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  Lectures tested freedom of speech
By Orval Etter
Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Pacifica Forum's affording Valdas Anelauskas a platform for eight lectures on "Zionism and Russia" has renewed ferment in Eugene and on its campus about racism, the "ugly claw of anti-Semitism," "hate," bigotry and freedom of speech. Who is mainly, even solely, responsible for this?

I. In my second childhood at 91, l'enfant terrible, l'ogre, c'est moi.

Why? To test Eugene's commitment to freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech in this town has a checkered past. The nadir probably came in 1917, when Allan Eaton, later a celebrity in art circles, was literally run out of town for questioning the U.S. war against Germany. Another nadir came 10 years ago, when a neo-Nazi was invited to address a forum on racism and members of the audience shouted him down.

The pinnacle of free speech came in 1963, when Arthur Flemming, the president of the University of Oregon and a well-known Republican, facing opposition from a broad spectrum of governmental and civic leaders, provided Gus Hall, head of the Communist Party USA, a platform to address a university convocation.

My personal high came 40 years earlier, on Sept. 26, 1943, when the managing editor of The Register-Guard devoted a full Sunday editorial to a 13-page letter that I had written him in defense of my commitment not to "participate in war or sanction military preparations." The letter did not convert him to pacifism, but he commented on it respectfully and made no effort to have me run out of town. Contrary to a remonstrance from one of his readers, he afforded a pacifist a platform during the height of World War II.

Fast-forward 60 years. I founded Pacifica Forum in the mid-1990s and was its usual chairman and its main program planner. It was a program more than an organization. It was remarkably anarchic. It had no constitution, no bylaws, no membership, no dues, no treasury, no elected or appointed officers.

It had three sponsors, all more or less pacifistic, but it was not intended to convert attendants to pacifism. Its statement of purpose asserted that it would "provide information and points of view" regarding "war and peace, militarism and pacifism, violence and nonviolence."

Its objective was not so much to persuade as to inform. After it encountered efforts in 2003-04 to shut it down, it added, under the sponsorship of the Campus Civil Liberties Circle, another main objective: to exercise and defend freedom of speech.

Fast forward to 2006. At a talk on David Irving's recent imprisonment in Austria, his having been denied a platform in Portland during the 1990s, I met Valdas Anelauskas, a Lithuanian writer who had lived in the Soviet Union. I invited him to speak to Pacifica Forum on "Zionism in Russia." Finding his lectures well enough documented to deserve follow-ups, I invited him, over some resistance, to deliver what would turn out to be eight lectures on his general theme.

Jewish and other monitors attended the lectures and took a dim view of them. Some voiced the view, widespread in Eugene, that certain topics are so reprehensible that they should not be offered a public platform.

That view I cannot accept.

All the while, no Pacifica Forum attendant, including me, seemed to agree totally with Anelauskas, and one regular attendant and I delivered talks expressing points of view contrary to his.

Among attendants, I now encountered more resistance to booking him further.

By now, however, his appearances had become so intertwined with the basic issue of free speech that I decided to put that issue to an acid test: He would be invited to address Pacifica Forum, even though no attendant, particularly me, was likely to agree with everything he said.

The community passed the test: No one, not even the Anti-Hate Task Force, barred Anelauskas from entering the room. No one tried to shout him down. Campus security was not alerted. The campus newspaper carried a report the next day. The UO administration, perhaps remembering its president 43 years earlier, did not intervene.

Unfortunately, Anelauskas talked so long that he could not be questioned on the spot. Pacifica Forum will afford opportunity for questioning him to all who request it, and he can be reached at valdas@efn.org.

The Anelauskas test is hardly comparable with the Gus Hall test. The former was in macrocosm, the latter has been in microcosm.

Both, however, have the same essentials: unfettered opportunity to deliver a message not politically correct in much of the community, or even totally agreeable to the provider of the platform.

Stay tuned. Pacifica Forum will continue to meet on the ground floor in McKenzie Hall at 4 p.m. on Fridays. Members of the Anti-Hate Task Force, particularly, always will be welcome.

Orval Etter of Eugene (orvaletter @netscape.net) is the founder of Pacifica Forum.


  Holocaust critics persecuted

In his rather hysterical June 20 letter, Bob Bussel decries any questioning of Holocaust history as a “profound act of intellectual fraud and moral bankruptcy,” a “loathsome and repugnant monstrosity.”

