Rice’s speech would contradict its effort toward civil rights

On April 17, Condoleezza Rice will be speaking at Northrop Auditorium as the 2014 Distinguished Carlson Lecturer. She will be speaking on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the subject of civil rights. The Humphrey School of Public Affairs describes her speech as an effort to recognize “her effort to foster freedom and democracy.”

Many people on campus and in the community might laugh at such a strange statement, as if it were an Onion headline from 2005. This is no joke, and most people aware of her visit agree Rice is a terrible choice to speak on civil rights or “freedom and democracy.”

Any student of recent history can recall that, under her leadership as secretary of state and national security adviser, the United States has been accused of committing widespread crimes against humanity. These accusations include, but are not limited to, an illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and the systematic torture of thousands of people.

In response to her visit, many are rallying to call for her invitation to be revoked and, if not, to rally to remind her of her role in these crimes. These efforts include the University of Minnesota Faculty Senate debating a resolution of rescinding the invitation and students and community groups actively organizing a rally.

It is with this encouragement for civil dialogue that Students for a Democratic Society is calling upon students and community members to join us to welcome Rice with a clear statement that accused war criminals are not welcome on our campus. We call upon people to help Rice remember that she is not distinguished by history as anything other than an accused war criminal. We further call for people to remind her of the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay during her leadership.