Flags commemorating 9/11 taken down as political statement

People taking down American flags outside of Mead Chapel

People taking down American flags outside of Mead Chapel

UPDATE (9/13/13): The Addison Independent came out today with the most thorough story yet about the incident. It included a quotes from Don Stevens who is the chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe. Here is an excerpt:

“We didn’t know anything about this and if we had we certainly wouldn’t have sanctioned it,” Stevens said.

He said that Abenakis do not publicize the locations of their burial sites in order to protect them, and that he has no knowledge of any such sites on the Middlebury campus. Stevens said that even if the site of the memorial had been a burial site, the American flags placed in the earth would not have been a desecration.

“Our burial sites honor our warriors and their bravery,” Stevens said. “Putting flags in the earth to honor bravery would not be disrespectful.”

UPDATE (9/12/13): Here is part of a statement written by Amanda Lickers, the woman Shireman-Grabowski claimed to assist in removing the flags. Lickers says she is a member of the Onondowa’ga Nation, which is a part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The statement was posted in an article on the website Climate Connections:

yesterday i went to occupied abenaki territory. i was invited to middlebury college to facilitate a workshop on settler responsibility and decolonization. i walked across this campus whose stone wall structures weigh heavy on the landscape. the history of eugenics, genocide and colonial violence permeate that space so fully like a ghost everywhere descending. it was my understanding that this site is occupying an abenaki burial ground; a sacred site.

walking through the campus i saw thousands of small american flags. tho my natural disdain for the occupying colonial state came to surface, in the quickest moment of decision making, in my heart, i understood that lands where our dead lay must not be desecrated. in my community, we do not pierce the earth. it disturbs the spirits there, it is important for me to respect their presence, their want for rest.

my heart swelled and i knew in my core that thousands of american flags should not penetrate the earth where my abenaki brothers and sisters sleep. we have all survived so much – and as a visitor on their territories i took action to respect them and began pulling up all of the flags.

i was with 4 non-natives who supported me in this action. there were so many flags staking the earth and their hands helped make this work faster. this act of support by my friends, as settlers, tho small was healing and inspiring. we put them away in black garbage bags and i was confronted by a nationalistic-settler, a young white boy who attends the college demanding i relinquish the flags to him. i held my ground and confiscated them. i did not want to cave to his support of the occupying, settler-colonial, imperalist state, and the endorsing of the genocide of indigenous peoples across the world.

UPDATE (9/12/13): Everyone from HuffPo to India Country Media Network has covered the action. It has seriously gone viral.

UPDATE (9/12/13 11:51AM): Business Insider also posted about it on their website.

UPDATE (9/12/13 11:16AM): Fox Nation’s website has posted an excerpt of Campus editor Kyle Fink ’14‘s story.

UPDATE (9/12/13 10:50AM): President Ronald D. Liebowitz has addressed the matter in an all-school email. He says he was “deeply disturbed by the insensitivity” of “this selfish act of protest” and that “[t]he College has begun a disciplinary investigation of this incident.”

UPDATE (9/11/13 11:44PM): Anna Shireman-Grabowski ‘15.5 has come forward to confirm her involvement in disposing of the American flags and that she is the person kneeling in the picture. She also said that the other individuals were “non-Middlebury students.”  In a written statement she wrote:

“Today I chose to act in solidarity with my friend, an Indigenous woman and a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy who was appalled to see the burial grounds of another Indigenous nation desecrated by piercing the ground that their remains lay beneath.”

We’ve posted the entirety of her statement below the jump.

UPDATE: The flags have been replaced by Harris and a group of students (see comments below post).

photo-40

UPDATE: The Campus’s website has more details here.

ORIGINAL: At around 2:45PM this afternoon a group of people took down the American flags placed in front of Mead Chapel by the College Republicans and Democrats (Updated 8:45PM) to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. Four women and one man piled them into garbage bags and took them away.

Julia Madden ’14 and College Republican member Ben Kinney Harris ’15 confronted the group as they disposed of the flags. According to Madden, the group only identified themselves by saying they were there on behalf of the Abenaki people. middbeat does not yet know who the individuals are and if any of them are Middlebury students.