British writer George Orwell said that “who controls the past, controls the future,” and our perception of past events alsoshapes the way we look at the world around us today. The Zionists understand this, and know that the story of the Holocaust is crucial to their power.

This is why such harsh measures are being exacted against those who ask too many questions. The Holocaust history seems so shaky that governments have to actually imprison people who openly question it.

Today, it’s becoming more like the new state religion and, as in the Inquisition, people are being locked up again for questioning even the smallest detail of dogma — no matter what the evidence, no matter what the conflicting testimony or history. Anyone who breaches this faith will be deemed a “Holocaust denier,” and punished accordingly.

Therefore, as I see it, the “standard” version of the Holocaust history simply cannot be trusted as long as they’re jailing or otherwise punishing those who question it. To make jail sentences be your response to critics is exactly the same as getting up on a rooftop and shouting as loud as you can for all to hear: “I am lying!” Is anyone supposed to believe someone who, in effect, proclaims in this way that he’s lying?

VALDAS ANELAUSKAS - July 5, 2008

 Critics of recent speeches fight forum with forum
By Jeff Wright
The Register-Guard
Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Critics are fighting a series of public forums they view as anti-Semitic by exercising their own freedom of speech - in the form of a paid newspaper ad and one or more public talks.

The Anti-Hate Task Force, a coalition of religious, social justice and government leaders, is seeking to counter a series of talks sponsored by the Pacifica Forum, a local discussion group founded by nonagenarian Orval Etter.

The forum in recent months has featured multiple talks on "Russia and Zionism" by Valdas Anelauskas, a native of Lithuania who describes himself as a "white separatist and racialist." In an October lecture that he dedicated to a Holocaust denier, Anelauskas asserted that Jews were largely responsible for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Task force members say they have raised more than $1,300 and collected more than 500 signatures for an ad they intend to place in The Register-Guard on Monday. The ad's signers say they "consider Pacifica Forum's concerted focus on demonizing Jews dangerous to our community" and believe "that when any one minority is targeted, we are all vulnerable."

advertisement The group also is working to bring one or more nationally recognized speakers on anti-Semitism to Eugene, perhaps in February, said task force member Michael Williams, who provided a copy of the ad text.

The task force, an offshoot of the Community Alliance of Lane County, is not interested in shutting down the Pacifica Forum, Williams said.

"This has never been about freedom of speech - it's about what kind of speech we want to encourage," he said. "That's what's being asked - that people turn their back on this kind of discussion and not support it."

Etter, a longtime Eugene pacifist, university professor and music patron, said the Pacifica Forum's critics are doing the logical thing in scheduling speakers of their own. He said the forum might look to do some counterprogramming itself with "anti-Zionist" speakers.

Etter said he considers Anelauskas' talks a test of Eugene's commitment to freedom of speech. "The community passed the test," Etter said in a published essay. "No one tried to shut him down."

The Pacifica Forum lectures are held on the University of Oregon campus. Etter likened Anelauskas' talks to the controversial talk delivered by Communist Party head Gus Hall at the UO in 1963. While the two differ greatly in scale, both represent an "unfettered opportunity to deliver a message (that's) not politically correct in much of the community," Etter said.

Etter said he doesn't know if Anelauskas will be invited to present future lectures. He said he needs more time to assess the negative reaction to Anelauskas' earlier talks - not from task force critics but from other Pacifica members.

Anelauskas said he has additional lectures to share if the forum decides to invite him. He said he is preparing to write a book about Zionism and Russia based on his lectures and research.

Anelauskas said he supports the task force bringing outside speakers to discuss anti-Semitism, and would like to participate. But he said he is less enthusiastic about the idea of a paid ad critiquing the forum.

"It's Christmas time so they could donate that money (for an ad) to some poor kids," he said. "This just shows how self-centered they are. They ask for donations for this kind of stupid thing."

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/12/06/f1.cr.pacifica.1206.p1.php

 Speaker reveals anti-Semitism

November 7, 2006

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/11/07/ed.letters.1107.p1.php?section=opinion

To continue the recent discussion of anti-Semitism in our own back yard (Register-Guard, Oct. 11 and Oct. 14), I am defining anti-Semitism as follows: stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes or behaviors that are derogatory or destructive to Jews.

