From members of the Revolution Club Chicago:

University of Chicago Cordially Invites Vile Poison to Spew Forth From the Mouth of Fascist Pig-Dog Bannon... The People Begin to Respond

January 29, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


White supremacist and fascist Steve Bannon accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business from Professor Luigi Zingales. No date has been set, but in response nearly 50 professors signed an open letter of protest, 100 protesters came out to protest immediately at the Booth School chanting “Say it loud and say it clear: stop inviting fascists here!” and a timely mass public meeting was called for the next day.

The Revolution Club came together to discuss what articles to bring out to the mass meeting and the students at U of C. We thought the article “The Issue Is NOT ‘Free Speech’! The Issue Is FASCISM!” by Sunsara Taylor would be good guidance and a model for what students and faculty should do because it gets into WHY the issue should not be on the terms of “free speech” but why this is a platform to justify, normalize, and allow fascists to consolidate power. We felt we had to connect people up with the need to drive out these fascists and to our upcoming film showing of the talk by Bob Avakian THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible. We also talked about how the need for people to stand up to the assault on immigrants is connected with this, not least because Bannon is being invited to speak on the topic of “globalization and immigration”! We decided to send one team to the meeting and another out on campus with signs and a loudspeaker to reach out to students broadly and play the BA video clip, “Why do people come here from all over the world?”

Out on campus, many students had heard that Bannon was coming to speak. There were a few yells of “Fuck Bannon!” from students who walked past us and some people were clear and firm that he shouldn’t be speaking on campus. A lot of others hated Bannon but felt he should be allowed to speak because of the importance of the principles of free speech. People argued that if you stop Bannon from speaking, this threatens all free speech. And that the best way to take on Bannon is to defeat his arguments in a debate. Some people didn’t believe this was a big deal.

We struggled with people over all this. To see that Bannon speaking on campus is part of normalizing fascism, that it’s part of a conscious attack on the universities to strengthen the fascist movement, silence critical thinking and dissent and actually CRUSH free speech. We also struggled over what the actual terms of this “debate” were about and asked students whether we should’ve allowed for Nazis to come into our classrooms for a debate or that people had to get organized to drive them out in Nazi Germany. We made the point that free speech IS important and if people really want to fight for free speech they should be rocking the campus with protests to stop Bannon coming and let people everywhere debate THAT!

We connected this up with what is happening to immigrants right now. The all-out assault on immigrants that is driving forward the consolidation of fascism. As well as the overall white supremacy of Bannon and the whole Trump/Pence regime. The actual terror and destruction of people this means, and the need therefore for students to stand up to stop this Bannon event from happening, as part of standing up to drive the whole regime from power. In between speaking out on a loudspeaker, we played the short version of the clip, “Why do people come here from all over the world?” This drew people to us and helped set terms for all the conversations we were having.

Meanwhile, at the meeting, people came together to reject Bannon’s white supremacist agenda, recognizing the implications of legitimizing him by giving him a platform and inviting him to speak and the need to do all we could do to protest his coming to U of C. There was a feeling in the room of urgency, energy, and initiative coming off of the immediate response of protest the day before. This was strengthened the morning of the meeting by the courageous stand of Samantha Eyler, a staff worker under Professor Luigi Zingales. She recused herself from having anything to do with the Bannon event, and after initially being allowed to do that, she was given an assignment as part of preparing for Bannon coming to U of C. She decided to publicly resign from her position and denounce the invitation to Bannon, and she posted her resignation letter to the UChicago Socialists-ISO Facebook page.

One of the questions in the room was whether to call on the university to disinvite Bannon. Some put out proposals to have programs at the same time when Bannon came to speak instead of confrontation, and that this would more reflect the values of the university. It was good that the majority of the room didn’t go with that and thought it would be a good thing if mass opposition and protest made it so that Bannon doesn’t come to speak. We spoke on this, celebrating those who had stood up immediately the day before and came together today to oppose this, and talked about what it means for this fascist leader to come to the university, the need for universities to become fascist-free zones as part of taking on this fascist regime, and contrasted the example of Pastor Niemöller who did nothing as the Nazis came after one group after another.

There were differences among those who wanted to stop Bannon from coming on how to approach this, such as where and how to focus pressure, but the feeling in the room was that this should precisely be part of what we do now. There was talk of how to be disruptive in all kinds of ways and looking at different ways of doing that. Several people proposed civil disobedience, and talked about the need to put bodies on the line while protecting those people who are more marginalized because of who they are.

Another question in the meeting was how to see the relationship between Bannon coming to the university and what is going on throughout society. Some were proposing that the attention on this issue be used to bring attention to other campus issues that are usually ignored. Here, too, it was a good thing that most people didn’t go for this. We helped to draw the lines more clearly, as people had been saying opposed things and not really addressing the question. It would be wrong for this moment to become one in which people’s sights are narrowed to what this campus was facing. This has to become a moment where students’ sights are raised and everyone has to confront what is actually happening to the people of the world, including right now as leaps are being made in attacking immigrants as part of a whole fascist momentum and consolidation.

This became something many people had to speak to, and most people agreed that what was happening at the university needed to become connected to what is happening in society. An English teacher bounced off this point and proposed we do everything we can at the Booth School of Business and turn that space into a place of radical politics with people doing all kinds of things so business as usual couldn’t happen.

The meeting ended with passing the proposals to protest weekly starting next Friday, also to do silent protest of Zingales when he teaches, holding a banner-making party, and to make sure that if Bannon does come, that there is massive mobilization of protest. Everyone had come together with the focus of how to organize this opposition to Bannon, and this represented a very positive beginning. A lot of the main questions that did come out, like the need to prevent fascists from speaking on campus and the issue of free speech, and the responsibility of students to be part of opposing this regime, have to do with whether and how people understand that there is a fascist regime in power remaking society and doing tremendous harm to the planet and humanity. This will have to be struggled out further as people are coming together and acting to create a response that is commensurate to what is needed to oppose Bannon’s invitation to speak at U of C, and this will be an important part of building the urgently needed movement to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.




Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.