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Posted on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

University of Michigan withdraws author Alice Walker's speakership invitation

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan invited "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker to speak at an event and then rescinded the invitation, although the reason isn't clear.


Alice Walker

AP Photo

On her blog, Walker said her agent was told a U-M donor objected to her speaking at the Center for the Education for Women's 50th anniversary event because of her outspoken views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

However, center director Gloria D.Thomas denied that donors had any bearing on the decision.

In an apology posted on the center's website, Thomas said she did not think Walker was the best choice for the celebratory event, scheduled for early 2014. She said the center is open to co-sponsoring a lecture by Walker at a later date.

Thomas wrote:

"I want to apologize for how we handled our invitation to author Alice Walker to speak to the Center for the Education of Women.

Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event.

Donors had no bearing on this decision. Our 50th anniversary funding is completely assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech.

As we move forward, I do hope that we will be able to co-sponsor a lecture by Ms. Walker, where the forum would be focused on a more substantial discussion of human rights issues."

A representative of the center did not immediately return a request for comment.

In her blog, Walker posted a letter from her agent that told a different version of events, saying donors had threatened to remove funding because of Walker's views.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 1 p.m.

@cindi1: You say: "The brutal and violent zionist "project" in Palestine began in the 1920's, and as one writer stated, Palestinians are the most mistreated population on the planet, and steadily getting worse." Here's how Hamas treats women and gays: "Gaza Marathon Canceled After Hamas Bans Women From Participating" "In 2009, Hamas banned girls from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing.[8]...In 2010, Hamas banned the smoking of hookah by women in public, stating that it was to reduce the increasing number of divorces." "Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home, segregation from men and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn 'just to avoid problems on the streets'" "Gay people have no equality under Hamas' government. In fact they have no rights at all, as their relationships are not even recognized. There is no allowance for them in law, for example in terms of adoption, and there exist no anti-discrimination laws in place to protect them. More over, it is their government alone which seeks to discriminate against them. The punishment for homosexuality in Gaza is severe, with men potentially having to spend ten years in jail as a result of their sexuality."


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

Excerpt from Rebecca Walker's How My Mother's Fanatical Feminist Views Tore Us Apart: "My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution. . . I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations." "My mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale." "In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late." Is this what the CEW wants to hear? Rebecca Walker, by the way, is an accomplished author and Yale graduate whose books are highly recommended.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

"On BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs Alice Walker said that Icke's Human Race Get Off Your Knees would be her choice if she could have only one book. (May 2013) A post on her personal blog entitled "Human Race Get Off Your Knees: I couldn't have put it better myself." She called it "amazing," "stunning," "magical," "profound" and "the ultimate reading adventure." Indeed, it "was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet...David Icke reminded me of Malcolm X, especially Malcolm X's quality of "fearlessness." David Ickes is the fearless author who exposed the "Babylonian Brotherhood," as secret society of inter-dimensional lizards who take human form (e.g. Queen Elizabeth and Bob Hope) and operate through the CIA, the Mossad, as well as, a bunch of companies, NGOs, and media organizations. He has exposed the "the Rothschild-Zionist network" and its "satanic black magicians" as engineers of the rise of Hitler and Stalin, as well as the assassination of Lincoln."


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

"Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event." Pardon me, but doesn't one "research" a speaker before inviting them to a high profile event? I don't believe Ms. Thomas for one minute. This is unprofessional and frankly, tacky to revoke an invitation to such a high profile person.

Rahim Moosa

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

Dear All: For what it's worth, I had never heard of David Icke. So I checked out: and it is clearly anti-semitic (expresses a hatred of the Jewish people and so called Jewish "mindset" not just the behavior of Israel) and done with a tone of voice that is sickening and brings tears to my eyes. The question is: does Alice Walker subscribe to such ideas? She said on a BBC interview among other things that she likes Metta (Compassion) Chant and would take David Icke's "Knees" book if stranded on an island. Does that make her anti-semitic? I'll now have to read her "Cushion" book to find out. Or someone who has read it can spare me the trouble by directly quoting from it.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

AnnArbor28, You might be interested in taking a look at: to understand the issues you raise. The brutal and violent zionist "project" in Palestine began in the 1920's, and as one writer stated, Palestinians are the most mistreated population on the planet, and steadily getting worse.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

