college e-mails for the past two years.
- The use of Kehowski`s e-mails in
an October 2004 “Rally Against Hate”
demonstration, which charged that for one year Kehowski
has made “disparaging remarks” against
“ethnic minority students and instructors.” The
demonstration also asserted that the university
contributed to a “climate of fear and
discrimination” and “created a hostile
environment that is damaging the teaching and learning
for students, faculty, and staff.”
During the course of several
interviews with Kehowski, he told me:
has been a difficult year. I was very concerned about how
all of this negative publicity would affect my
relationship with my students. But even though some of
them are MEChAs, everything has been cool with them. They
know that they have been treated fairly by me in class.”
Predictably, Kehowski says, the
rabble-rousers get all the media attention while
those who believe in academic freedom and freedom of the
press are marginalized.
For example, Kehowski told me that,
despite predictions by
“Rally Against Hate” organizers that hundreds would attend,
only a handful showed up.
And Kehowski added that he is still
receiving dozens of e-mails from supporters on and off
Regarding the role played by the
Arizona Republic, Kehowski said,
“Now I really know
what media bias is.”
Kehowski told me that reporter
Robert Anglen e-mailed him at 5:30 Friday afternoon to
get quotes for his Saturday story, “Hispanics Sue
County College System.”
“Kehowski did not return calls or e-mails on Friday.”
But Anglen was wrong—Kehowski had
returned his e-mail at 6:30 p.m.
Here, in part, is what Kehowski
subsequently wrote to Anglen:
“I assume you really want
to talk and that emailing me late on a Friday isn`t
simply a token gesture on your part. Yvonne Wingett
her—another Arizona Republic reporter who
wrote negatively about Kehowski in her story
`College, Latinos Urged to Talk`]
never followed up on her
attempt to contact me after I emailed her. She in fact
never acknowledged my email and said I couldn`t be
reached for comment in her article even though she had a
span of 3 days to reach me.
“An obvious question is
Latino activist groups]
can claim I create a hostile environment when there are
two MEChAs on the GCC Faculty Senate and another one has
been promoted to Sr. Asst. Dean of Instruction. That
means at least three MEChA faculty at GCC alone.
“As for my web page, I
basically assume you`re an adult or at least will grow up
intellectually to be one someday and if you don`t like
what you find there, then you don`t have to look.
“My web page is
for people who can think for themselves and decide
whether or not to keep reading.
“A web page is a totally
passive object. There`s absolutely no coercion involved
in its existence. There are many pages on the web I
object to but my only defense is simply never to look at
“I also never promote my
page in any class I teach or link it in any way to my
class pages. They always have been and always will be
it`s comes down to Academic Freedom and Freedom of
Speech. Do I have these rights, or don`t I?”
(E-Mail Arizona Republic`s
Although exasperated by the yearlong
ordeal, Kehowski heaped praise on the school
administration for refusing to capitulate despite heavy
“They have to be commended,”
Kehowski said, “They have been sympathetic and
sensitive to the controversy but they have staunchly
defended academic freedom and freedom of speech.”
E-Mail addresses for those
administrators Kehowski named as being supportive during
- Rufus Glasper,
firstname.lastname@example.org ( Chancellor of the
- Phil Randolph,
email@example.com (GCC President)
- Jean Abel,
firstname.lastname@example.org (GCC Dean of
- Carmela Arnoldt,
email@example.com (GCC Faculty
Remember—these are the Good Guys in this story!]
I have great respect for Kehowski. I
too am a
teacher in a public school system, a columnist, and a
highly visible community member.
And several attempts have been made
to have me removed from my teaching position.
But Kehowski and I have prevailed—in
large part because we have supportive people around us.
That is a very gratifying.
But in a free country, our
colleagues` heroism should not be necessary.
Not for the
first time, diversity is proving incompatible with
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.