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May-19-2010 14:57printcomments

In Defence of Pacifica Forum

A group seeks clarification in the wake of a report.

Pacifica forum

(EUGENE, Ore.) - This piece was sparked off by Ersun Warncke's opinion piece "Evict Pacifica Forum from the U of O Campus" published on Salem-News, 11 May 2010.

One of the forum's past guests.

In many ways, some of what Ersun says is uncontroversial: "Hitler should have been beaten to death in the street like a rabid dog the first time he opened his mouth".

Attacking Adolf Hitler is always a safe bet. Whereas, say, the bombing of Hiroshima is still 'controversial', the crimes of Hitler's Nazi party are universally reviled.

It's when he goes on to make a link between the Nazis and the University of Oregon's Pacifica Forum that Ersun enters more contested terrain.

The history of the Pacifica Forum is quite simple. It was founded by a pacifist, Orval Etter. As well as opposing war, Etter always championed free speech. At the height of McCarthyism, Etter invited the head of the American Communist Party to speak at the University.

Around 2004, the Pacifica Forum started discussing the Israel/Palestine question.

It showed two documentaries on Palestine, "The People and the Land", and "Jenin, Jenin".

Naturally, the local Zionists started saying that this was anti-Semitic. Whenever anyone tries to defend Palestinians against genocide by explaining to Americans that their tax money is being used both immorally and against their interests, the Lobby starts a campaign of slander. Salem News writers know this better than anyone.

This had two consequences. First of all, some of the liberal attendees at the Forum stopped attending, and loudly announced in the local press that they were 'no longer affiliated'. They said it was because of anti-semitism. Secondly, Etter invited a genuine far-right intellectual, Valdas Anelauskas, to give talks on 'Zionism in Russia'.

The justification was, if we are concerned about the misuse of Jewish power in Palestine, and to a lesser extent, in the USA, it is valid to re-examine the question in relation to the Soviet Union in the twenties and thirties. It does not mean agreeing with Anelauskas's analysis - but it certainly means one is entitled to listen to it. This is, after all, America. It showed the Forum was not prepared to give an inch to its racist opponents.

Some people don't seem to understand this. The Pacifica Forum has aired quite a number of far-right ideas, including Anelauskas's and the analyses of Professor Kevin MacDonald. It has proudly hosted Holocaust revisionists, without in any way saying "we agree with them". It has also invited its critics, including leftists, anarchists and even Zionists, to take the platform and explain their views. All have refused, hence the continuing right-wing tone of many of the presentations. This is not the result of a conspiracy. If I put more effort into it, I could give left-wing talks every other week, on Marxism, Anarchism, and so on. The Forum has to take what presenters it can get.

Instead of honestly explaining their disagreements with the Forum's presenters, the 'Anti-Hate Task Force' has continued to spread disinformation, some of it to impressionable young people, that the Forum stirs up violence. This is dangerous both to the Forum attendees and the young people, some of whom have been jailed for attacking meetings.

One could defend National Socialism at a Forum meeting. No-one has.

To really find out what Pacifica Forum is about for yourself, look on its website,, and attend one of its meetings - most Fridays at 5.30 at the University of Oregon, Eugene.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Raul Reeve June 5, 2010 2:30 pm (Pacific time)

Hi, DC watcher, I watch DC too. The Anelauskas/Bloom affair was a bit before my time, but since them I've met both of these far-right extremists. Ms. Bloom admitted to attending the AIPAC conference in Portland, a conference where Jewish racists plot to kill Palestinian kids with our money. She also supports the Iraq war, because she thinks its in her ethnic interests. Whereas Anelauskas OPPOSES the war because he thinks its in her ethnic interests! What a corrupt culture we have, where doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is considered worse than doing the wrong thing! Better to kill people, than to avoid doing so for politically incorrect reasons, our morality effectively proclaims. Bloom was invited to address Pacifica Forum, proving its commitment to freedom of speech. If she had accepted, it would have been by far the worst thing the Forum has ever put on - but you can bet your local lefties wouldn't see it like that! The story of Anelauskas's shocking letter really puts anti-semitism into perspective. Anti-semitism isn't killing anyone today. Anyone concerned about the increasingly barbarism of Israel, and the growing detachment from reality of its US supporters - saying soldiers murdering unarmed civilians at sea are acting in self-defence - we are ENTITLED, nay, OBLIGED, to listen to the Eastern European perspective on the origins of Zionism. Fear of anti-semitism is a strategy to stop us understanding and undermining the only significant racial oppression left.

