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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Orion > Terry Tempest Williams > Open Space of Democracy Tour

Many of you, I'm sure, read that Terry Tempest Williams was disinvited from Florida Gulf Coast University. The University's President feared a the school could be financially and/or politically damaged were Williams to make remarks critical of President Bush. The Board of Trustees--all but one appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush-- voted 11-1 to support the decision. One might also note that President Merwin contributed $2000 to President Bush's campaign, that the larger Florida Board of Trustees are appointed by Jeb Bush and the majority of major donors to FGCU are supporters of the Bush brothers.

Merwin is of course correct in that were Williams to speak critically of either Bush, the University would be at risk. This, perhaps, is the most damning thing Merwin could say about the Republican sector of Florida--that they would penalize open dissent in a public university. This strikes me as the nadir of democracy in America. When universities begin limiting the free exchange of ideas out of either a well-founded fear of political repercussions (taking Merwin at his word), or from highly Machiavellian crushing of any and all dissent.

Either way, Merwin should not be a University President. Either he is in collusion with the Republican power brokers and is ethically compromised, or he feels he must sacrifice the very foundations of higher education to ensure that it remains. In which case, he simply is not a president of a university, but the CEO of ... what? A profit making corporation? The education wing of the Republican party? The spineless toady of Jeb Bush?

Perhaps Merwin would have more credibility if he didn't allow, of all people, Dick Cheney to speak on campus this coming Thursday. Dick flippin' Cheney! The FGCU fiasco looks more and more like a microcosm of American today. Sacrifice anything, even the most sacred tenets of democracy in order to secure power.Orion > Terry Tempest Williams > Open Space of Democracy Tour


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