Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Protesters Prompt Kissinger to Cancel

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger abruptly canceled a lecture scheduled today after being informed by the university that student protesters were planning on distributing placards that called Kissinger a “baby-killer” and “murderer.”

The Department of Public Safety had informed Kissinger’s office about protests planned by GU Peace Action, a student group formed last year in opposition to the Iraq War. Representatives of the student group denied that the group was sponsoring any disruptive activities but said that individual students might have been planning more disruptive tactics independently.

Gloria Lacap, director of protocol and events, and David orrell, vice president for university safety, were unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon.

Ambassador Howard Schaffer, deputy director for the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, which had sponsored the lecture, said that the Kissinger’s office canceled the event when they learned that students would be protesting inside Gaston Hall.

“Since all students get in with their GOCard, there’s no way to tell who might be bringing in something that could disrupt the event,” Schaffer said.

But GU Peace Action said that they had not planned anything that would have disrupted the event inside Gaston Hall. Instead, they said they had wanted to inform students about Kissinger and use the speech as an opportunity to engage the campus in a debate about U.S. foreign policy.

“We were going to have a professor in Red Square after the speech and we were going to be distributing more info in Red Square after the speech,” Sasha Kinney (SFS ’06) said.

Ruthie Coffman (SFS ’06) said that students were planning on asking Kissinger questions but that GU Peace Action had not planned anything that would be disruptive or disrespectful.

Ambassador Stapleton Roy, the managing director for Kissinger Associates, Inc., said that Kissinger had accepted the invitation to speak for the 25th anniversary of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in honor of Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, the ISD’s first board chair.

“Dr. Kissinger accepted an invitation to speak in the spirit of Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker through a free exchange of ideas in an academic context on a complex chapter in American history,” Roy said. “Unfortunately, circumstances arose that seemed to make such a free exchange impossible and therefore destroyed the purpose of his visit.”

Jady Hsin, president of the College Republicans, said he was disappointed to hear that the speech had been canceled due to the possible protests.

“This is more telling of the lack of courtesy that liberal partisans ever afford to speakers,” Hsin said. “Kissinger has served the United States admirably and has a remarkable career in public service.”

Students have grilled national leaders at other speeches this year, including one by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Schaffer, who said he had helped plan that event, said that asking pressing questions or protesting outside the building was different from disrupting the event with placards or a banner, like one which students had unfurled during the Wolfowitz event.

“We walk a fine line between the freedom of expression and the power to disrupt an event,” he said. “My own personal view is that it is a sad day when a group of student protesters make it impossible for a major statesman of the 20th century to come to Georgetown.”

But Coffman questioned the university for bringing individuals like Kissinger to speak.

“He’s a war criminal,” she said. “Why should people invite people him to speak?”

She also said that Peace Action would not remain deterred by Kissinger’s cancellation when future speakers come to campus.

“Leaders should not expect anything disrespectful,” she said. “But we’re not going to give them a free ride once they get here.”

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