Pacifica Forum Gives a Platform to Anti-Semites and Holocaust Deniers
Posted: September 15, 2008
Updated: January 22, 2010
The Pacifica Forum, an independent group formed by a retired professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, holds regular meetings on the school's campus, which feature lectures by anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.
In January 2010, after a series of protests by students, the university announced that the Pacifica Forum would not be able to hold its meetings in a room in the university's student union for the remainder of the year. (The use of a room in the building had become a principal complaint made by many students, who said the Forum's presence made them feel unsafe.)
A month earlier, in December, 2009, university administrators had decided to rethink their policies toward the group after speaker Jimmy Marr gave a presentation, entitled "The National Socialist Movement: An Inside View of America's Far-Right.," Members of the Pacifica Forum reportedly gave Nazi salutes during the meeting and, according to a member of Eugene's Anti-Hate Task Force, Marr expressed the view that white DNA is not being sufficiently protected. Marr is a regular participant in Pacifica Forum meetings. In January 2008 he spoke to the group on Martin Luther King Jr., reportedly calling King a "moral leper and communist dupe."
After the December 2009 event, a letter from the university's Vice President of Institutional Equity and Diversity Charles Martinez appeared in the Eugene Weekly, a local paper. In the letter, Martinez said that he had attended the event and confirmed that Marr made anti-Semitic statements and "glorified neo-Nazi principles." Martinez also wrote that the university is "addressing our policies about how best to proceed with our mission and values while safeguarding the campus community and the values of free speech," but did not offer any specifics on what policy changes toward the Pacifica Forum the university might implement. Other than announcing that the Pacifica Forum can no longer use the student union room, administrators have yet to come up with new policies regarding the group.
In 2008, the Pacifica Forum was the subject of much debate and scrutiny in the community. Dave Frohnmayer, the president of the University of Oregon, has strongly criticized the group, saying it does not in any way speak for the university. However, as of mid-January 2010 he had not taken any action to prevent its meetings.
In June 2008, the group hosted Tomislav Sunic, a former Croatian diplomat and the author of the anti-Semitic book Homo Americanus: Child of the Post-Modern Age, which argues that "Americanism," heavily influenced by Judaism, undermines traditional European morality. Kevin MacDonald, an anti-Semitic professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, wrote the foreword to the book. A few days before his appearance at the Forum, Sunic spoke in Alabama at the national conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group. Sunic also attended the February 2008 conference of American Renaissance, another white supremacist group, which was held in Virginia.
In June 2008, the Pacifica Forum also invited David Irving, the well-known British Holocaust denier, to address the group. In November 2007, the group hosted Mark Weber, the head of the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust denial organization based in California. The flyer for the Weber event, which remains posted to the Forum's Web site, is itself anti-Semitic. It portrays the Star of David as a hostile snake under the words "Free speech vs. Zionist power." The flyer also mentions the power of "The Israel Lobby," alluding to the anti-Semitic canard that Jews control the American government for the benefit of Israel.
The Pacifica Forum's Web site also features ads for a variety of books with that same theme, including The Power of Israel in the United States by James Petras, a left-wing professor who has promoted anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories; The Israel Lobby by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer; and Persecution, Privilege, and Power, edited by anti-Semitic writer Mark Green, which contains an essay by Kevin MacDonald. The Web site also advertises 9/11 conspiracy theory books.
Orval Etter, a retired professor in Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the university is the head of the Pacifica Forum. He started the group in 1994, reportedly after becoming "convinced that Israel was a very tyrannical state." He has also called Israeli treatment of Arabs a "holocaust." Etter claims that the group hosted Weber and Irving as part of its "commitment to make people better informed" and that he is protecting free speech by inviting controversial figures to speak.
Another regular member of the group Valdas Anelauskas has reportedly made anti-Semitic comments at Pacifica Forum meetings. He posted a comment on the Web site of the university's student newspaper in February 2008 in which he wrote that a pro-Iraq war column written by a student could only have been written by a Jew because "only from people of that peculiar tribe can we expect such Talmudic hatred for humanity. There is even a famous saying that wars are the Jews' harvest." Editors of the newspaper ultimately removed the post from the Web site because they deemed it to be "hate speech." In 2006, Anelauskas also gave a series of lectures to the group on Zionism and Russia that some attendees said were anti-Semitic. He has allegedly referred to himself as a "white separatist and racialist."
In March 2008, Frohnmayer criticized the Pacifica Forum in a public letter that referred to the group's discussions and events as "gutter bigotry" and said that Anelauskas's comments attacking a student were anti-Semitic. Frohnmayer wrote that "groups such as this that use university facilities from time to time do not speak for the University of Oregon" and that their presence should not be construed as evidence of "moral indifference" on the part of the university.
In response to Anelauskas's series of lectures on Zionism in 2006, the local Community Alliance of Lane County formed an Anti-Hate Task Force to monitor the Pacifica Forum. The University of Oregon Hillel, a Jewish student organization, has also been active in speaking out against the group.