DC Watcher June 1, 2010 1:07 pm (Pacific time)

Hey every once in a while Dawn Coslow shoots out a gem which inspires me to point out to readers what a "spinmeister" she is. Case in point - For years, she has harped that the Anti-Hate Task Force "cherry picked and twisted the facts of those talks" (Anelauskas's Zionism and Russia series). For the umpteenth time, someone is forced to point out to Dawn that those talks were PROUDLY published in their entirety online by Anelauskas - making it a bit easier for folks that read them to determine what the talks are really all about, wouldn't you agree DC? And while we're at it, DC describes outrage at an electronic comment Anelauskas posted at "a pro-Iraq war article" - talk about misrepresentation. Care to repeat the post DC - is the post associated with "pro-Iraq war" or was the post a virulently anti-Semitic comment towards the writer, even citing that she was obviously Jewish with a name like Bloom. Spinmeister - you are the sheeple.

Raul Reeve May 28, 2010 6:02 am (Pacific time)

"Hitler sent his aircraft to damage and destroy the civil population" - so did Roosevelt. "He chose to try to exterminate entire races of people" - so did Britain in Australia. "Making light of Hitler" is a bit of an exaggeration - I said he was no more evil than Stalin and Churchill - hardly a compliment. "The grandfathers of today's generation worked very hard to defeat this guy" - grandfathers on all sides worked very hard to defeat their opponents - how is that an argument? You are allowing emotion to overcome reason. "Murdering millions of people without a single justification" - are you suggesting the Allied bombing of civilians did have a single justification? I would suggest a reputable online paper should do some fact checking before allowing commentators to accuse Pacifica Forum of promoting "all-white Aryan dictatorship".

Raul Reeve May 27, 2010 11:00 pm (Pacific time)

I am aware that the Germans bombed civilians. So did Britain. "He chose to try to exterminate entire races of people" - wow. That was unprecedented - Britain would never do that, like in Tasmania. "Go to Europe, take some tours, talk to people" - it depends which people you talk to, the survivors of German, or Russian, or American, war crimes. I've met Greeks who said the British were just as brutal as the Germans. "Murdering millions of people without a single justification in the world" - do you mean the Allied murders of millions had some justification? "The grandfathers of today's generation worked very hard to defeat this guy" - this amounts to saying that some people fought on the side of the Allies. Er, yeah, and some people fought on the side of the Germans and the Japanese. You will never succeed in opposing Zionism until you overcome the emotional attitudes which get in the way of logic, and break with anti-fascism.

Raul Reeve May 27, 2010 8:07 pm (Pacific time)

Part of Ersun's argument consists of the charge that Hitler was trying to take over the world. Evil though the man was, the evidence doesn't quite add up. In the British conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which is so pro-Allied it recently claimed that British Bomber Command 'saved civilian lives', an article on the Dunkirk evacuation of British troops who had attacked Germany in 1940, grudgingly speaks of 'Hitler’s inexplicable decision not to drive home the attack' which would have wiped out the British force. It's not inexplicable. The most economical explanation is that of Pat Buchanan. Hitler didn't wipe out the British because he wanted peace with the British Empire. Which means he wasn't trying to take over the world. Ah... but some will say... he WOULD HAVE tried to take over the world eventually. Yeah, and Saddam Hussein would have attacked the USA.

Tim King: Wow, you think there is an analogy with Saddam Hussein?  Maybe you need to go to Europe, take some tours, talk to  people.  Hitler sent his aircraft to damage and destroy the civil population of England, London notably.  He tried to take all of Russia, and hopefully you know enough about history to already be aware of how that ended.  Hitler was a damaged mad man who was only self serving and while incredibly intelligent as far as genocidal plots go, there was not a single good bone in his rotten body.  He chose to try to exterminate entire races of people, there is nothing redeeming about it.  Maybe you're not American, it makes no difference, but if you are you should know that the grandfathers of today's generation worked very hard to defeat this guy that you think actually had what, a good side?  Making light of Hitler is like playing with the devil.  Hitler didn't press the attack you referenced, that is fine, there are many other blunders credited to his name, that cost the Germans dearly.  But that doesn't mean he just decided to suddenly give the old Brits a break.  Hell, they were battling on the high seas at maximum level, ships like the Bismark and the Hood.  The Germans were sending boys under 15 years old out to fight in terrible battles toward the end, you think Hitler gave the British a break?  I just can't get over that, I know you cited an article that said something, I didn't quite follow that, but to think that a guy who commanded a nation that duped Russia, overran Poland and France, while murdering millions of people without a single justification in the world, had some better quality, is utter nonsense Paul.  If that isn't your point then forgive me, but I believe it is.      

