Many American universities, including the three named below, continue to wrong African children even more egregiously
by Claude Gatebuke
“It’s on us to protect the abused … the challenge has been issued … to do more.” – LaVar Arrington, former Penn State football star, Nov. 12, 2011
Higher education institutions in the U.S. that associate with heinous criminals are more common than you think. Beyond mere association, American universities have gone to great lengths to ignore, minimize and dismiss major crimes and outright support individuals who commit them, even those who commit heinous crimes against children. Assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky at Penn State got away for at least a decade with molesting and raping children. Penn State University officials either looked the other way or covered for Sandusky and allowed him to continue committing crimes.
Penn State, a prestigious American university, has been rocked by the scandal which became public on Nov. 4, 2011. A grand jury indicted retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys. In American sports, Penn State football is one of the elite programs, boasting numerous championships and the winningest coach in college football, Joe Paterno. Data for the 2010-11 academic year from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education shows that Penn State football revenues were $72.7 million, of which $53.2 were profit.
According to the indictment, Mike McQueary, a lower ranked assistant coach, found Sandusky anally raping a 10-year-old boy in 2002. When McQueary reported the incident to Joe Paterno, he simply reported it to his superiors and kept quiet. Paterno, the most powerful man at Penn State who coached the Nittany Lions since 1966, was fired last Saturday and his superiors, Tim Curly and Gary Schultz, have also been indicted and face jail time if convicted. Their looking the other way and the cover-up that allowed Sandusky to sexually abuse at least eight children has cost them and Penn State a great deal.
Joe Paterno-dominated Penn State is not the only American institution of higher learning that has been failing recently to blow the whistle on egregious child rapists.
To aid your re-thinking, consider three other U.S. universities. Recently, each has knowingly welcomed and heaped honors on the same serial abuser, a man whose unspeakable crimes against children is actually the tip of an iceberg of crimes against humanity.
And the child abuser they have all deified recently? Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s dictator.
He, among many other massive crimes, has led direct and proxy armies of children to invade African countries. Not once. Not twice. But three times. The children in Kagame’s armies suffer horribly. Worse, Kagame uses them to inflict terrible suffering on un-armed children. Most of these lived in the Eastern Congo. Impeccable conservative assessments put the toll at over 5 million dead.
Let us now scrutinize each university’s refusal to distance itself from Kagame.
All three universities have honored Rwanda’s president, Gen. Paul Kagame, and praised him and his achievements, while ignoring his crimes, a la Penn State. The excuses made by these institutions to continue their association with Kagame reek of attempts to minimize his crimes, and worse, outright dismiss them.
In May 2010, Oklahoma Christian University President Dr. Mike O’Neal, a friend to Kagame, communicated to members of the African Great Lakes Coalition that he would not take part in the Congo “controversy.” Six months later, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released the UN Mapping Exercise Report for DR Congo. The report recounted one among many horror stories where Kagame’s troops lured refugees into meetings ostensibly to discuss repatriation back to Rwanda. Instead, “the victims, who included a large number of women and children, were led outside in small groups. They were bound and their throats were cut or they were killed by hammer blows to the head. The bodies were then thrown into pits or doused with petrol and burned. The operation was carried out in a methodical manner and lasted at least one month. Before vacating the premises, the soldiers tried to erase all trace of the massacres.” The UN Mapping Report, based on the accounts of more than 600 eyewitnesses, goes on to say that a competent court could find Rwandan troops guilty of genocide in Congo.
In September of 2011, officials at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) argued that the situation with Rwanda and Kagame in particular is “complicated,” but only after protests by students, faculty and activists, demanding that they consider President Kagame’s human rights violations record. CMU signed a deal with Kagame that will net CMU $100 million over 10 years. To grab these 30 pieces of silver, CMU ignored the cries of millions of children under the age of 5 killed as a result of Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It seems that the several million deaths of these children are a mere afterthought or a non-factor for CMU. Instead, CMU continues to forge forward, calling it a “wonderful opportunity” and taking its massive financial outcomes. Rather than a multimillion dollar football powerhouse like Penn State, CMU is engaged in a multimillion dollar educational institution with a criminal at its forefront.
In early November 2011, just as the Penn State scandal began exploding, Sacramento State University asked Kagame to be the honored keynote speaker at the university’s Third International Conference on Genocide. Keep the essential ingredient in mind: A general whose 40 current and former high-ranking military officials have been indicted by a Spanish investigative judge for crimes of genocide, among others, was being invited to speak about genocide prevention. You could argue that a perpetrator knows best how to prevent a crime – just like coach Sandusky of Penn State can probably provide tips on how to stop rapists like him.
The Cal State invitation to Kagame is no different from holding up coach Sandusky as the exemplar at a conference on preventing child rape. Such an invitation would be excused if the host did not know. However, Kagame’s hosts and friends had been informed by their faculty members, students and members of the Northern California community, including accounts from survivors and witnesses of Kagame’s massacres. They may want to see how ignoring facts has backfired on Penn State. Even as they continue to demonstrate lack of human compassion for the victims, the cover-up for major criminals will come forth. Just ask Penn State.
Voices of reason have cautioned these university pals of Kagame. Sadly, just like Penn State, the institutions are choosing to ignore these voices. Professors at CMU petitioned the university and Sacramento State university professors raised concerns about the association with Kagame. As usual, they were attacked and vilified by Kagame’s cheerleaders, who attack anyone who so much as disagrees with Kagame. These professors acted courageously before LaVar Arrington’s speech at Penn State at the Nov. 12, 2011, vigil.
Still, a caution must be heeded. Universities and school officials that partner closely with major criminals, especially those who kill, rape and molest children, would do well to heed LaVar Arrington’s advice. Let today be a start to protect the victims, instead of the perpetrators.
So a message to Oklahoma Christian University, to Carnegie Mellon University, to Sacramento State University, to Kagame’s cheerleaders: This is your wakeup call. Either hold Kagame accountable and empathize with his millions of victims, or simply ask Penn State how prevention is better than cure!
Claude Gatebuke, a Rwandan-born human rights activist, survived a civil war and genocide in Rwanda. Based in the U.S., he works for democracy and against dictators, believing that tyranny and repression make conflict and genocide more likely. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.