Ms. Walker is concerned about Israel, but visits Gaza where there are religious police who patrol to make sure that women are wearing burkas, and not violating other restrictions. In 2013, UNRWA canceled its annual marathon in Gaza after Hamas rulers prohibited women from participating in the race. Article from the Telegrapah: Hamas orders schools in Gaza to be segregated by gender Palestinian girls over the age of nine must not be educated by men or alongside boys in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas ministry of education announced on Monday. Ms. Walker has refused to let an Israeli publishing house translate her books into Hebrew, and has been organizing a performers' boycott of Israel. She, as a radical feminist, however, endorses Hamas, which greatly restricts women, such as not allowing them to ride bikes, dance, play music, or read certain books. "The punishment for homosexuality in Gaza is severe, with men potentially having to spend ten years in jail as a result of their sexuality." However, Ms. Walker has no objection to this policy in Gaza, enforced by Hamas. Ms. Walker vehemently denigrates Israel and supports the Gaza government. Her support of the restriction of women in Gaza and of the lack of gay rights goes against what many UM students and alums stand for.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

It would be funny of Obama weighed in on this and said the university acted stupidly.

Eduard Copely

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Well, they didn't. So he won't.

Michigan Man

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Cool - Maybe POTUS will misread the tele-prompter and we all can then attend a beer summit in Ann Arbor.

Colorado Sun

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Back in the 1980s the reverse would have happened. In 1989 U-M President James Duderstadt withdrew his appearance, as did many other prominent educators, pursuant to an invitation made by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to its Tree of Life annual award dinner, after local Arab-American and civil rights activists expressed outrage that the JNF enforced restrictive covenants baring non-Jews from living or working on land it purchased. That 1989 event drew some 160 demonstrators and counter-demonstrators. The State of Israel clearly violates norms of what Americans would consider acceptable governmental behavior by having Arabs operate their vehicles with different license plates, Jews-only roads and limiting public assistance availability to those whose families have Israeli armed forces service - effectively excluding most Arab families.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

"Walker said her agent was told a U-M donor objected to her speaking at the Center for the Education for Women's 50th anniversary event because of her outspoken views on the Israel-Palestine conflict." If this is the case, then UM is no longer an institution of higher learning that embraces all points of view. When donors call the shots on something like this, it's a very bad sign. I would not expect UM to admit this happened and I personally would tend to believe the author.

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

More to the story available here:


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 5:33 a.m.

Pathetic that people are so fearful to be challenged to think beyond their safe and secure set of opinions and values. Shameful, really. This community is becoming much too brittle for my taste.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

I remember the good old days when the left would threaten to riot if someone from the right of center dared speak on campus.

Michigan Man

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

The times they are a changing in Ann Arbor!


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

Having taken the time to search out the transcripts for a couple of speeches and listened to a couple of interviews she has given (including the BBC one), I have a couple of comments. She is well informed, opinionated and straight forward. She would make a wonderful person to invite to a policy forum, a debate, or a political gathering. She is frankly amazing. On the other hand, I see nothing light and celebratory in any of the material I can find on line. I suspect that if you want a witty, light, entertaining short presentation that Ms. Walker would be wasted in the role. If it is indeed that light, witty, short presentation that the CEW want, then Ms. Walker would have been a poor fit for the role. I would buy a ticket to an event in the Power Center where she was given freedom to craft a presentation on her views and policy. While I might or might not agree with her, she would force be to think hard, which is always a good thing.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

Perhaps Bill Ayres can be a last minute substitue? How about Michael Moore? He is great at hosting black tie left wing evets.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

In case you haven't noticed, assisting and advocating for women IS a left-wing thing these days. Sad but true.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

In case you have not noticed, the University of Michigan is a left wing organization and one of the most politically correct bastions on the planet.

Jaime Magiera

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

The Center for the Education of Women is not left wing. It's an organization to assist and advocate for all women. They do important work for women, which in turn is important for the rest of society, including yourself.

Rahim Moosa

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Alice Walker has spoken up against the ill treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. This ill treatment includes a policy of ethnic cleansing in 1948, the occupation and colonization of the West Bank since 1967 together with a system of roads for settlers and check-points in a system that can be called apartheid, the killing of white flag carrying civilians in the operation cast lead. The Palestinians in the West Bank have recently pursued a path of non-violence yet Israel continues its ill treatment. Why? For the last few years and for the West Bank the party at fault is clearly Israel. For Gaza in recent years, the Palestinians are to blame for rocket attacks and Israel for indiscriminate killing of civilians. If I have said anything incorrect please correct me.