When Madden and Kinney asked about what they were doing they replied that it was disrespectful to the Abenaki people to put the Abenaki’s colonizers’ flags on their land. When Kinney asked if he could have the flags back since his organization purchased them, they refused and left with them.

“I was dumbfounded that someone could be that disrespectful about something that affected everyone in this country and that everyone should recognize,” said Madden in a phone interview.

If you have any more information about this or thoughts about it, please send it in to [email protected] or comment below.

Shireman-Grabowski’s Statement:

Today I, along with a group of non-Middlebury students, helped remove around 3,000 American flags from the grass by Mead Chapel. While I was not the only one engaged in this action and the decision was not solely mine, I am the one who will see you in the dining halls and in the classroom, and I want to take accountability for the hurt you may be feeling while clarifying the motivations for this action.

My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis as an indigenous person. While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder. As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.

The emails filling my inbox indicate that this was not a productive way to start a dialogue about American imperialism. Nor did I imagine that it would be. Please understand that I am grappling with my complicity in the overwhelming legacy of settler colonialism. Part of this process for me is honoring the feelings and wishes of people who find themselves on the other side of this history.

I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki community should in no way be implicated in today’s events. Nor can I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or 9/11.

Today I chose to act in solidarity with my friend, an Indigenous woman and a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy who was appalled to see the burial grounds of another Indigenous nation desecrated by piercing the ground that their remains lay beneath. I understand that this action is confusing and painful for many in my community. I don’t pretend to know if every action I take is right or justified—this process is multi-layered and nuanced. I do know that colonialism has been—and continues to be—a real and destructive force in the world that we live in. And for me, to honor life is to support those who struggle against it.

Please do not hesitate to email me or approach me if you wish to discuss this in person.

President Ron Liebowitz’s Statement, 9/12

To the Middlebury College Community,

 Yesterday, on the 12th anniversary of the horrific attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, a group of Middlebury students commemorated the loss of nearly 3,000 lives by placing American flags in front of Mead Chapel as they have done a number of times in the past. Sadly, a handful of people, at least some of them from our campus community, this year chose to desecrate those flags and disrespect the memories of those who lost their lives by pulling the flags from the ground and stuffing them in garbage bags.

 

 We live in an academic community that fosters and encourages debate and discussion of difficult issues.  It is also a community that requires of all a degree of respect and civility that was seriously undermined and compromised by this selfish act of protest.
Like many of you, I was deeply disturbed by the insensitivity of this act.  Destruction of property and interfering with the rights of others to express themselves violates the standards of our community. The College has begun a disciplinary investigation of this incident.

 

 There is always something to learn from differences of opinion.  In this case, the disrespectful methods of the protesters overshadowed anything that might have been learned from the convictions they claimed to promote.  We will not tolerate this kind of behavior. 

 

Ron Liebowitz

 

  • Peter Wiggen

    The person whose face can be seen in the photo is Anna Shireman-Grabowski

    • appalled

      if disciplinary action should be taken for anything, it honestly should be for something like this. those flags serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives in 9/11 -whether or not they are an appropriate symbol or you agree with their placement is negligible. you wouldn’t go digging up graves in the graveyard because its “on Abenaki land” or because many of the people there were perhaps actual colonizers, so why would you take out the flags? I think it’s extremely insensitive and disrespectful. Moreover, I dont think Middlebury should passively stand by and therefore tacitly sanction this; something needs to happen to let people in this bubble know that they cant pull ridiculous shock stunts without repercussions

    • LK

      Is this definite?

      • Peter Wiggen

        Yes. Confirmation by multiple witnesses.

  • Class of 2010

    This is SHAMEFUL. Yes, the state of Vermont recognizes the Abenaki people, but I don’t see how removing the 9/11 commemoration flags helps their cause in any way. You may as well argue that we should knock down Mead Chapel because its also “built on Abenaki land.” Native Americans have suffered A LOT, nobody can deny that, but there are better ways to draw attention to their plight. Those flags serve to honor innocent lives lost on September 11th. (What did *those* people do to the Abenaki?) These kids are just appropriating 9/11 for this disgraceful little stunt.

