reported last week, Planned Parenthood’s lobbying efforts against the vote to deny them federal funds was assisted by Hamilton College, which hosted “performance artist” Rhodessa Jones, along with about a dozen representatives from the local Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, to give students a Planned Parenthood-positive message.Posted October 2, 2015, by Mary Grabar: As
The college continued the push by participating in the nationwide “Pink Out” day on September 29. In a campus-wide email Hamilton students were asked to “show appreciation for Planned Parenthood by wearing pink.” They were invited to stop by a booth to have their pictures taken holding messages of support. These are posted on Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson’s Facebook page here. The event was organized by the Womyn’s Center at the Days-Massolo Center, whose official advisor is women’s studies professor Vivyan Adair.
Hamilton College was one of many campuses participating in the event, which was also sponsored by MoveOn.org, the ACLU, CREDO Action, People for the American Way, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Council of Jewish Women, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Alliance for Justice. Planned Parenthood offered free screening for sexually transmitted diseases in 28 cities to take attention off abortion.
The email sent to Hamilton students claimed “Planned Parenthood provides necessary health care for millions of people across this country.” At the two presentations by Rhodessa Jones, no mention was made about the undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives haggling over prices for fetal body parts (body parts were also shown being handled callously by technicians).
The claim of “necessary health care” is false. According to the just-released Capital Research Center report, “Planned Parenthood Under Fire,” by Jeanne Mancini, Planned Parenthood “isn’t a benevolent healthcare provider.” Even the Washington Post “called its bluff” on the claim that abortions represent only 3 percent of the services provided. “In reality, it is estimated that Planned Parenthood makes $150 million a year performing abortions,” writes Mancini. Abortions make up 94 percent of services provided to pregnant women. Data from the nonprofit group, Democrats for Life, showed that Community Health Centers are more accessible and provide more services for women's health needs.
This is not the kind of information that Hamilton students received. The professors who sponsored the visit by Planned Parenthood and Rhodessa Jones avoided any mention of alternative views.
Abortion Advocacy 101: Abortion advocacy is one of many leftist causes that Hamilton College presents as settled academic opinion, thanks to efforts of professors like Nancy Rabinowitz who teaches Comparative Literature and began inviting Planned Parenthood-promoter Rhodessa Jones for recurring gigs as far back as 2004.
Rabinowitz’s collaboration with Planned Parenthood goes back even farther, to her tenure as president of the college’s former Kirkland Project, when Rabinowitz coordinated student internships at Planned Parenthood. The Kirkland Project was initially funded by the Kirkland Endowment, which consisted of contributions from sympathetic individuals and leftover funds from Kirkland College, the former women’s college that merged with Hamilton men’s college in 1978. The Spring 2000 newsletter announced that student Service Associateships were available for students “proposing summer work at an institution dedicated to working toward social justice”; it listed Planned Parenthood and the Hetrick Martin Institute, an LGBT youth organization, as places where students had recently interned. Students received $3,000 stipends from the Kirkland Project for their “volunteer” work at Planned Parenthood.
Rabinowitz and the Kirkland Project: Rabinowitz was forced to resign as president of the Kirkland Project in 2005 after she had invited as speaker Ethnic Studies professor Ward Churchill, who had called victims of 9/11 “little Eichmanns,” after Adolph Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Nazi Holocaust. She had invited Susan Rosenberg, convicted felon in the 1981 Brinks Armored Car Robbery, to teach as an “artist/activist-in-residence,” beginning with a course in 2004 called “Resistance Memoirs.” Rabinowitz was quoted as saying, “We are trying to train [students] to be critical thinkers and to respond intelligently to what they hear. I think the students should hear [Ward Churchill’s] whole argument before they boil it down to a few sound bites.” She then claimed that she was resigning because the media reaction had been “destructive.” Ward Churchill was fired from the University of Colorado Boulder for plagiarism in 2007. Susan Rosenberg’s 58-year prison term on weapons and explosives charges was commuted after 16 years by President Bill Clinton. Since her release she has worked as a prisoners’ rights activist and college lecturer.