Jaime Magiera

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Here is today's statement from Provost Martha Pollack... In the end, I guess this is the best they can do to remedy the situation. As such, folks should make an attempt to attend this event when it does get scheduled (assuming Walker accepts). As the provost points out "the best response to challenging discourse is more discourse". OK? Lets move forward.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

I, too, am ashamed of my alma mater and former employer.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

Perfect example of when it is stated it is "not about the money". "It IS about the money" And as an earlier commenter noted, donation concerns on the other side of the issue might have the impact of reinforcing the conceot about freedom of speech especially in a University setting.

Thom in Ann Arbor

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

Everything the U says and does--just like corporate America--comes with the unexpressed footnote, " long as it doesn't affect the bottom line." Remeber the stadium debacle from a few years ago? Paying an architect a ton of money to come up with a circus-like "halo" design that was nearly universally hated? The U stood behind their choices until--guess what--some big donors said they would stop writing checks! Amazing how quickly they changed their minds when some $$$'s were at risk! With this as just one example of how the U is willing to sacrifice its principles for the sake of the Almighty Dollar, it is so much easier to believe Ms. Walker's agent's version of events than Ms. Thomas's. I, too, am ashamed of my alma mater and former employer.

Michigan Man

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Thom - I happen to like big bank accounts - if you think your bank account is too large - hand it off to Michigan Man. Deal?

Atlas Shrugged

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

Per a recent e-mail from the U's Provost: "Consistent with the university's commitment to free speech,I am pleased to report that the CEW and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies are joining together to extend an invitation to Ms. Walker to speak in a public forum on campus." Ms. Walker will now be welcomed here, perhaps to spew her antisemitic vitriol.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

And the long arm of Zionism reaches out once again.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

would you please do a little research into who Alice Walker is, and her views on motherhood, which is that it is despicable? That is what makes her so hated, even by her own daughter, who doesn't speak with her.

AA Neighbor

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

CEW Leadership Council (public information from CEW website) Tiffany Ford, Detroit, MI Lee Gorman, Ann Arbor, MI Susan S. Gutow, Ann Arbor, MI Margaret Kephart, Ann Arbor, MI Constance M. Kinnear, Ann Arbor, MI Rani Kotha, Ann Arbor, MI Rebecca McGowan, Ann Arbor, MI Robert D. Oliver, Ann Arbor, MI Ann Sneed Schriber, Ann Arbor, MI Don Vereen, Ann Arbor, MI Marina v. N. Whitman, Ann Arbor, MI The CEW Emeritae Council honors all those who have served on the Leadership Council, helping the Center to become what we are today. The Emertiae Council includes: Menakka M. Bailey; Lisa Baker; Nancy Barbour; Norma C. Barfield; Ellen M. Byerlein; Jean W. Campbell; Lois P. Cohn; Desma Reid-Coleman; Julie F. Cummings; Martha Meier Dean; Anthony Derezinski; Molly H. Dobson; Anne Duderstadt; Susan S. Florsheim; Twink Frey; Beverly Geltner; Matina Souretis Horner; Judith H. Lax; Anne E. Lehker; Ashley M. Maentz; William Martin; Rebecca McGowan; Ann V. Parfet; Lana B. Pollack; Kathleen K. Power; Ranny Riecker; Karla Scherer; Martha R. Seger; Carol S. Smokler; Maxine J. Snider; Nellie M. Varner; Erica A. Ward; Irma Wyman

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

No Washingtons, Jeffersons, Smiths, or Williams to be found.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Yes, perfectly understandable, Ms. Gloria D. Thomas. Who here does not frequently invite guests to an event we've planned ourselves, and then disinvite them because they don't fit in? And who among us would hesitate to slap an honored guest in the face? Well done, Ms, Thomas, well done. OK, that's enough facetiousness. Now I'll say what I mean: Someone is lying, possibly Thomas, possibly Walker's agent, or perhaps someone feeding information to those two people. But somebody is lying. Kudos to Alice Walker for her incredible grace in the face of it.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

"Grace" is blogging about losing a potential speaking gig and denigrating the U? I don't think so.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

@justcurious, @tano, and @brad: the facts contained with the article are true. Is there a problem with those facts? Walker is quoted, and it is a fact that she is an admirer of David Icke. I don't think anyone can quibble with the characterization of Icke's views as rabidly anti-Semitic, and just plain weird. From Wikipedia (with citations): "In May 2013 Alice Walker indicated her support for the conspiracy theorist David Icke.[34][35] On BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs she said that Icke's Human race get off your knees would be her choice if she could have only one book.[36] Walker has also praised this book on her own website.[34][37]

AA Neighbor

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Remember, the U is still a public institution and all gifts must be made public. FOIA anyone?

