SDCC cancels investiture of chancellor due to uproar over Alice Walker speech – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted By on May 25, 2022

The San Diego Community College District on Monday canceled its upcoming investiture ceremony for Chancellor Carlos Cortez due to a controversy over the controversial positions of keynote speaker Alice Walker, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Color Purple.

The investiture, a public celebration of a new chancellor taking office, was scheduled to take place at Petco Park on May 31. The district said that about 1,000 people had made reservations to attend the ceremony.

Over the past few weeks, concerns have been expressed about the political beliefs and writings of the investiture keynote speaker, Alice Walker, Cortez said in a statement. At the same time, others have expressed their support of Ms. Walker. As a district that celebrates inclusion, we believe the best way forward would be to cancel the event altogether.

I apologize for the pain caused to any member of our community. The investiture scheduled for May 31 will not be held.

Cortez, reached late Monday at a family event in Florida, declined to discuss the matter with the Union-Tribune.

Some members of the districts faculty and figures in San Diegos Jewish community have objected to the Walker booking, saying that she had publicly supported a fellow writer who made false, demeaning remarks about Jewish people.

They were referring to David Icke, an author and conspiracy theorist. He wrote And the Truth Shall Set You Free, a 1995 book that says, in one passage, I strongly believe that a small Jewish clique which has contempt for the mass of Jewish people worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War.

They then dominated the Versailles Peace Conference and created the circumstances which made the Second World War inevitable. They financed Hitler to power in 1933 and made the funds available for his rearmament.

Inna Glaz Kanevsky, a psychology professor at San Diego Mesa College, which is part of the district, told Cortez in an email in early May: To date, I still have not seen you make any acknowledgement of Ms. Alice Walker(s) vocal and proud endorsement of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including a poem she wrote and posted on her website.

That poem is violently antisemitic in its own right, rooted in the ideas that led to countless pogroms, synagogue shootings, and acts of vandalism.

This, by the way, is not about her criticism of Israel and support of Palestinians. Her antisemitism is entangled in her advocacy, but is a separate issue nevertheless and an issue you still refuse to address publicly.

Walker, who is 78, has steadfastly and publicly denied that she is antisemitic.

The cancellation of the investiture represents a stark turnaround for the district, which said in a statement in early May, "(She) is a Pulitzer prize-winning author and her participation is consistent with the Districts support of the free exchange of ideas and opinions.

This does not mean the District agrees with every statement made by her now or in the past. Walker is a source of inspiration for many in the community. This includes chancellor Carlos Cortez, who says Walker played a key role in his decision to focus his academic studies on African American feminist political history.

The cancelation drew praise Monday from Peter Levi of the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL commends Chancellor Cortez for cancelling the investiture, said Levi, who is representing San Diego County on an interim basis. A speaker should bring people together, not divide and alienate a community.

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SDCC cancels investiture of chancellor due to uproar over Alice Walker speech - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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