Columbia University assistant professor of anthropology Nicholas DeGenova made controversial comments at a March 27 anti-war teach-in on campus that has resulted in a political backlash and called forth comments from students, academicians, soldiers and Congressmen threatening the professor’s tenure at Columbia University. According to the campus daily newspaper, “The Columbia Spectator,” Professor DeGenova, during an argument in which he equated patriotism and support for U.S. troops with the perpetuation of U.S. imperialism and racism, said he hopes Iraqi armies defeat U.S. troops. DeGenova told the crowd, “The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.” According to the newspaper, he also said that he wished for “a million Mogadishus,” a reference to the city in Somalia where 18 American soldiers were killed and dozens were wounded in an ambush in 1993. DeGenova had told the audience at Columbia’s Low Library anti-war teach-in that “U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy.” Columbia University has become inundated by e-mail denouncing Professor DeGenova’s comments. In statements released March 31 and April 3, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger decried the content of DeGenova’s comments. “I am shocked that someone would make such statements,” Bollinger said. “Because of the University’s tradition of academic freedom, I normally don’t comment about statements made by faculty members. However, this one crosses the line and I really feel the need to say something. I am especially saddened for those families whose lives are at risk.” Bollinger’s statements did not go over very well with Columbia University students. The statement was posted on the University’s website and provoked harsh criticism from students. Ned Treadwell, e-mail list administrator for the Columbia Student Solidarity Network, said,” I have no objection to Bollinger saying whatever the hell he wants, one way or the other, on the war, but it bothers me that Bollinger would use official University avenues to advertise his own political position, especially considering the threats of violence that DeGenova is receiving.” John Belman, a Michigan educator, in an e-mail reaction to the DeGenova’s comments stated, “As a former ranger participant in the ‘Black Hawk Down Mogadishu’ action and a former student at Columbia University, I naturally was outraged by DeGenova’s comments. Having thought about this, it occurred to me that DeGenova sought this kind of reaction looking for celebrity status. Sean Penn meet Professor DeGenova.” William Pratt, a Columbia University senior whose father is with U.S. forces in Iraq, was pleased to see that DeGenova’s comments have concerned the nation. “There’s a thin line between freedom of speech and stupidity of speech,” Pratt said. “And DeGenova jumped right over it.” Meanwhile DeGenova claims that his comments were taken out of context. In a letter written to the “Spectator” he wrote, “I am quoted as wishing for a million Mogadishus, but with no indication whatsoever of the perspective that framed the remark. My rejection of U.S. nationalism is an appeal to liberate our own political imaginations such that we might usher in a radically different world in which we will not remain the prisoners of U.S. global domination.” In Washington D.C., Representative J.D. Hayworth, Republican from Arizona said, “I heard the press accounts, and I think I reacted as most Americans did-with outrage and disbelief.” Hayworth continued, ” I was also disappointed with President Bollinger’s response.” The result is a letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger–calling for Professor DeGonova’s dismissal. According to Hayworth, members of Congress are “lining up” to sign the letter. “Virtually everyone I show this letter to signs immediately,” he said. An abridged version of the letter states: “As members of Congress who stand for election every two years, we are no strangers to the frank exchange of ideas and vigorous debate, and we have a deep appreciation for America’s tradition of academic freedom. However, we also have an equally deep appreciation for the fact that our words have consequences.” The letter continues, “Assistant professor DeGenova has brought shame on the great institution that is Columbia University. As an assistant professor, DeGenova has not yet earned the promise of lifelong academic employed person, i.e. tenure. We hope that you will take steps immediately to ensure he never gets it.” In the first hour of circulation, 65 members of Congress signed Hayworth’s letter. Professor DeGenova’s students demonstrated as they gathered in support of the professor on the steps of the Low Library at Columbia, their eyes, ears, and mouths covered with American flag bandanas. The students said they were outside in the rain, “because Professor DeGenova has been prevented from teaching by the threats made on his life. We are here to mark his absence with the silence which has been imposed on us.” Columbia University eliminated Professor DeGenova’s entry into the university’s online address and telephone directory and eliminated DeGenova’s classes on the online course directory. The bandanas were meant to indicate that the deluge of criticism has censored DeGenova’a free speech rights. In addition to Hayworth’s letter, the release of inflammatory comments by DeGenova regarding Asan Akbar, the army sergeant that rolled grenades into an officers’ tent in Kuwait two weeks ago, may further serve to incite the media. One hundred four members from the House of Representatives have signed Hayworth’s letter as of Friday, April 4.