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Universities Need to Look in the Mirror By: Michael Tremoglie
The Bulletin | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rutgers University and the Rutgers University's women's basketball team were understandably outraged by the comments made about them by Don Imus.

However, Rutgers, the state of New Jersey and universities in general have long been complicit in promoting racism and bigotry.

Beginning in 2002, a former Rutgers University English professor (and alumnus) was designated the poet laureate of New Jersey. His name - Amiri Baraka.

Baraka has also taught at Yale, George Washington University and other distinguished academic institutions. He is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he was a professor of Africana studies.

He has been the recipient of numerous honors during his career. Among his other awards are the Obie (an award for Off-Broadway plays bestowed by the The Village Voice, in New York), the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants.

Why is Baraka such a distinguished person? He is considered a profound thinker, poet, polemicist and scholar.

An example of his profound thinking was a 1965 essay in which Baraka wrote, "Most American white men are trained to be fags. For this reason it is no wonder their faces are weak and blank. ... The average ofay [white person] thinks of the black man as potentially raping every white lady in sight. Which is true, in the sense that the black man should want to rob the white man of everything he has. But for most whites the guilt of the robbery is the guilt of rape. That is, they know in their deepest hearts that they should be robbed, and the white woman understands that only in the rape sequence is she likely to get cleanly, viciously popped."

Another example of his polemics is a statement he made in 1970 from a documentary introducing the first modern Pan-African Congress in Atlanta, "the Zionists control the radio, the television, the movies, the education, the intellectual life of the United States, the morality of the United States-Judeo-Christian ethics. The minute you condemn them publicly, you die. They will declare a war on you forever."

Still another example of his thinking is a 1980 Village Voice article where he wrote, "Zionism is a form of racism. It is a political ideology that hides behind the Jewish religion and the Jewish people, while performing its negative tasks for imperialism. A favorite game of Zionists is to drop the label 'anti-Semitic' on anyone who opposes Zionism or upholds the Palestinians' right of self-determination ... . For here is a people with the murders of millions of their brothers and sisters still fresh in their memories who now function as imperialist watchdogs in the Middle East!"

However, Baraka's piece de resistance was his 2002 epic poem "Somebody Blew Up America" where he asks the question:

" Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away"

A devout communist, Baraka was also a guest of Hugo Chavez in 2004.

This is the person who was appointed poet laureate of New Jersey. Eventually, the governor of New Jersey did abolish the position after receiving complaints about the appointment of Baraka, who sued to have it restored. The suit was recently dismissed.

Baraka may no longer be welcome as New Jersey's poet laureate; however, he is still a welcome guest on college and university campuses across the United States. He frequently makes the college lecture circuit. Recently, he appeared at UCLA, CA St. Long Beach and Florida State University.

What are the chances they will invite Don Imus?

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Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.

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