Webfoot Doug May 27, 2010 5:12 pm (Pacific time)

Free Speech? Pacifist? Not Pacifica. Overwhelmingly, the theme of their presenters is overtly fascistic; the regime they most sympathize with was totalitarian, militarist, and violently anti-pacifist; the Nationalist Socialist Movement they partner with demands an all-white Aryan dictatorship with them controlling all speech. Orval's pathetic attempts to equate his group with Norman Thomas-- who supported the Allies against the Nazis-- is embarrassing. While the "Anarchist Black Tea society" has done some stupid things in their opposition to Pacifica, the question remains-- how do we show our disgust for these fascists while still maintaining traditional academic standards of free speech?

Anonymous 1 May 22, 2010 4:26 pm (Pacific time)

Response to Ersun Warncke's 6:20am comments on May 20: Realize that that those who have attended Pacifica Forum frequently during the attacks of the last four years may find your statements no longer relevant, in some cases never having been relevant. Most importantly is perhaps your request for disclaimer. There've been handouts, written statements on blackboards and countless verbal reminders. Every speaker is his own person, as is every listener/commenter/question-asker who attends. Much like misunderstanding the intent of the "Monty Python," photo, it helps not to make presumptions by being ignorant of a well-known parody.

Ersun Warncke May 21, 2010 10:04 am (Pacific time)

Anonymous: Pacifica has changed the header for their "blog/forum." I assume this has nothing at all to do with me, but the choice of graphics seems much more effective now, and far less prone to misinterpretation. I would point out again that the exercise of editorial discretion in and of itself raises serious questions about Pacifica's claim to be "viewpoint neutral," but I digress.

Ersun Warncke May 21, 2010 10:01 am (Pacific time)

Jay, I understand your perspective, and I don't necessarily disagree with it. I am not sure that I fully agree with your perspective on "free speech" as I understand it. It seems clear to me that the right of free speech must be counter balanced by the right of an individual to respond to speech as they see fit. This is the only way there can be a balance of individual rights. The right of an individual in response to speech may be to ignore it, respond, or take action. The rights of an individual are embodied and amplified in the rights of a community, and so a community has a corresponding right to respond to speech in the same way. Every person has a right to speak, but that does not nullify the rights of others. If I disagree with what someone says, then I certainly have a right to make my disagreements clear. If I own a microphone, then I do not have any obligation to allow someone else to use it. If a community owns a microphone, then they do not have an obligation to allow any individual to use it. As it happens, our government institutions are arranged in a way that gives free speech rights in political discourse, but restricts them with respect to community approval, as determined by the democratic system. Unlimited free speech without fear of government sponsored violence is a right enshrined in our system of law. However, that unlimited free speech has never carried with it a right to use government (community) resources (the proverbial microphone) to broadcast that speech. All individual rights imply conflict, and thus every individual right must exist in balance with the rights of others. I would urge you to keep this in mind in your analysis of free speech.

Jay Knott May 20, 2010 11:33 pm (Pacific time)

Ersun asks if Pacifica Forum would say it does not endorse a particular nasty slur. Look, the Forum does not endorse anything except free speech. Why should it, or any of its attendees, say what they don't say? Why should it reassure the enemies of free speech? Once they'd pleaded not guilty to the charge you mention, they'd have to plead innocent to an endless series of other charges. You can't meet Zionism half way.

Anonymous May 20, 2010 5:45 pm (Pacific time)

Ersun, could you share the link for Pacifica's website that shows the swastika in the header?

Ersun Warncke May 20, 2010 6:20 am (Pacific time)

Jay, I appreciate you taking the time to explain what the Pacifica Forum is about in more detail. I talked to Dawn Coslow about this at some length as well. However, I do not see in what you wrote any response to the facts that formed the basis of my opinion piece: the connection between Jimmmy Marr and NSM, Jimmy Marr's "sieg heil" Nazi salute episode, the false defamations of Islam written by Billy Rojas, the swastika in the header on Pacifica's website, and the linking to the "Zionism and Russia" piece on the Pacifica website. From talking to Dawn, it sounds like there is a deeper story with Billy Rojas, so why not address it? Why not have Marr address these questions of his links to NSM and explain the seig heil business? Why not take the swastika off your website? Why not at least provide some context for the Valdas piece that says something like, "Pacifica does not endorse the view that Jews are the only evil people in the world?" It isn't that hard...