AA Neighbor

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

So much for free speech at the Big U. It will be interesting to see their "optimum choice". Maybe they can invite Ms Walker to give the Davis-Markert lecture?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

This is a terrible insult to a great author, but it would have been worse if the Center had quietly decided not to invite her at all because of its fears that certain donors would be offended by her views on the Israel/Palestine question.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

It is who she is as a human being. Read her daughter's quotes, wherein she won't speak to her mother, whose beliefs about motherhood is that it is "despicable". Her daughter grew up hearing this. She is not a good example for women. Even if someone hates her child, she doesn't have to tell them so.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

This smells fishy.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

As far a the Zimmerman trial comments go, there were thousands including so called prominent leaders in this country who paid no attention to what the jury had to say, they had alrady convicted the guy. Sad part is most of those so called leaders would be welcomed by the u of m management and applauded for saying most anything at all.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Considering how many young black men are on trial, they more than anyone should be in favor of listening to the trial and the defense made.

sandy schopbach

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

If I were Walker, I would not accept a new invitation. Not after a slap in the face like this. I'm ashamed of my alma mater.

Michigan Man

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

Go Blue!

Seasoned Cit

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I heard that they pulled the invitation when they learned a rodeo clown was now available and decided his appearance would provide better diversity.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Good. She is welcome to her opinions but I have no respect for those who judge others based on self-admitted ignorance. Per her own blog, she has admitted she intentionally did not follow the Zimmerman case yet in the next paragraph calls him a murderer. That is nothing but opinion based on ignorance. "I deliberately watched none of the Zimmerman trial, just as I have deliberately not read a draft of a new book by Jen Marlowe, soon to be published: I Am Troy Davis, about a young black man in Georgia who was by all indications innocent of any crime but was put to death recently by the state..." "Contemplating Zimmerman's exoneration for the obvious murder of Trayvon Martin in a letter to a friend yesterday, I wrote this, with a few thoughts added today: Just heard the Zimmerman verdict. It makes me think of the man given the "pleasure" of assassinating Che Guevara. He was young, and it was his birthday. He was strutting and proud to be offered this "gift," as Che stood bleeding, weakened and alone, before him. Fast forward to recently, when the assassin became old and ill and needed surgery – and Cuban doctors (who loved Che Guevara) did their best to heal him. The ache of realization, of what he has done, when it comes for Zimmerman, will be all the punishment he will ever deserve. ..."


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

So, I guess if Ms Walker had a son, would his name would be Trayvon?

Jay Thomas

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

DSponini: The definition of the idiom "in cold blood" is to do it without any emotion. When someone is beating you your "blood is up" and it does not apply.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

I wasn't aware that Alice Walker went straight to guilty without allowing any pesky facts to get in the way. I thought everyone got a defense and a fair minded person would at least listen to it. I know better after reading this. But that shouldn't be a surprise when she is also psychic when it comes to proclaiming innocence. Now she is connecting Trayvon Martin to Che Guevara? Che went to a South American country to start a revolution and the authorities there killed him. He wasn't minding his own business (as it is claimed Martin was), that's for sure. But it does tell you where Alice Walker's mind is: Marxist land.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

I guess it just goes to prove that just because someone can write a well-regarded piece of fiction doesn't mean they can think their way out of a cardboard box.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Pest, I'm really scared of anyone who would vote down the idea that uninformed opinion and rhetoric is worthy of regard or respect. Seriously. Who cares what someone who brags about how little they investigated an issue thinks?

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

Please note: There's been plenty of discussion about the Zimmerman verdict. Please keep the conversation here focused on the withdrawal of the invitation to Walker and not on the outcome of the Zimmerman trial.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

Zimmerman shot an unarmed juvenile in cold blood because he was losing a fist fight. A fight he instigated by following Martin.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

For whoever voted me down, I would say the exact same thing for anyone who admitted to not following the case or trial of Zimmerman and who claimed he was innocent. My comment was not about her opinion but on her opinion based on self-admitted ignorance


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

From Alice Walker's blog, part of the letter from the agent: "I'm saddened to write this because I'm a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with. This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker's comments regarding Israel."