    • class of 2009

      Exactly. Why not just knock down the entire college? This sort of thing might seem romantic and cool and all “protest-y” while you’re in college, but I assure you, when you graduate and are out making your own living in the real world, without your parents footing the bill and without being able to always find like-minded people to “justify” your actions, it’s a very different picture. Intelligentsia in the real world are not impressed by things like this.

  • 2014 student

    i think this was a disrespectful action that does not serve the cause for Abenaki peoples rights, recognition, and commemoration. I do however want to know who got to decide that putting up american flags was the way to commemorate and represent the 3,000 innocent lives lost on 9/11. was it just the college republicans that decided to put the flags there or was it on behalf of more people who felt that american flags was a good representation of the innocent lives lost? I would really love an answer on the decision making process to put flags on the lawn. I ask this because i wonder if it would have then been appropriate to not assume all those 3,000 innocent lives would want to be represented by an american flag, like the roughly 350 foreigners who were killed on september 11th attacks? would it be appropriate to put up other flags as well today? And perhaps people do not want a flag to represent and commemorate them at all. I think the flag was what felt offensive and triggering to the people who did this action, as the US flag can be a symbol of imperialism, colonialism, and a lot of murder as well to some people. Perhaps there are other ways in which people can memorialize innocent lives that were lost on 9/11 other than assuming they want to be memorialized by US flags.

    • 2013.5 Student

      The decision to put up the flags was part of a joint effort by the College Republicans and College Democrats to continue a tradition started in 2008. It has happened every year since, is a bi-partisan action of the two clubs, and serves to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11. In response to your concern, do you really think 10-15 students taking an hour out of their busy schedules have the time to go around to each family member of the 9/11 victims and confirm how they would like their brother, sister, mother, husband, father, or son represented for a symbolic memorial at a small liberal arts school in the middle of a state with less than 1/20th the population of New York City? No. Instead of criticizing, you should be thankful we have a group of wonderful caring students who want to carry on the remembrance of that horrible day for generations to come. Regardless of the nationalities of the victims killed, the intent of the terrorists was to attack our country. As a result, I think there is no other symbol better to use than the American flag when erecting this memorial. Good day.

      • CRC

        Damn straight, 2013.5 student. As one of about seven people who put in an hour and a half of their day to erect the memorial, I can tell you that it is a relatively tedious and thankless job. The memorial seeks not to categorize all of the victims as American or make a statement about American superiority or anything like that. It seeks only to provide a trigger for reflection on the 12 years that have passed and a chance to mourn those lost to us. Additionally, it provides a chance to put the event into some perspective. If every student currently enrolled at Middlebury College took the time to plant one flag, we still would be far from the number of flags that deserve to be planted. It is a simple gesture which has quite unintentionally sparked much debate. If students like 2014 Student have further concerns about the construction, composition, or intentions of the memorial, they can feel free to join us in taking it down in a few days, or in revising and erecting the memorial next year. Thanks.

  • Jeffrey Colt

    I understand the idea of the protest, but for heaven sake, do it on Flag Day. Do it on Thanksgiving, do it any time that is not commemorating the lives of lost loved ones. People in our community have family members and friends who were killed. End of story.

  • Will Potter ‘14.5

    Thank you to Julia and Ben for spending the time to erect almost 3,000 flags. As frustrated and angry as I’m sure you feel now, know that the only thing I take from this story is that you both spent the time to commemorate the lives of the many people who unjustly lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

    I’m incredibly proud to go to school with you both and I hope you don’t let the destructive actions of others distract you from your goals.

    May we never forget 9/11 and let us always emerge stronger and more unified in the face of adversity like this.

  • Ben Kinney

    Amazingly, a group of students gathered with me to repost the few flags I was able to wrestle away from the protesters. A public safety report has been filed as well. Thank you to all who have commented with words of encouragement. I think that it is extremely important that September 11th continues to be commemorated so that younger college students who may not remember the events of that tragic day have memories that keep September 11th from ever being just another date.

    • gman213

      Be thankful I wasn’t there…Anna’s clothes would have been out of style when she woke up.

    • Hutson

      Depending on what the flags were worth, could you not file theft or larceny charges against them?