When a group allows an avowed white nationalist and racialist, Valdas Anelauskas, to speak many times and at great length with little or no rebuttal or reaction, that is anti-Semitism. Why would Pacifica Forum allow him to speak even once?

Group members say, "We have to hear all sides." But Anelauskas has clearly said his family was hurt by Jews, he has a vendetta against the Jews and then goes on to describe Jews as the most despicable and dangerous people on the planet who do more harm than anyone else. This kind of black-and-white labeling of Jews as a whole is anti-Semitism in its most raw and virulent form.

A group that wants to hear this repeatedly and then responds with warmth for the speaker is promoting anti-Semitism. Pacifica Forum claims that Anelauskas' views do not necessarily represent the group as a whole. It is clear, however, that since they repeatedly invite Anelauskas to speak, he represents the anti-Semitism inherent in Pacifica Forum.

IRWIN NOPARSTAK

Eugene


 Pacifica lectures decried as anti-Semitic
by Jeff Wright

Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006

in The Register-Guard: http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/10/11/a1.pacifica.1011.p1.php?section=cityregion


 Noted Researcher Examines Zionist Power
Flashpoints — Pacifica Radio
November 1st, 2006

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article15494.htm

Hear an informative interview with, Dr. James Petras, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton University and author of the new book, The Power of Israel in the United States. Dr. Petras talks with the Flashpoints Investigative News Radio program on the power of the Israeli lobby in the United States, the Zionist forces behind the Iraq war, Zionist high crimes and double standards, their push toward war against Iran, and why he holds out optimism for the future. Runtime: 27 minutes -


 Conflict shows need to keep Israel secure
by Craig Weinerman
September 17, 2006

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/09/17/ed.col.weinerman.0917.p1.php?section=opinion

Here in Eugene our synagogue has been attacked twice in the past 12 years by men who adhere to a neo-Nazi philosophy. And we are concerned by the willingness of peace groups to embrace, under the guise of "anti-Zionism," classic anti-Semitic thinking such as the legitimacy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and the view that Jews have an objective to "control the world." This notion that Jews are responsible for all the ills of the world is the glue that holds the hate world together.

These events remind us why Israel needs to exist - and why it must be strong, safe and secure. We fervently hope that one day peace will come to the Middle East, but wonder whether that can happen as long as the radical Islamists not only reject Israel's right to exist but are determined to violently destroy Israel.


 Pacifica Forum targets Jews
by Hal M. Applebaum
November 12, 2006

I commend The Register-Guard for the article and editorial - Oct. 11 and 14 - regarding Pacifica Forum's shameful programming that consistently targets Jews and Israel.

The week of Nov. 9 marked the 68th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the "night of broken glass" when Jews were beaten to death, 30,000 Jewish men were taken to concentration camps and 1,668 synagogues were ransacked or set on fire. This nationwide pogrom in Germany and Austria marked a crucial turning point in German policy, changing the nature of persecution from economic, political and social to the physical forms such as beatings, murder and incarceration. As such, it is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust.

Sadly, on at least two occasions in years past, Pacifica Forum's Orval Etter uncritically presented Nazi apologist Ingrid Weckert's account of Kristallnacht, an account that essentially placed the blame for the pogrom on the Jews. In the presentation, the anti-Semitism of the Nazi movement was not mentioned as a precursor to Kristallnacht, only Jewish activities

Today, Pacifica Forum's warm embrace of self-described white nationalist and racialist Valdas Anelauskas is dangerous and frightening for this community, not only for Jews.

Since the only response to hate speech is more speech, I say in a loud and clear voice: Our community has no place for this kind of racism, intolerance and bigotry, and shame on those who organize and lend credence to these presentations.


  November 25, 2006
Pacifica Forum demonized

I've been reading with interest the criticisms leveled against the Pacifica Forum. While I accept that letter writers using the "Anti-Hate Task Force" moniker are driven by a power foreign to me, I think it prudent to mention the fact that the campaign being waged in The Register-Guard is perhaps more deserving of the community's monitoring than is a once-a-month lecture given forum attendees by Valdas Aneleskas.