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Alice Walker's writing is a second hand copy of William Faulkner. She should be paying his estate royalties for all the stylistic thefts. Lol.

Eduard Copely

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Agreed. Someone like Gloria Marie Steinem or American Association of University Women, Beth Scott would be excellent choices. Alice Walker writes fiction.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

The PC crowd, whether it be from the left or right, is alive and well at U-M.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

No, he means people who are afraid of people who have opinions about things. People who value "Political Correctness" above all else. None of that is really the point in this situation, however. This situation is about the director of a women's center who failed to do her due diligence, made poor choices, failed to handle it with any shred of discretion or integrity, then bungled the PR end of it. I can think of several other ways this could have gone, and none of them end with the Center or the invited speaker being publicly embarrassed.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

When you say "the PC crowd, whether from the right or left," it doesn't really have any meaning. Do you mean "people who have opinions about things"?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:38 a.m.

Too funny, you couldn't make this stuff up.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:15 a.m.

Beyond her views on Israel, I have trouble getting my head around her support for British loon David Icke. He thinks the world is by the descendants of a race of reptilian aliens who helped populate the earth and still run things from a base on the moon (I'm paraphrasing). She has made several statements promoting him in the last year or so. He's in own hot water vis a vis Israel because some are interpreting his reptiles as metaphors for Jews controlling the world, particularly since he's a fan of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

"beliefs that people take on faith" David Icke is a bit different from a religious figure. He makes claims that are scientifically falsifiable. It is scientifically falsifiable that there is a reptilian base on the moon from which aliens are controlling the Earth's population. It takes willful ignorance to believe his claims, not simple faith. The existence of a deity is not scientifically falsifiable.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

I don't personally believe in what Icke says, but I don't find his ideas any more preposterous than most other types of beliefs that people take on faith. We have not "disinvited" any speakers to the UM (that I am aware of) based on their religious faith, which may be characterized by things that many people may find to be unbelievable.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Yeah, this is the one that gets me. Intelligent people can have varying views on political topics without being completely insane. Nobody can believe that the world is secretly run by reptilian aliens without being insane.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Didn't realize she was in with Icke. Gross. Cries of anti-semitism are often hard for me to get too worked up about given the tendency for people to often conflate critiques of aggressive Jewish ethnic-nationalism/Zionism and Israeli state policy with actual anti-Semitic beliefs. Too often people bend statements like, "I don't agree with the Israeli government policy on X" with "I hate Jewish people and all things Jewish!" If she's in with David Icke, then I guess nothing would surprise me after that. The guy is either completely bonkers or just making money off people's ignorance and gullibility.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:16 a.m.

Sorry, should have been "He thinks the world is run by the descendants..."

Jay Thomas

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3 a.m.

Why didn't she just say something derogatory about white people? The invitation would have still gone out... Moral: Never say anything "controversial" to offend a Richie Rich donor.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

"All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech." How magnanimous.

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

That she would be disinvited is bizarre. There are many other components to Walker. It's not like this one issue dominates her existence. She's a Pulitzer Prize winner. She's professional. Her presence at a celebratory event doesn't seem like it would be a type of platform where there be too much political talk. Even so, someone didn't do their research for her to get invited in the first place if the issue is political. To make up for this, perhaps the university could sponsor a specific event to try to have a discussion about the issue itself. In terms of the actual conflict, it's very difficult to talk about it with people, of any perspective. Invariably, tempers begin to flair and accusations of the other side being extreme begin to get thrown around. I think the best we can do here in United States is try to promote equal amounts of criticism of political and social practices that are destructive.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Apparently death threats have changed over the years. Or people just have more time on their hands. Who adds to a death threat. "By the way, I won't tell you who I am, but I definitely want you to know I am a liberal! Be sure to tell Fox News and that Angry Moderate guy from Ann Arbor!'

Angry Moderate

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Jaime, and these particular extremists are of the liberal variety. What's your point?

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:48 a.m.