Vic May 19, 2010 9:51 pm (Pacific time)

Only a coward fears opposite viewpoints being aired. If opposing viewpoints are evil and dastardly, then the beat thing that can happen is for those who espouse that belief to be heard. How many of you have been present when the Westboro Baptist hatemongers have been somewhere? I have, and not one person joined them, they simply reinforced what we all thought of them..idiotic hatemongers. Funny how the Ptldindymedia wimps all scream like schoolgirls when Irving or someone comes to town. They are as paranoid, narrow-minded, arrogant and repressive as the "right". I read Irving's book Harvest of Rage, and agreed with a lot of it. The "left" is just as self-righteous as the "right"...they think they have the right and the wisdom to dictate to the rest of us what we can and cannot hear. No Thanks ! I will make my own decisions and I do not need some egomaniacal idiots to censure my life for me. WW2 was funded and choreographed by BIG BUSINESS , in my opinion. See what 5-star Marine general Smedley Butler said about WW2 (if that is not among your censored items)....Censorship is for COWARDS, and those who have smething to hide. BTW, have ANY of you read "Harvest of Rage" ? I seriously doubt it...and if so, what about that book was objectionable to your fragile little minds? I read lots of things I do not agree with...I like to know and understand my enemies. Sometimes I find that they are not even my enemies, but those who would control my thinking want me to believe so. Thank you Pacifica Forum for broadening the horizons of those who are not scared to death of things "different". The rest of you are insignificant sheep...easily herded and manipulated. I have read the Bible FIVE times and think it is mostly bullshit, but there are some great principles in it that I try to live my life by. Open your minds, people.

dc May 19, 2010 8:04 pm (Pacific time)

Typo: (darn it.) Valdas' lecture series spanned 2006, not 2007. He did not hold the Forum floor again until sometime in the later half of 2008. His return was prompted, in part by Hillel's "outrage" at an electronic comment he'd posted at a pro-(Iraq)war article, which the Emerald ran. See $PLC or ADL for the z-twisting of the facts.

dc May 19, 2010 7:28 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks, JK, This is a reasonable telling. For what it's worth, the TWO "liberals" that left the forum, went missing in AUG of 2007--AFTER first publicly championing Valdas' 8 lecture series (which spanned 2007) because THEY WERE PRESENT for his lectures, unlike the Hate Forcers (CALC's "AntiHate Task Force), who have cherry picked and twisted the FACTS of those talks, in order to marginalize and ostricize our political discussion group. Though their plan to evict us has repeatedly failed, it's been interesting (to say the least,) over the ensuing years, to observe and counter their efforts. A study in microcosm of how the Israel-First Network functions. (Yes, we have good notes.) Please don't screen comments posted here, as "Ersun" has been doing! I challenge you to post 'em ALL.

Anonymous May 19, 2010 5:56 pm (Pacific time)

Maybe Ersun will grace your organization with a few moments of his world view and how his ideology shaped that view? Maybe make a video and share it with the world?

Tim King: For the record I could not be happier with any writer.  Ersun knows we are trying hard to raise awareness about Palestine and at times it is a delicate process.  Increasing numbers of Jewish people are joining in a single voice and it is not easy for many.  So, when the Nazi thing enters into it, I pretty much put my foot down too.  Free speech is an incredibly important right, I am not saying I don't support the words of people I hate; you have to if you believe in free speech.  Our job however is the news.  We aren't able to stand on free speech platforms to see how far we can get toward the edge without falling into the flames.  I'd have all of three seconds to sit in a room and listen to a bunch of wound up people speaking from all over the place, as it is described.  I might be interested, like really interested, if the movement was just about Palestine, but is it?  Is it about free speech or Palestine?  You're talking about very very different things, at least in this context.  Any progress we are making in the world for Palestine is highly negated by some goober with a copy of hitler's stupid very very poorly written rambling.  I'm not trying to piss you or anyone else off, I am just asking the question; what is important?  If you say both free speech and Palestine, then I say set them in priority and consider separating them.  I know it is me who is rambling now, but I would love to see something good come out of this.  And maybe sometime we (Ersun and I) could attend, and perhaps we could just do an interview with him,  If you knew him, you would totally like him.  Anyone who doesn't sure wouldn't like me either.  He has a great system of values.  Let's remember that the local rag published that about Mein Kampf.  Finally, I think for the record, and Jay knows this, that Germany's role as a nation backing a madman henchman intent in eliminating people by the race, is absolutely and completely what is accountable for WWII.  The Russians were all over the place, but there were so many thousands of brave allied soldiers who performed well.  The bombings of Germany were terrible, maybe Hitler should have considered what he led his people into.     

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