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George Washington University Students Demand Their School Change Building Names, Remain Silent On Their School’s Name

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Several student groups at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. are demanding different buildings be renamed, saying the figures they’re named after were “slave owners, proponents of racial segregation and war criminals,” according to an email exclusively obtained by this reporter.

This reporter requested comments from the GW Student Association, the group pushing the petition, and GWU. No responses were received.

The GWSA also didn’t respond when asked if they are urging their school to be renamed as they push to cancel figures associated with the country’s dark past with slavery.

In the riots that ensued in the weeks following the tragic death of George Floyd, a famous bust of former President George Washington on GWU’s campus was toppled. Weeks later, the University released a delayed statement confirming the incident occurred and saying it “did not appear to be a targeted protest against the university, and there were no reported crowds on campus that night.”

Since then, student organizations have continued pushing for sweeping changes from the school’s administration. That includes this latest push to ditch monikers original to the school and to this country.

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“On behalf of the Black Student Union, Black Defiance, Persist GW, SINAR (Students for Indigenous and Native American Rights), and Students Against Imperialism we put forth a document that not only lists the names but provides indisputable historical facts and consequences of the individuals in question,” the petition reads.

“For years, these buildings were named after slave owners, proponents of racial segregation and war criminals. It is time we sever ties with them and start anew. It is completely unfair to continue to ask students to attend lectures, play sports, and have them host events in buildings named after individuals who would have never wanted them inside. Student activists have been demanding the renaming of the buildings for years now and it is time we truly reckon with the issue and tackle it head first.”

Requesting accountability from GWU for its “role in racial segregation,” the groups’ petition seeks to push the school to reconsider the names on many buildings and hallways. Moreover, they’re seeking to rename the Colonial mascot who they say “inappropriately and inaccurately represents the students body. The school moniker severely impacts school spirit, and the experience of the student body at GW for the following reasons.”

“Firstly, George Washington was not a Colonial,” the groups said in their petition. “The term colonial was an insult utilized by mainland residents to belittle remote colony residents as a demoted social class. As commander of the Continental Army and a leader of the revolution to literally no longer be a colony, George Washington was if anything an anti-colonial. These facts have been verified by a leading scholar on campus of George Washington’s life and legacy, Professor Denver Brunsman.”

“Colonials were active purveyors of colonialism and were complicit in militarized and racialized violence, oppression, and hierarchy. Colonialism has been historically and contemporaneously built upon usurping land, labor, and autonomy from racialized communities through dehumanizing violence and suppression. The only occupants of a colony or colonized territory that were identified as Colonials were those with autonomy and power,” the petition stated.

“This excludes enslaved and indigenous communities,” it added. “The glorified and romanticized image of a white male Colonial normalizes white supremacist patriarchy.”

Additionally, the groups are demanding that The Cloyd Heck Marvin Center, who served as the President of the University between 1927 to 1959, Fulbright Hall, named after fmr. Sen. James William Fulbright, Madison Hall, named after Pres. James Madison, the Winston Churchill Center, named after the former British Prime Minister, Francis Scott Key Hall, named after the man who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Monroe Hall, named after President James Monroe all be renamed.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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