An Open Letter To Kent State University
Trying to maintain 'Excellence in Action'
To my wonderful university and its professors, administration, and students:
The past two years of my life have been filled with great memories, the beginnings of many lifelong friendships, and some of the most engaging academics I have ever encountered. Entering into my senior year at Kent State University, I can confidently say that I would not change my choice in higher education if I had the chance. I've grown to love this school and its little quirks, everything from the wind vortex between the student center and the library to the vents along the Esplanade that students are constantly huddling around. It's truly a shame that such a great university -- and, now, my home -- fosters a deplorable person within its academic infrastructure and permits him to educate young adults. Associate Professor of History, Dr. Julio Pino, threatens the integrity and values of Kent State University and I am ashamed that no one has taken initiative to alleviate the situation.
We've all heard that saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Who takes the shame now, though, after countless times of his hateful antics and politically-charged stunts? For all those who are unaware, or somehow forgot, Dr. Pino, has a colorful track record of hate, accusations, and publicity. Let's begin in 2002, when he wrote in a guest column of Kent State University's campus newspaper a troubling tribute to teenage Palestinian suicide bomber Ayat al-Akras, titled, "Singing out Prayer for a Youth Martyr." Perhaps a head nod to jihad isn't enough to terminate a tenured professor, but this was only the beginning. In 2005, Dr. Pino wrote another article to the campus newspaper, making bold claims that President John F. Kennedy was attempting a "genocide against the Cuban people," during the Cuban missile crisis. He also claimed President Bill Clinton murdered 500,000 Iraqi children during the 1990s, while adding that "cocaine cowboy" President George W. Bush tacked on another 100,000. To tie things together, Dr. Pino then oh-so-affectionately referred to his students as his "little Jihadists" and "beloved Taliban." I don't believe I am alone in questioning whether this man is indoctrinating his students with ideals of radical Islam or if he is, indeed, teaching them. I also don't believe I am alone in leaning toward the former. As if this wasn't enough to ponder, the plot thickens.
In 2007, Julio Pino became known as a columnist for the pro-terrorism online blog website, Global War, which is now defunct. The website, a self-proclaimed "jihadist news service," called for the annihilation of the Jewish people and American soldiers. The website gave step-by-step instructions for bomb making and publicly declared overwhelming support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. There, he published works glorifying jihadism and celebrating deaths of victims of attacks. I get it, he's entitled to think and say whatever his heart desires (thanks to the America that he despises). BUT, do we really want someone who supports terrorism and murder and who refers to his students as his "little jihadists" to educate the 27,000+ students who attend Kent State University? If your answer is yes, then I respectfully, but passionately, disagree.
As if all of the aforementioned wasn't enough, Dr. Julio Pino was investigated in 2009 by the United States Secret Service, who cited him as a possible connection in an ongoing investigation. They later stated he was someone who needed to be investigated, assumedly due to his outspoken ties to terrorist networks. It was later said that the investigation was sparked by an email Dr. Pino sent out to his colleagues which stated the White House "would need more coffins." Not only are students subjected to his mishegas, but his colleagues, as well. Again, I ask, why have you sat back allowing a murder-advocating terrorist supporter to stomp all over our university's reputation?
In October 2011, Dr. Julio Pino got his 10 seconds of fame when Ishmael Khaldi was invited as a guest speaker on Kent State's campus. Khaldi is celebrated as being the first Muslim/Bedouin member of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pino engaged in question and answer with Khaldi, inquiring how he and Israel could justify giving aid money to Haiti and Turkey, claiming it to be "blood money." Shortly following the exchange, Pino yelled, "Death to Israel!" The following days were characterized by a plethora of media coverage and debate over whether Pino's comments were in the likeness of hate speech and enough to take action against. Lester Lefton, president of the university at the time, denounced Pino's actions, but no further action was taken. What about calling for the death for an entire country, and assumedly its people, is not hateful or inciting violence? Again, I ask the Kent State community: Is this the type of educator we want on our campus?
Hate speech, according to the American Bar Association, is "speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits." I think it goes without saying that Dr. Pino's comments, on more than one occasion, perfectly fits the criteria. The First Amendment does protect this kind of speech, however, whether we agree with it or not. Even more, Dr. Pino's tenure seems to leave the administration having to settle for giving him a small slap on the wrist for his deplorable actions. While tenure can protect professors, it sometimes acts more as a window that they can look through and mock you while you're locked on the other side. I will not stand for this madness. I care about my school, my peers, and the integrity of the administration. Do we really want to continue to be known around the world as the university that harbors a jihadist-promoting academically-protected terrorist wannabe? Kent State, we are better than that.
In recent news, Dr. Pino wrote an article, published by the History News Network, which addressed his "academic friends of Israel." He "cursed" them for shielding themselves with "academic objectivity." He then continued to liken Zionism as the "spiritual heir to Nazism" and signed off with a pledge to all those in collaboration with the Zionist regime, "Jihad until victory!" The promise of murder is something that I am not willing to stand for or be associated with. If we, the Kent State University community, fail to take action now, we risk having yet another traumatic stigma attached to our name. So, my fellow classmates, the educators of Kent State, and the administration of the university: I ask you to question your values and the values of our academic institution. In 1970, we mourned the loss of student lives in a horrific tragedy. Why, now, would we allow murder and terror to be promoted on our campus? Hate speech and indoctrination are unacceptable. Stand up for our school. Fight for integrity in the world of academia. I ask you to stand by me (and most of the world) in the battle for the good of humanity, the safety of our people, and the moral values of this country.