  • guest

    This is truly appalling. What a completely inappropriate and insensitive way to try to get a message across. It’s pretty lame that activists who were aiming to communicate messages of respect committed one of the most disrespectful acts I’ve seen here at Middlebury. So so incredibly disrespectful to all who helped put this memorial together, and more so, to all who were impacted by 9/11.

  • Concerned Community Member

    To all the previous commenters,

    Anna is a student who does a lot of important work at Middlebury College, both in and out of the classroom and she is a loved and respected member of our community. Whatever your opinion is about this bit of protest, it is entirely unfair to villainize Anna just because you happen to be able to see her face in the photo. As the article states, this was a protest conducted by 5 people and I would be interested to hear from these 5 people as to the thought and motivation behind such an act. Calling for her suspension based on a photo and a short middbeat article is totally unfounded and is neither a productive nor respectful way to resolve or further discuss this issue.

    I do not mean to undermine the time and energy put in by the students in charge of setting up the 9/11 memorial, but let’s actually try to understand the reason for this protest as opposed to ganging up in the comment section of an online campus news source. Let’s remember all the loved ones who died as a result of 9/11, but let’s also remember that we are a community of students, faculty, and staff supposedly capable of critical discussion. Clearly both the memorial and the protest triggered emotional responses in people for different reasons. Let’s start to exercise those discussion skills outside the classroom and listen to each other to work through these feelings and begin to create a safer space for all instead of isolate particular individuals in our community and bury the root causes for these feelings even further.

    • Disgusted

      Defend her? Are you serious? This is outrageous. As a recent alum I am absolutely disgusted with anyone involved in this dispicable action.

      More comprehensive response to follow…

    • Disgusted Student

      The time for discussion has passed. Instead of arguing the merits of her protest, your beloved Anna chose to circumvent the exact process of critical discussion you speak of.

      What she’s done in the past is irrelevant. The action of concern is the mutilation of a memorial to those lives lost in a horrific terrorist attack. Moreover, what they did was illegal. But you stand corrected, she was not the only perpetrator. Whoever was involved in this exercise in stupidity should face disciplinary action from the administration.

    • Ben Kinney

      I’m sorry, but she was not looking for critical discussion. I attempted to have a discussion with her as her friend attempted to wrestle a bag of American flags out of my hands. She was not looking for compromise or understanding. She was looking to be offensive and cause a scene.

    • eric

      Define “important work”
      And because shes a respected memeber of YOUR community gives NO justification at all what so ever for what she did. For all the rest of us know… you all hate americans and support terroist acts. Who are you? There are communities full of crime, drugs and prostitution she could be a respected memeber of a communitiy that suppots that. Anna vandilized 2,977 people and all their families because SHE and 5 others felt it was such an insult to the Abenaki indian. She ovbiously has issiues with herself and who she is and the understanding of ” honor” IN which ALL native american tribes upheld to the highest of value.
      defending stupid ignorant people is hard to do… you should stop.

    • Doc

      Well as a combat vet…. I do villify her.. I do denounce her.. and I do wish this moonbat has a life of misfortune and regret. Just to let you know, this issue has spread to veteran circles.. there are millions of us if you moonbats didn’t know and this place is about to get flooded.

      • James Bishop ’90/MIIS ’12

        Agreed. As an alum, I rarely comment on current school issues; however, as a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, I contacted the Alumni Office. I’m reconsidering any future donations until assured that this ignorant act is dealt with.

  • Midd senior

    For the record, there are some of us on this campus grateful for the opportunity to reflect on what it means that our campus is on stolen Abenaki land. 9/11 was an atrocious event, but centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism is a tragedy.

    Julia Madden is quoted saying: “I was dumbfounded that someone could be that disrespectful about something that affected everyone in this country and that everyone should recognize.”

    I can only imagine she is referring to the morally empty reactions to this action being strewn across MeadBeat, the Campus, and Facebook. I hear you, Julia. Colonialism was something that affected everyone in this country (read: the indigenous people who lived here) and is something everyone should recognize, not ignore as the continue effects are very real. Enough of these comments painting over the brutal, murderous history of this country with the loud red, white, and blues of patriotic vitriol. The hypocrisy is too much.