Liberals don't send death threats. Fanatics do. Fanatics come in all shapes, sizes and ideological bents.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

Liberals sent death threats to the innocent family that George Zimmerman rescued from a flipped over car. These people are not capable of comprehending the idea that people have more than one component, or that an individual may have something to contribute to the world even if they disagree about other things.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Better still, read the entire article - - it's a wonder that no one at the CEW didn't know about any of Walker's anti-Semitism before extending the invitation.

Rahim Moosa

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

Dear Jon: I am as concerned about anti-semitism (hatred of Jewish people simply because they are Jewish) as you are. But I have not seen evidence of this in Alice Walker (her blog and BBC interview). If you have any quotes from her that demonstrate anti-semitism, then please quote them here. Thanks.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

I'll pass.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

From the "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has further burnished her anti-Semitic credentials. Her latest book, The Cushion in the Road, is replete with an abundance of anti-Jewish rhetoric, including eighty pages devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which she compares the Jewish state to Nazi Germany, bashes Jews and Judaism in general, and suggests that Israel should cease to exist." I don't think anyone would want such a person to speak here.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

That's like using WorldNetDaily to back up a birther claim.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

from ""? Surely an unbiased source there.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Jon, Have you read her latest book? Or are you simply choosing to pass along, with approval, an opinion on something you know nothing about?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

And you don't think they are just a little bit biased?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:51 a.m.

Rabidly anti-Islam speaker gets to speak at EMU. Author more famous for her book/movie adaptation not allowed to speak at UM because of peripheral views on Israel. Classic.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

The only difference between religions and cults is the number of adherents. And then only sometimes.

Blue Marker

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

@ Tim Horton, "With all these weird cults out there and scientology types" You've got to love someone who is obviously very religious calling out other religions as "cults". When you go ranting on with your bible verses it seems just as "cult" like to me.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 10:16 a.m.

John- The event at EMU was a speaker who believes Islam promotes violence, and another speaker who has opposite views. This is what we used to do in this country. Present all views and air all opinions and lets the people decide. Instead of intimidating people who don't agree with you, you had to present your facts and make your case. So much more difficult than simply labeling anyone who disagrees as a "hater", so the intellectually lazy have given up on influencing .

Angry Moderate

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:13 a.m.

Nobody said she is "not allowed" to speak at U of M. The university is not required to give a special platform to any individual speaker. She is more than welcome to grab her bullhorn and preach her extreme views in the Diag like everyone else.

Tim Hornton

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

The speaker at EMU wasn't promoted by EMU or invited by them, this is an invitation from UM. Your comment is "classically" misguided. Also the EMU guy was questioning a religion where this woman is questioning a nation or race of people. Are you against questioning a religion. With all these weird cults out there and scientology types, what is so bad with finding truth in a matter or being "rabidly anti-some religion" you believe promotes violence? By the way the EMU speaker wasn't calling for violence against Muslims, but only pointing out why he believes that religion promotes violence.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

Yet another reason why UM is controlled by money, money, money not so-call academics. Demolishing the city tax base/iconic buildings/businesses to build parking lots, dorms and shrines of sports, sport related bldgs for their athletes to dynamic ticket pricing in pursuit of more, more, more for the glorification of their donors. Yet they still can't pay the city of Ann Arbor their fair share of lost tax revenue, police/firefighter service, street closures, or even pedestrian bridges to protect their students who aren't athletes. Don't forget they're getting money from DTE for those ugly solar panels along plymouth street on that massive property they bought that took millions away from the city, schools and services we use to receive.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

What is a so-called academic in your world? I assume you think there are academics who are not so-called: who are they? UM has its faults, which have come to the fore under the present administration which is on the way out, but it is a great institution of learning (football is a sad aberration that we have to live with) and what would Ann Arbor be without it?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 6:07 a.m.

but notnecessary is absolutely right. were it not for the university, ann arbor would be but a tiny speck on the map. you know, back before the university reached such pre-eminence, the city of ypsilanti was actually much more prosperous than ann arbor (compare the grandeur of the old housing stock). while it is true that sometimes the university makes annoying impositions upon the residents of the city of ann arbor, and it does not pay any property taxes whatsoever to the city on some very sizeable holdings of land, it is also true that the university is what makes ann arbor the world class city it is by bringing in the best and brightest from around the globe to study and work on the cutting edge, enriching us with such a great melting pot of culture and knowledge, and through all the payroll taxes paid to tens of thousands of employees who generally populate the ann arbor-ypsilanti metro area (as well as income taxes paid by said employees). the university is what makes ann arbor, ann arbor. we should be so thankful. visit any other metro area in michigan and see the alternative.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

notnecessary comments are not necessary and has the "stench" of UM hubris...


