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Tuesday, June 24th -- Pacifica Forum hosts a lecture, "Homo americanus vs. Homo sovieticus; Twin Brothers?", by a guest from Croatia, Dr. Tomislav Sunic. One of the foremost European intellectuals and a former Croatian diplomat, Dr. Sunic for a time was also a professor of political science at several U.S. universities. He will present his most recent book, Homo Americanus; Child of the Postmodern Age.
EMU June 24, 2008Brian Davies/The Register-Guard George Beres (left) and Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin debate the merits of free speech during a protest of an appearance by Tomislav Sunic.
More than 40 people attended a vigil at the University of Oregon Tuesday to protest local discussion group Pacifica Forum’s latest controversial speaker, Tomislav Sunic.
Connecting a recent rash of unrelated hate crimes to Pacifica Forum’s slate of invited speakers, the protest brought together members of several peace activist groups and was organized by Community Alliance of Lane County.
Sunic’s speech, “Homo Americanus vs. Homo Sovieticus: Twin Brothers?,” drew about 30 listeners. He promoted views put forth in his recent book, “Homo Americanus: Child of the Post-Modern Age.”
In a September 2007 blog post on Intellectual Conservative, Troy University history professor Nathan Alexander said Sunic’s book criticizes U.S. democracy and multiculturalism and suggests that many of America’s actions are a form of religious crusade.
An anti-Jewish thread runs throughout the book, Alexander said.
In the amphitheater outside the UO’s student union building, protesters held signs reading “Shame on you Pac. Forum” and “Hate Hurts.”
They also distributed literature that connected recent racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and actions to speakers hosted by the forum, including Holocaust revisionist David Irving on June 9 and Sunic.
Recent incidents include anti-Semitic graffiti on a bike bridge, and a rock with a racist message attached thrown through the window of a black man’s storefront.
Community Alliance member Sally Sheklow spoke to the crowd, explaining the motivation for organizing the peaceful gathering.
There seems to be an “escalating message of hate,” she said. “We don’t want that in our town.”
The incidents have emerged just days before Eugene hosts the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, which begin Friday. At a press conference earlier Tuesday, Angel Jones, Eugene’s assistant city manager and a member of the Trials’ steering committee, spoke about the recent incidents.
The Trials are “a great example of how a community can come together and overcome obstacles and focus on the positive,” she said. “I think those events have signaled to this community that we need to be together and send a message that this is not OK in this community, and that is happening.”
Michael Williams, a CALC member, said he doesn’t believe there’s a direct connection among the recent spate of hate crimes — and that bothers him even more.
“That’s more disturbing,” he said, “that there’s this many individuals who are susceptible to this message of hate.”
Williams said he believes it’s important to speak out against the Pacifica Forum because it creates “an environment that is warm and welcoming to those kinds of sentiments.”
Pacifica Forum leaders have said activists’ protests have helped fuel the string of hate crimes. But Jewish community leader Irwin Noparstak said activists feel they have to speak up.
“We just feel we cannot be silent,” he said. “I don’t mean Jews, I mean a broad coalition of people.”
Tuesday, June 24, 2008