    Honoring life means honoring life. The people (not all Americans) who died on September 11th will not — and should not — be forgotten. Still, hundreds of thousands of people killed in the ‘war on terror’ across the world are never thought of or mentioned let alone memorialized on our campus. Still, American imperialism continues. Still, those who live on with the scars of imperialist greed are ignored.

    Please think about the context in which we live. We need “the wind of history in our sails,” as Walter Benjamin put it. 3000 lives is horrific. Millions is a genocide.

    If you’d like to learn more about neo-colonialism in our country you can read this Guardian article (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/22/un-investigate-us-native-americans) or anything by Andrea Smith (her book Conquest is a good place to start).

    • FWD2013

      But regardless of the worthiness of your cause, you can still be an asshole about it (in fact, it’s easier to do so the more worthy you hold your cause to be). And at a certain point, the medium overwhelms the message, which is fairly clearly what happened here. This is not a way to start a conversation, just a way to start a shouting-match.

      • Midd senior

        A reply to both Nick and FWD2013 (and Peter if your qualms are similar) —

        Please do not get caught up in the means-ends debate that you claim will seduce all of us. The beautiful fact of the dialectical nature of discourse and reality means that instead of thrashing about in the comfort of self-constructed victimhood, we can use our agency to reframe this dialogue into one that illuminates and deepens our understanding of our positionality on the occupied land that the College Democrats and Republicans plunged their flags into. We can find a new way to honor life that doesn’t trigger colonialism-induced scars of all that was done in the name of the flag. I continue to be grateful for the group of people whose actions ignited this conversation because this is a dialogue that our community needs to have. Please do not silence me or anyone else in your efforts to prove that the method overwhelms the message. We are the ones who get to use our words to decide if this is so.

        • L

          Is this a joke? She could have picked any other way to start a dialogue and she picks the most offensive and insensitive option. You think anyone is going to care now or want to talk about Abenaki tribal lands? By using such a foolish and childish method now all she’s going to get is animosity towards her and the Abenaki tribe.

          • student 2014

            you dont think its childish for you to allow ONE persons actions (ones i disagree with) to be the reason midd students will never “care or want to talk about abenaki tribal lands” ? really? we are going to talk about abenaki tribal lands, we as a community are going to acknowledge and pay respect in whatever capacity comfortable to the abenaki communities still in vermont today. i dont care what anna does or doesnt do, this action will NOT stop us from talking about the land in which have been colonized.

          • L

            I’m saying that when she pulls stunts like this, the attention never actually goes to the real issue. She loves offending others and being radical, so much so that the actual cause is lost in the insensitivity of her actions. I’m really upset by this and the first thing that my mind goes to when I think about what happened today is not how we should start a productive dialogue (which she clearly doesn’t care about), but how pissed off I am that she chose such a cruel way to bring attention to the issue. 9/11 is a really tough day for me and many others on campus and maybe if the issue was brought up in a more rational, thoughtful way I could discuss it. Now I’m just furious and starting a conversation about American Imperialism is nowhere near the front of my mind.

        • Midd Alum

          Look Midd senior,

          The fact is that a 9/11 memorial honoring the dead is not the forum to air your grievances about American colonialism. That’s ridiculous. Moreover, wordy, verbose language about the ‘beauty’ of ‘dialectics’ doesn’t change the fact that the act of putting the flag in a garbage bag is disgusting. You want “self-constructed victimhood,” call yourself a “settler on stolen land.” That seems pretty self-constructed to me. As for September 11, leave politics out of it.

          Midd Alum

    • Nick

      You speak as if you are on the side of compassion, and yet you fail to understand how deeply hurtful this act was.

      No one on Middbeat is saying the cause of the Abenaki people (or those who have been hurt by American colonialism) should be disregarded, they are saying that this means of protesting is offensive and disrespectful to members of our community.

      You think that this was a positive event because it allows us an “opportunity to reflect on what it means that our campus is on stolen Abenaki land.” Do you really think anyone will take this movement seriously moving forward?

      This “protest” reads like something the Westboro Baptist Church would do- a bluntly rude and attention seeking gesture that earns you 15 minutes of fame and zero respect.