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

Yes i agree... it would be better if Umich didn't buy the old pfizer site so it would likely still be vacant and blighted and if none of the thousands upon thousands of jobs that the UM creates that contribute both directly and indirectly to our economy existed, or it attracted some of the smartest diverse groups of people to come to Ann Arbor. Why yes, Ann Arbor would be so much better off if not for the UM taking the tax money from the City --'we'd be so much more like Jackson or Coldwater MI -- isn't that what we all yearn for?!


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Let her speak. Sure, her views may be disagreeable to some, but dialogue should always be encouraged. I would have invited a pro-Israeli author to provide balance.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

Can;t we just keep Israel or any other political entity out of the whole thing? Surely there are more important issues to discuss regarding Continuing Education of Women? And by less issue driven speakers.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

Why do you assume that merely because Walker has certain views on the Israel-Palestinian issue that she would feel compelled to speak about that at a celebration like this? Her views on the Middle East are a tiny part of who she is, and what she is concerned about. I would be pretty certain that it would never even occur to her to speak about the Middle East at this type of event.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

I agree with your sentiment - but why would anyone want to turn a 50th anniversary celebration for something completely unrelated to Israel into an Israel/Palestine debate?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

I don't know anything about Alice Walker but I assume Gloria D. Thomas does. So why did Thomas ask her to begin with? Surely Thomas had some sense of what sort of presentation she does? Sorry but from here it smells like a donor issue. Either that or Thomas never did her due diligence.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

Why is it that UM can invite a speaker who wants to nuke Iran or is anti-palestinian but if someone disagrees with Israel's policies, they are not wanted on campus. A few years ago, the Jewish Regents got together to scold the University Press for printing a book for another publisher that expressed an anti-zionist point of view. Later their funding was cut. So much for academic freedom at UM.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

UM has plenty of speakers, including faculty members, who openly disagree with Israel's policies. I'm not sure where you've been, but believe me, they're around.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

Ha! Alice Walker "not the best fit" for CEW's anniversary? You've got to be kidding. I'd have more respect for my alma mater if they just said flat out that they're "cautious" given Walker's critiques of Zionism.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Best reply given!

Michigan Man

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Good - very glad she was uninvited - shows the U of M has some convictions. Just don't need another USA hater spewing hate at U of M.

Michigan Man

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Zucker - Has no clue!


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

I know a Michigan man. You my friend are not a Michigan man!


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.



Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

What is your basis for saying she hates the USA? Is Israel in the USA now?

Jack Gladney

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Oh boy. Nothing says, "Celebration," like Alice Walker reading a list of grievances. As far as her views on Israel (including her refusal to allow her books to be published in Hebrew), one only needs to read a brief biography to get an understanding of them. The political is always personal.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

She must be pro Israel which is bad in this town; censorship is censorship especially for people of color who buck the expected position................


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Ignorance is posting something opposite of actual truth.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

@eagleman So here is a radical concept. Lets set aside the great moral blame game - the contest to see who can claim and hold the moral high ground. Lets focus on the actual issues. Do the Palestinians have a right to the same freedoms and responsibilities that we Americans have declared are universal principles? Do the Israelis have the right to continue, endlessly, to encroach on Palestinian land and to appropriate it for themselves? Everyone is biased. Fine. There are haters on every side of every political issue on earth. Given all that, there still remains the question. What is to be done to resolve the underlying dispute. Are you willing to recognize the basic rights of all the people involved?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

And you are not biased, Pika? Puh-lease! Pro-Palestinians are every bit as biased as pro-Israelis. Oh and the Palestinian movement also happens to attract quite a few anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism is a much, much older hatred than racism. We should never forget that.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Check the facts - the opposite is true. Don't be mistaken where the true power and bias actually lie.

Dog Guy

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:09 p.m.

The director of the Center for the Education of Women is left purple-faced by this reversal.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11 p.m.

And where is the cry of there isn't enough diversity? As long as it is "proper" diversity, per-approved of course by the proper authorities in their proper way... Too Funny.

Albert Howard

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Alice Walker has been very disrespectful to Israelis, Jerusalem and Alicia Keys. Good for University of Michigan.