The Medea Project: In Service to Planned Parenthood and Abortion: After Rabinowitz’s resignation, the Kirkland Project was renamed the Diversity and Social Justice Project. Rabinowitz, however, chaired the Kirkland Endowment Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2010. She currently serves on the Committee on Academic Policy.
Although Rabinowitz said she had learned about Jones’s work, the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, while teaching Medea, there was no discussion about the tragedy by Euripides or about literary, historical, or dramatic topics. For the last several years, the Medea Project, a program of Jones's and her partner’s performance company, Idris Ackamoor and Cultural Odyssey, has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Jones’s work is evidence that the NEA is still being used to advance political causes, as a recent NEA post, “The Medea Project: Where Art and Social Activism Meet,” shows. The theater company also receives funds from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the California Arts Council, as well as several foundations.
The film shown on September 17, Birthright, was produced by Cultural Odyssey, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Northern California. The film clips showed amateurish writing and acting. For example, it was not clear why women seated on fold-out chairs were pulling their hair or jerking their heads, in depictions of madness. We learned later during the discussion that the scene was supposed to represent a Planned Parenthood waiting room. Presumably, women were relieved of their distress after they had received services. One woman did a monologue about women’s oppression, and others discussed their abortions and getting HIV diagnoses. All were testimonials to Planned Parenthood.
Jones’s agenda already became clear at the beginning of her first presentation on September 15. Rabinowitz introduced her as “no stranger to Hamilton” and cited her awards from various organizations, including one from the mayor of San Francisco, where she is based. Although she jaunts from campus to campus, Jones does not appear to have any academic credentials. She has been invited to work in prisons here and in Russia and South Africa.
The first day Jones spent more than an hour performing, reciting, questioning, yelling, and rambling on about diversity, abortion, the Hamilton College campus police, the upcoming Black Lives Matter event, and slavery, as well giving dramatic recitations of “spoken word” poetry and showing clips from her earlier film, Open the Gate.
That film showed women in orange prison garb reenacting their horrific experiences. One felt that these were amateur therapy sessions, about “getting real,” as Jones put it, and best left to professionals. There was a lot of screaming and crying, with Jones yelling at the prisoners, “Things are happening to you!” There were some horror stories to be sure: one woman tearfully described how she was raped, while other female prisoners reenacted the gruesome scene on the floor. In the film, Jones enlightens the women, telling them that men run the world and that women need to take back their power. This is where Planned Parenthood fits in, presumably.
Rhodessa Jones's Credentials? But Jones does not seem to have any counseling credentials either. “I come into jails as an artist . . . as a sister,” she explained. She was inspired to begin working in jails by one of her eight brothers who was imprisoned in Attica during the 1971 riots when, as she said, “it was taken over by the Rockefeller goons.” She gave few details about her brother’s crimes other than to say that he was good-looking and “incorrigible,” but had robbed an “important” person. He was sent to a chain gang in the South at the age of 16, and afterward had difficulty staying out of prison. He died at the age of 50 after he was beaten up by 16- and 17 year-olds over a pot deal.
Jones’s work began in 1989 when she was asked to teach aerobics. But she did not get a good response from inmates, who skeptically asked, “Who is this bitch?”
“I said, ‘spell “bitch,”’” Jones said to laughter. Seeing that they had no interest in aerobics, she told the inmates her own story, about becoming a mother at the age of 16. The women suspected she might be a police officer because she was telling them her “business.”
Her presentation jumped from topic to topic, interspersed with Planned Parenthood promotions. To all those who presumably have a problem with the latest videos showing Planned Parenthood employees bartering body parts, she said, “I say just trust women. We need to know we’re trusted.”
Spoken Word about Slavery: Jones recited a poem about a “girl-child” kidnapped by “white slavers,” then raped by sailors, and thrown into the bottom of a slave ship. Very dramatically she said, “I see the white islanders chasing the birds.” Sailors were “destroying the African girl-child with fists and semen.” She screamed, “We are thrown down into the dark hole covered with semen.” Shouting “freedom,” she described a dream about flying back to Africa. (The events are historically inaccurate because overwhelmingly it was Africans who captured and enslaved other Africans and then sold them to the white slave traders.) Perhaps attuned to the fact that many in her audience were blonde, she added a vision of multicultural redemption, “blonde-haired children singing songs of a new world.” She interspersed her performance with references to “the Irish, the Jewish, the Mexicans,” etc.
