Agree To Disagree

December 5, 1979 — The Daily Iowan (letter)

The Mossadegh Project | July 27, 2016                                  

“We condemn oppression in any form. For this reason we are angered both at the taking of hostages in Iran and the threats directed at Iranian students across the state and the nation.”

In Nov. 1979, the University of Iowa Student Senate rejected a resolution submitted by Sen. Keith Gormezano, calling for the Iranian Students Association be defunded due to the hostage crisis, and its members be subject to deportation if any hostages were killed.

Sen. Scott Kilman said it was “the most shocking and most shameful thing I’ve seen and I hope I never see anything like it again”. His subsequent letter to school newspaper The Daily Iowan, conjuring the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, is shown below.

Kilman soon became a staff writer for the paper, followed by Metro Editor. He went on to a career in journalism, writing for The Wall Street Journal and co-authoring a book on global hunger and poverty.

Wednesday, December 5, 1979

Senate praises ‘responsible’ conduct

To the editor:

In light of the current crisis in Iran, the University of Iowa Student Associations Senate would like to thank the student body for their largely responsible behavior during these recent uncertain weeks. Last month the UISAS passed a resolution encouraging students to remain calm and maintain an exemplary campus.

We would like to commend our fellow students for upholding the spirit of this resolution. We would particularly like to recognize those fifty or more people who attended the candlelight vigil held Nov. 15 in concern for the safety of the innocent hostages in Iran. In addition, we thank the Iranian Student Association and the Moslem Student Society for encouraging a peaceful atmosphere at the university.

We condemn oppression in any form. For this reason we are angered both at the taking of hostages in Iran and the threats directed at Iranian students across the state and the nation. The simple truth is that Iranian students in American universities cannot be held responsible for the embassy hostages halfway around the world. There is no justification for any punitive action taken against them based on this incident.

It is deplorable to attack any person because of nationality — we should not forget the extreme to which this can be carried. At the beginning of World War II Japanese-Americans were forced into “relocation camps” because this nation blamed them for the actions of Japan. Homes were ruined and innocent lives thrown into turmoil. This event is forever a part of our history and should stand as a lesson on anger senselessly directed against a people because of their national or cultural origin.

We cannot condemn Iranian students in America because some of them may support the holding of hostages in Iran. It is wrong to identify all Iranian students with this sentiment because within their number they disagree. But more fundamentally, we should not attack those Iranian students who favor the holding of hostages. We must never make those with opinions different than our own afraid to express them, and we should never be afraid to hear what they have to say. In our democratic society we have the obligation to accept divergent opinions. If we intimidate and punish those whose opinions differ then we cannot retain our principles.

Scott Kilman
for the University of Iowa Student Associations Senate


Related links:

Hostage Crisis Not the Fault of Iranian-Americans, Writes Cal Poly SLO Student (Nov. 1979)

Carter ‘hopes’ Shah survivesUnited Press International, December 8, 1978

Temptation | Daily Iowan editorial, Nov. 28, 1979

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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