Jaime Magiera

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

For the record, she didn't speak ill of Alicia Keys. She, and several other musicians including Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, asked her to not play a show in Tel Aviv.

Middle America

Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 6:42 a.m.

She spoke ill of Alicia Keys? Will you put her in prison when you become president, Albert?

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Again, why did CEW invite her in the first place? Was the invitation tentative? Because she was exactly the kind of speaker they wanted until they caved to outside pressure.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

@ Eagleman, That is a ridiculous thing to say. Basically you are saying if somebody criticizes the US for Abu Grahib or drones, or killing children in Viet Nam, then they must also criticize some other group for what they did. The PROBLEM with the entire situation is the US blindly allows Israel to do whatever the hell it wants with no fear of getting in trouble. It is like having your big brother being the toughest guy in school. You get to get away with whatever you want, because nobody wants to piss off big brother. The problem is, it is time for big brother to smack some sense into Israel.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

@eagleman Your point would be well taken if you were to apply such standards to everyone who criticizes the misdeeds of Palestinians - that they should have no credibility whatsoever unless they also criticize Israeli wrongdoing. In a nation where sympathies for the Israelis are deeply rooted, and where the overwhelming majority of opinion takes the Israeli side of things, reflexively, it seems pretty odd that you would demand that anyone who criticizes Israel must also criticize the Palestinians. Does any one speaker have the right to add their voice to the general discussion, focusing on a perspective that they sense is not being fully heard? Or is every speaker required to give a comprehensive overview of the situation? No one is held to the latter standard, except as a way of trying to discredit them, or shut them up.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Pika, what, no mention of the massive human rights violations by Palestinians? The problem with people like Alice Walker and you are that you only look at one side of the problem. Certainly Israel needs to change the way they treat the Palestinians. But discussing this issue without mentioning the many horrendous acts of Palestinian terrorists makes one question that person's sincerity. The Palestinians are plagued(Hezbollah, Hamas)with a group that is every bit as noxious as Zionists and Islamic extremists. Alice Walker is a moral fraud for failing to not address this.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

By "disrespectful" I am sure you are talking about Alice Walker pointing out the truth about Israel. Same old acceptance of massive human rights violations by the powerful and the sad thing is that it works so well.

Donald Martin

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

We minions exist to serve the Donor Class . . .


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

I guess six of the donor class didn't like your comment!


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Plutocratic Oligarchy!

Jojo B

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

Isn't that the (unspoken) truth?


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

"However, center director Gloria D.Thomas denied that donors had any bearing on the decision." Right, and if you believe that one, I have some oceanfront property ...... Money is everything to the U of M and that is why they invited her and then dis-invited her. What a total embarrassment! She should be glad this happened ... they don't deserve to hear from her.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

I absolutely agree. This was handled so poorly, and the reason is unbelievable.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

i can't believe that I heard about this from the national news before I heard about it from the CEW. I wonder what would happen if a number of other donors, such as myself, decided to pull our funding because of this situation.


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

@Brad However, my point was that this may well have happened in the absence of any donor outside knowledge. I am well acquainted how these things work...nothing is final until it happens. Ms. Walker seems to be making assumptions in the absence of facts or has chosen to dismiss them.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I think it's customary to do the "planning phase" before the "inviting phase". Would you invite people to your wedding before planning it?


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

To those of you questioning the validity of the reason given; might you consider that this happened before any donors/members of the public even knew about the selection? You know, these kind of events do have planning phases where there is lots of discussion and minds DO change. I don't think it's fair to point fingers here without all the facts in front of you.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

CEW has a lot of small and a very few large donors. A group of smaller donors expressing their displeasure could at least warrant some sort of response.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

How deep are you pockets?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

Money talks how big are your donations? (a rhetorical question. I don't expect an answer)


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

"I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event." Translation, "She's a downer"? Also, I have no idea why "assured funding" couldn't still mean a donor threatened to pull funding for future events, or complained to a higher authority that then persuaded the Center to withdraw the invitation.

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

If Ms. Walker wasn't the optimum choice, then why invite her? Was the CEW trying to meet a deadline until someone "better" came along? It really looks bad.


Fri, Aug 16, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Right, John. From Alice Walker's blog, part of the letter from the agent: "I'm saddened to write this because I'm a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with. This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker's comments regarding Israel."