In recent weeks, via the use of violent Mailbag letter headlines such as "Forum targets Jews" and "Forum foments hatred," hot-button canards such as "hate speech" and "racism" and through text peppered with other alarmist language, the task force has now succeeded in eliciting condemnations of Pacifica Forum from folks who've not even attended the forums they're writing about.

I first found the forum via the corporate media's refusal to cover the Downing Street Memos and have attended many of its weekly sessions. It is the only circle I have found where one can explore current events in a group devoid of hidden agendas.

Aneleskas has been the speaker at one forum per month since last May. His sourcing has been impeccable, predominantly using documentation from authors who are themselves Jewish. Often the actual book is offered, always the page number, author and title. Task force members have never challenged his documentation, evidently preferring to work through The Register-Guard's readers.

The series culminates soon. We will be exploring the neo-cons' roots as Trotskyites. As always, all are welcome.

DAWN COSLOW


xx yy

  Foes target Pacifica Forum
By Jeff Wright
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Register-Guard

Critics of a speaker widely viewed as one of the nation’s most prominent deniers of the Holocaust say they will counter his talk in Eugene on Friday with a competing event and a later symposium.

Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, will speak on “The Israel Lobby.” His visit comes at the invitation of the Pacifica Forum, a local discussion group founded by retired University of Oregon professor Orval Etter.

Weber, a historian who grew up in Portland, describes himself as a Holocaust revisionist. But detractors point to Weber’s own writings in labeling him a white supremacist, racist and anti-Semite.

“People may think I’m wrong or I’m right, but they should have a chance to hear what I have to say,” Weber said in a telephone interview from his institute’s office in Newport Beach, Calif.

Local critics affiliated with Community Alliance of Lane County have scheduled a free speech vigil to be held just outside the UO hall where Weber will speak. “We are operating under the theory that the best response to hate speech is more speech,” volunteer Michael Williams said. “We want an opportunity for the community to show its opposition to the kinds of things that Mark Weber stands for.”

Williams said opponents don’t plan to shout slogans or prevent people from hearing Weber’s talk. “We will have a presence that is unavoidable but not obstructionist.”

David Frank, a professor in the Honors College at the UO, said he and two faculty members are planning a Holocaust symposium in response to Weber’s talk.

Weber “has the right to come to campus and make preposterous statements,” Frank said. “But we have a responsibility as scholars to demonstrate the expertise and research that shows his claims are not only false but dangerous.”

Weber’s speech is not the first to draw charges of anti-Semitism against the Pacifica Forum, which last year sponsored multiple talks by Valdas Anelauskas, a resident of Eugene and native of Lithuania who describes himself as a journalist, researcher and “white separatist and racialist.” Anelauskas dedicated one of his lectures to a Holocaust denier.

Critics responded by buying a newspaper ad denouncing such ideas, and by giving several public talks on anti-Semitism — including one at the Pacifica Forum itself.

Etter and other forum members have complained that anyone who sharply criticizes Israeli politics is automatically defamed as anti-Semitic.

Forum critics have said it’s not critiques on policy, but Jewish stereotypes and historical revisionism that cross the line into anti-Semitism.

Etter said he has long been impressed with the Institute of Historical Research’s work, and that he and other forum members decided several months ago to invite Weber.

Weber’s institute “has been battling Israel and the Jews for a long time,” Etter said. “They sort of lead the parade against those who say any extensive criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.”

Etter said he welcomes the controversy sparked by Weber’s appearance because it will “improve understanding in this community about what’s been going on for a long time in regard to Israel and the Israeli lobby .... This will be another pinnacle of free speech.”

The forum has access to UO space because he and forum colleague George Beres are former UO employees, Etter said.

Weber said his talk will focus on contemporary U.S.-Israeli policies, not historical events. He said he doesn’t discount that many Jews perished in concentration camps at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II, but said the number cited by historians of 6 million or more “is certainly too high.”

He questioned, for example, whether Anne Frank of diary fame should be counted as a Holocaust victim, since she died of typhus rather than at the direct hands of German soldiers in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Weber said it’s “probably” true that his critique of Israeli political power would carry more credence if he didn’t also challenge history’s understanding of the Holocaust. “But I see the two as connected.”

In one of its brochures, Weber’s institute says that “the ‘Holocaust’ campaign is a major weapon in the Jewish-Zionist arsenal. It is used to justify otherwise unjustifiable Israeli policies, and to extort enormous sums of money.”

