Boycott of John Howard?

Today it has been revealed that University of Sydney staff are planning to boycott John Howard’s receiving of an honary dictorate in protest against the supposed ‘racist’ and ‘war criminal’. Never mind that this man was our Prime Minister for 12 years. But out of this madness, 2 questions must be asked. Why is it that we continue to fund these unintelligent, non- academic, ungrateful, unemployable lefturds? And considering more young people than ever are graduating from University, what type of generation are we going to create, considering the appalling state of our nation’s Universities?

“University of Sydney academics protest honorary degree for ‘racist and war criminal’ John Howard”, Sydney Morning Herald, September 28 2016:

Academics from the University of Sydney are protesting against the bestowal of an honorary doctorate on John Howard, saying the former Prime Minister is “considered a racist and a war criminal” and “not a fit recipient of the university’s highest honour”.

The university said it is conferring the honour “in acknowledgement of his achievements including world-leading gun law reform, leadership in East Timor and contribution to Australia’s economic reform”.

But about 112 academics from the university had by Wednesday afternoon signed a petition opposing Friday’s planned ceremony with Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson.

“To confer a doctorate on him is an insult to Indigenous people, refugees, and anyone committed to multiculturalism, peace and social progress in this country and in the world,” the petition says.

“Howard’s jingoistic, divisive and reactionary politics are directly responsible for the widening fractures in our society, starkly revealed just last week by the Essential Poll that found that 49 per cent of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration.”

The signatories cite what they say was “a sharp escalation in racism (Tampa affair; Pacific Solution for asylum seekers; Northern Territory Intervention) and militarism (participation in the invasion of Iraq)” and “an assault on the independence of university research (the so-called ‘history’ wars)” under Mr Howard’s prime ministership.

They also blame Mr Howard’s time in leadership for “mainstreaming of far-right politics [which] laid the foundations for the success of One Nation, which today has four seats in the Senate.”

Mr Howard said: “It is a free country, they are entitled to their view.”

The staff and PhD students plan a protest around the university’s Great Hall on Friday morning.

Academic Nick Riemer, one of the co-ordinators of the petition, said “the basic point is that the things that Howard did as prime minister – namely joining the invasion of Iraq, escalating the government’s harsh stance on asylum seekers, starting the Northern Territory intervention – all of these things are the exact opposite of the kind of rigorously thought-through and socially beneficial and evidence-based kinds of policy that universities see themselves as promoting.”

Dr Riemer, who is affiliated with the tertiary union, also suggested the honour was politically motivated.

“The truth is that universities use [honorary degrees] opportunistically, to send political messages and to win favours.

“The fact that there is a Coalition government in power at the moment obviously makes it a politically attractive proposition for management to offer an honorary doctorate to an LNP figurehead.”

Chancellor Hutchinson declared a donation to the Liberal party of $2500 in 2011, and her husband, Roger Massy-Greene, has been a prolific Liberal party donor over the years.

A spokeswoman for the university said the University Senate approved Mr Howard’s conferral in December 2015, and that former prime minister Bob Hawke will also receive an honorary doctorate later this year.

Former prime ministers to have been recognised by the university are Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam, Stanley Bruce and William Hughes.

Howard is an alumnus of the University of Sydney’s law school and a former member of its Liberal Club. He has received similar recognition from the University of NSW, Macquarie University, Bond University and Charles Sturt University.

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