Veteran professor speaks out


Photo courtesy of Young Americas for Freedom

Robert Pierce, @RobertP_EXP

“I am an honorably discharged disabled veteran of both the U.S. Army and Air Force and I am deeply offended by this poster, it unnecessarily stokes division,” read a piece of paper printed out by LMC professor and Administration of Justice Department Chair Anthony Vleet Hailey.

The letter was approved and posted underneath a copy of the Young Americans for Freedom club’s 9/11 Never Forget Project promotional poster.

“Do you agree?” the poster questioned after leaving a telephone number and email address.

Hailey submitted the comment to the Office of Student Life after seeing the original YAF poster, due to the perceived Islamophobic undertones.

“I had this visceral reaction,” Hailey stated. “I had to put something up [in response].”

Hailey stated the project as a whole was a good way to remember 9/11 but the poster was “counterproductive” and might have “turned people off” from YAF’s event and cause.

“I thought that it was really inflammatory to put up a poster with images that graphic that were unflattering to people from the Middle East,” he stated. “I think they could have honored the people who lost their lives without hearkening back to things that had nothing to do with 9/11.”

YAF Vice Chairman Joseph Tompkinson stated in an earlier interview that the common link between the events depicted and the original 9/11 attacks was that they were all examples of terrorism. The graphic images were merely to draw extra attention to the gravity of terrorism, he said. Hailey did state he didn’t feel that the poster, which was created by YAF’s parent organization Young Americas Foundation, was not deliberately designed to offend.

“I don’t think that it was their intention,” Hailey said.  “I don’t think they thought it out [when they posted it.]”

In general, Hailey asserted that remembering and memorializing the 9/11 attacks and losses is important, but must be done so in a positive and respectful manner.

“Yes, we need to have pride,” Hailey stated. “We need to remember… [but not] at the detriment of other folks.”

In posting his response, Hailey also hoped to create discussion between himself and the student population about the original poster. However, he stated that at the time of writing he had not received a single student response that did not come from YAF itself, whose interactions with him he described as “very respectful.”

When approached about their discussions with Hailey, YAF declined to comment.

“We will not be answering any further questions about our 9/11 Never Forget Project,” YAF Chairman Jessica Anderson stated.

YAF also refused to respond to LMC Associated Students, who requested they speak at a Monday Academic Senate meeting. YAF instructed LMCAS to send any questions regarding them to The Experience, according to LMCAS Advisor John Nguyen.

The Experience has no official partnership with YAF to act as a mediator between them and other campus organizations. The Experience did not receive any questions from LMCAS.

“LMCAS was interested in… having a conversation and discussion about their involvement on campus,” said John Nguyen, LMCAS Advisor, stated. The goal of the proposed meeting was to have a “dialogue” meant to further establish and define YAF as an organization.

Nguyen also stated the locations of Hailey’s posters were determined by the students who physically put them up, not the Office of Student Life as an administration. As LMCAS Advisor, Nguyen still felt positive about the whole situation.

“There’s a dialogue here on campus,” Nguyen said. “And that’s really what college is all about.”