Revolution #91, June 10, 2007

Graduation Day Protest :

UMass Students Repudiate Bush's Right-Hand Man

On May 25, hundreds of students from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst graduating class of 2007, as well as faculty, refused to allow their school to honor a war criminal, Bush’s former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The UMass protesters booed Card off the stage at the commencement ceremony where he was to have received an honorary degree. In the build-up to the Iraq war, Card was the director of the White House Iraq Group and was largely responsible for orchestrating and promoting the lies about WMDs that were used to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

At the graduation ceremony, on a day when the focus of the university community is on them, the students held up giant banners reading “War Criminal” and signs saying “Honor Students, Dis-card” as Card took the stage. Boos drowned out remarks from the Chancellor, and Card was forced to return to his seat without addressing the crowd. Outside the commencement, a student in cap and gown commented to New England Cable News, "You've invited a man that lied to the country, lied the nation into an illegal and unnecessary war." (Video clips of the protest are on for "UMass" and "Card.")

When the university’s plans around Andrew Card became known, UMass students were outraged by this and acted with a petition that gathered 1,000 signatures. They organized a rally earlier in May where 300 to 400 students demanded that the university not honor Card with the degree. They marched to the administration office where they held a sit-in, playing drums, clapping, and chanting "Hey hey, ho ho, Andrew Card has got to go."

In an open letter to the Chancellor published in the May 14 issue of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, one of the organizers, Jeff Napolitano, wrote: "Neither I, nor do the majority of students, staff and faculty who are appalled by this University's offer, believe that giving an honorary degree to George W. Bush's right-hand man is anything but political. Card was the Chief of Staff for the Bush administration, one of the primary actors in the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which sold the war and invasion of Iraq to the American people, and was implicitly involved in the manipulation of such evidence. As the ‘gatekeeper’ to Bush, he certainly had a part to play in the criminally negligent response to Hurricane Katrina, as well as the reports from the intelligence agencies before 9/11.

“We don't care if Mr. Card is credited with helping you appropriate some funding for UMass projects--we don't care if tomorrow he were to dig into his own personal bank account and give a billion dollars to UMass. Getting money for this cash-strapped school does not wash off the blood of hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of people from his hands.…"

It’s important that those responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be called out wherever they go, and that students all over make it known that they refuse to accept the lies of the Bush regime and the ongoing war in Iraq.

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