Weber has been tied to the neo-Nazi National Alliance, an affiliation he downplays. In court testimony, however, he has acknowledged once serving as news editor of the alliance’s National Vanguard publication. In 2002, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., identified Weber as one of “40 to Watch” among key activists of the radical right.

Local critic Williams said the Pacifica Forum’s decision to invite Weber is deeply troubling. “This is a major escalation,” Williams said. “He is the No. 1 Holocaust denier; he has international status.”

David Luebke, an associate professor of history at the UO, is among the faculty planning next month’s symposium on the Holocaust. Luebke worked for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., from 1989 to 1993, and has taught classes on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

Luebke said Weber practices “a pretty sophisticated form” of Holocaust denial in which historians’ evolving understanding about the event is selectively scoured for information that can be used to minimize or question the reality of the genocide.

“There’s debate in good faith among historians about what it all means,” Luebke said of the Holocaust. “But we tend not to disagree on the overwhelming positive confirming evidence, including from the people who perpetrated it.”


 Orval's letter to the R-G Editorial Board:
November 06, 2006

In a letter with innuendos of having attended many sessions of Pacifica Forum, Libby Bottero charges PF with an array of "chilling ... blatant lies." We undersigned attendants at numerous PF sessions do not recognize her as a frequent fellow attendant. If she has been such, she has rarely or never identified herself as such, and none of the undersigned could pick her out of a line-up. If, moreover, she actually heard the "chilling," "blatant lies," why did she not challenge them on the spot?

The charge of repeated lying is serious. As the R-G perhaps knows better than we, in the law of defamation a fundamental distinction has long been drawn between assertions of opinion and assertions of fact. The charge of repeated lying falls in the latter category.

We attendants have not heard PF engage in such lying. We regard her accusation as having no foundation in fact. Unless she can substantiate the accusation as factual, we request that she and the R-G publish, with appropriate prominence, a retraction of the accusation.

Thank you.

Orval Etter, 3080 Potter, Eugene OR 97405 - orvaletter@netscape.net


Pacifica Forum member shouldn't be absolved of blame using 'free speech' excuse
May 2, 2008

Your article on the Pacifica Forum ("Comment on Emerald Web site brings attention to Pacifica Forum," ODE Apr. 28) gave Orville Etter another opportunity to falsely drape himself in the cloak of free speech. Etter often states that the invitation to self-admitted anti-Semite and racist Valdas Anelauskas was simply a test of tolerance, and that many Forum members find his views offensive. What Etter fails to acknowledge or explain is that the Forum subjected itself to this test not once, or twice, but eight times! From May through November of 2006 Anelauskas was invited to give a series of lectures, ostensibly on Zionism, which were then posted on the Pacifica Forum web site. Amidst the ramble about how Jews are set to control the world are such gems as "after many years of my experience and research I came to conclusion [sic] that among the Jews, for some reason, there is a much larger percentage of bad people than among others." (cited from the May 12, 2006 lecture "Zionism and Russia - Lecture 1" on the Pacifica Web site). Somehow Etter, George Beres and their cronies were not satisfied with this test of free speech, but felt compelled to repeat it over and over again. Whether it's indulging a local anti-Semite while claiming innocence or bringing in Holocaust-denying ringers from out of town, the leadership of the Pacifica Forum has a consistent pattern of demonizing Jews, whether directly or through exaggerated focus on and criticism of Israel. I, like many in the campus and broader community, am a supporter of free speech and a responsible critic of some of Israel's policies, but Etter and Anelauskas are beyond the pale of responsible free speech. Bigots are bigots, despite their protestations and claims of victimization.

Shaul Cohen
Co-Director, Peace Studies Program






bottom

  Register-Guard
February 1, 2007
Pacifica Forum's critics onstage

The topic offered by the Rev. Dan Bryant and Michael Williams is to the point: "Are Pacifica Forum Programs Anti- Semitic?"

Bryant and Williams are members of the Anti-Hate Task Force, a coalition of religious and social justice leaders that emerged last fall in response to some of the programs offered by Pacifica Forum.

R-G article Feb 1, 2007
 

  Register-Guard
April 18, 2008 Frohnmayer denounces ‘gutter bigotry’ at forums

 

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