Students Cooing Like Pigeons: Jones also recited a poem about the homeless, drug addicts, and “we who have been in a maximum security prison.” It was a litany of misery (“fucking in an HIV sweat”). The recitations about street life were interspersed with the refrain, “We will eat you.” I was surprised to hear the students readily follow her instructions to coo on cue like pigeons as she recited certain lines. It was a depressingly surreal experience.
Jones also described her encounter with campus police that day when she was standing outside a building waiting for someone to pick her up. One of the officers slowed down the car and looked at her. She made a face to show how she stared back at him tauntingly, inviting knowing laughter from the students. Jones encouraged students to attend the lecture later in the week by one of the Black Lives Matter founders and gave a plug for the (historically inaccurate) movie Selma. She told them that there are children ages 12 and 13 who are in lock-down.
Encouraging Courageous Activism: The session was clearly intended to give students a glimpse into the underbelly of life, arouse their pity, and get them to be activists. In fact, she asked how many of them wanted to be activists. A good number raised their hands. She bragged about student activists she has worked with: a girl who disappeared in Syria 18 months ago and one who adopted an African baby orphaned by HIV.
She then asked students the questions she said she uses in her prison workshops. Questions ranged from name and age, to “hidden talents” and whether “you write,” “who did you leave home with?” and “what were you told by your parents?” The last was the one she asked students. Some responded with typical bits of parental advice about avoiding drugs and studying hard. She discussed the added burdens of “black, brown, red, and yellow parents.” More questions came, such as “did you escape death?” and “what would you do if you could turn back time?” One student said she would have “come out” in high school. One young woman holding her two-month-old baby said she would have finished school before getting pregnant. Jones repeated that she would not have had a child at 16. Her father had advised her that the Lord would provide, but she thought of how much better her life would have been had she aborted her now 50-year-old daughter. It was clear that students should learn from her mistake and exercise that choice.
Before she ended, Jones stated, “These are things that make up the mythology of our existence.”
The entire exercise was an emotionally manipulative promotion of abortion by the mother of a 50-year-old woman as a two-month-old baby was cradled in his mother’s arms. It had nothing to do with higher education.
Academic Malpractice: A longtime, outspoken critic of such academic malpractice is Hamilton History Professor Robert Paquette, who is one of the three founders of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Paquette observes, “You would have thought that Hamilton’s president Joan Hinde Stewart and its board of trustees would have learned something from the Susan Rosenberg–Ward Churchill fiascoes. Well they did, and here it is: Few campus stories have legs in the public press these days, and with a multimillion dollar developmental office and public relations arm you can sweep things out of sight under the rug when you are not spinning them into fantastic fairy tales for public consumption.”
Planned Parenthood is enjoying free publicity on campuses with faculty members who are complicit in hiding their real work: in recent years, Planned Parenthood has reduced the number of cancer screenings by 50% while increasing the number of abortions, and paying for lavish salaries and expense accounts of executives.
Paquette notes that these left-wing activists and their academic allies are funded lavishly. He hopes that conservative parents "take note of the current state of things so they can make more informed choices."
Hearing from Planned Parenthood: Beth LeGere, Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, noted our post, which was linked in Accuracy in Academia. In a September 30 email she identified herself as the person who on September 17 encouraged students to register to vote. She denied, however, that she had encouraged them to vote for pro-choice candidates. She also is the one who encouraged students to call Congressman Richard Hanna and urge him to vote against defunding Planned Parenthood. Internal Revenue Service rules for social welfare organizations, such as Planned Parenthood's 501(c)(4) arm, allow for promoting certain legislation but not “intervention in political campaigns.”
LeGere demanded a retraction. Of course, students were urged to vote for “pro-choice” candidates, as I stated. I replied by asking how Planned Parenthood’s involvement at Hamilton College fits in with their mission statement or with the mission statement of an educational institution.
Her response will be reported in the next installment.