FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2023
Book Tour Stop in Washington Sparks Controversy and Censorship
SEATTLE: Medea Benjamin, co-author of ‘War In Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict’ arrives in Washington to controversy and censorship. She was scheduled for a book event at University Book Store on March 15th. The bookstore, which is associated with the University of Washington, canceled her scheduled book tour appearance. The bookstore told event organizers they were under pressure from a pro-Ukrainian student group from the University of Washington and yielded to their demands.
Dan Gilman, former President of Veterans For Peace, Seattle Chapter stated, "It's quite obvious that the bookstore caved to political pressure to cancel the talk. Since when is a bookstore unable to deal with a controversial book?"
Mary Paterson, a member of Seattle Anti-War Coalition who has been working with University Book Store on the event, says, “We are very disappointed in the decision of the highly respected University Book Store. We ask for dialogue with those who objected to the event.”
Organizational sponsors of the event include Veterans for Peace, Earth Care Not Warfare, and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility as well as the Seattle AntiWar Coalition.
Understandably, Ukrainians in Seattle are being traumatized by the devastation of their country. The death toll alone is unconscionable. But the mainstream media has created a false binary around the war: either you stand with Ukraine militarily or you shut up, is the message. Those of us who want an end to the war will not be silent: we call for a ceasefire and negotiations."
Medea has been on the tour for six months, speaking in over 100 venues. Many of the events have been attended by Ukrainians with very different points of view and some very angry with her analysis. She has always treated them with respect and compassion for what their families are going through back home. She invites them to take the microphone and fully express themselves. Her own grandparents were Ukrainians Jews.
Upon hearing the news that there were Ukrainians who objected to her presentation in Seattle, she wrote this to the bookstore: “I welcome people coming to the event who oppose my views, or who even want to protest. That is their right and I certainly understand and empathize with them, especially if they are Ukrainian. My experience has been to invite protesters to the stage to express their views. It can enrich the discussion if they are willing to engage in dialogue. I sincerely hope you do not cancel the event. We desperately need more discussion on a conflict that is causing so much suffering and could lead us into World War III.”
The bookstore, especially associated with a university, made a grave mistake canceling the event. People who are fighting for democracy back home must respect free speech here in the U.S.
Wednesday's tour stop has since been moved to the University Congregational United Church, which graciously agreed to host the event. A rally outside the University Book Store will take place after the event. Details to come.
For more information regarding the book tour visit: https://www.codepink.org/ukrainebooktour
For media interviews please contact: Melissa Garriga | [email protected]