Friday, May 7, 2010

Smith speaks at Cal State University--Fullerton

Yesterday I spoke to a modest room of students, professors and perhaps some press at Cal State University-Fullerton, California. Fullerton is in Orange County near Disneyland. It’s grown into a more upscale town than I remember from the 1940s. I titled the talk The Student Newspaper and the Question of Taboo.

The text focused on The Irrational Vocabulary of the Professorial Class, the talk I gave in Tehran at the Holocaust Conference there in December 2006, and on the language used by academics in responding to revisionist provocations at U Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern U (twice), and Cal State Fullerton itself.

The decision to talk at Fullerton came up at the last minute, as it were. We had been running an ad in the online edition of the Daily Titan, the paper decided to pull it gave their reasons here. At the same time we were inserting ads in student newspaper on other campuses, which in turn were being suppressed.

Hernandez telephoned the Executive Editor of the Titan, Sergio Cabaruvias, to find out what he could about the story. Cabaruvias didn’t really want to talk, but it was our understanding that in the editorial meetings that took place to decide what to do about this revisionist ad, the faculty advisor was present, among others. We presumed he was “advising” in the manner that American faculty advisors advise with regard to a free exchange of ideas about the Holocaust story. Put a stop to it!

I’m trying to nail down in my mind the exact moment when I made the decision to go to CSU-Fullerton. I can’t put my finger on it. We had the beginning of a story. We were being suppressed in the routine way that we are suppressed campus newspapers (to say nothing of the off-campus press). The academic year was ending and soon students would be on summer break and the moment would pass. There was the fact that the Fullerton campus is only 120 miles from where we live here in Baja.

Odd. I don’t really know what made me decide to go. All of the above, and probably something in the moment itself. I like to be able to identify these little moments of decision, the environment of the moment. This time I cannot. Maybe it will come to me.

Anyhow, on the evening of the 5th Hernandez and I drove north across the border to Fullerton, stayed the night, and the next afternoon we went to the University. There was one story on the front page of the Daily Titan featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and another featuring Bradley Smith. I spoke for 35-40 minutes, so there was time for a Q&A. What occurred then was surprising.

I’ll write this all up for Smith’s Report, which was scheduled to go to the printer tomorrow, a deadline I will not be able to meet. But ASAP.

1 comment:

Xyzlmk said...

Excellent. You should show up whenever possible. Also, I think you should try to identify the professors on campus who teach holocaust related courses, and call them out by name, preferably before the event, to give the name of one Auschwitz gas chamber victim, for example.