      • Concerned Community Member

        That comparison makes absolutely no sense. The Westboro Baptist Church attributes 9/11, and all other natural disasters in this country for that matter, to the increasing tolerance of homosexuality in the United States. The Westboro Baptist Church is made up of white supremicists and discriminates against historically oppressed peoples. Instead, this protest was standing up for a people who’s plight at the hands of American colonialists would have gone unnoticed in this community otherwise. You say that “no one…is saying the cause of the Abenaki people…should be disregarded…” But no one was making any effort to “regard” it either.

        • Nick

          I clearly meant the means of protesting not their exact doctrine. Ease up.

        • murphmobile

          They are as far from white supremacists as you can get. They are anti-gay religious bigots. White supremacists don’t generally receive awards from the NAACP. They’re also Democrats, supporters of Al Gore, supporters of seperation of church and state, and completely insane.

    • Peter Wiggen

      Honestly, fuck you

    • Class of 2009

      A very well-written response. But I have to say that the flags and the purpose behind them in this instance had nothing to do with the Abenaki people. Those who put them up were not saying “Hey, let’s put these flags up and stick it to the Abenaki people.” They were saying “Let’s create a commemoration of all those lives lost on 9/11.” This does not mean that they do not care about the Abenaki people, or hold any apathy or disrespect for them. I mean, geez, that’s like saying “What?! You have a Star of David on your wall? Well, clearly you have no respect for Christians. How awful, insensitive and elitist of you. Take it down!” Or, “What?! You have a crucifix on your wall? Well, clearly you have no respect for Jewish people. How awful, insensitive, and elitist of you. Take it down!” I mean, it’s ridiculous. You can find offense in any instance if you want to find it. But you cannot attribute motives to people. Just because people want to commemorate the loss of lives on 9/11 does not mean that they do not care about the injustices inflicted upon the Abenaki people. Really, that’s just absurd. ANd a very juvenile and pseudo-intellectual way to look at things.

    • Eric

      Walter Benjamin died in 1940 pretty sure the world has changed alot since then.
      You talk about thow what it means to you and people on your campus to be on ” stolen Abenaki land ” but you are still there… walking, talking, learning… you think that the Abenaki indians praise you because you acknowledge the fact it was stolen???? and being GRATEFUL that it was taken from them. In which your entire family history and the history of this nation lives on stolen land. You should be grateful for that and the education you are getting because of it.
      The people who took the flags out of the ground were in fact morally wrong.
      You care more about dead Abenaki people who died a long time ago, than you care about the people who lived and died in vain just like the Abenaki on 9/11.
      History repeats itself because humans allow it to by quoting people who lived hundreds of years ago and basing actions and decions off of them.
      Dead Abenaki indians.. honoring them over americans because it was stolen? maybe you should stop reading books and start living life.

    • Doc

      You do realize that they didn’t evolve here and came from Asia over the Bering land bridge right? Are you sure the Abenaki didn’t take the land from some other tribe? You realize none of this has a single damned thing to do with you right? You realize this was, going on 200 years ago right? Friggin moonbats.

    • murphmobile

      Why are you paying a hefty amount of money to attend a school that was built on stolen Abenaki land? Morally empty you say?

  • ap

    As one of the folks involved in the so-called despicable action, I would like to clarify for this community that we were not “there on behalf of the Abenaki people” rather, we were acting in solidarity with our friend, a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

    • Jeff M

      The Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s land starts on the other side of the lake, you may have been missled

    • Majicat

      Yea, and you are so proud to have taken part – you won’t sign your name. I hope you get outed and then removed from school.
      Your parents (who are no doubt footing the bill for your education) must be so proud. I doubt that “ap” was misled – I think “ap” is just stupid.

      • student not involved

        ….read the whole article and statement shared by Anna. The other people who took part in this were NOT midd students and one was in fact a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and was deeply offended by the flags pierced into abenaki burial ground.

        • Midd Student

          the middlebury campus is pretty open. if you look like a student you can easily walk right into the dining hall and eat there for free.

        • eric

          Was the citizen of Haudenosaunee Confederacy a Abenaki Indian? Someone is always offended deeply by something.

        • murphmobile

          What does it have to do with the Haudenosaunee citizen? That would be akin to me blowing up the Dome of the Rock on behalf of Jews because it was built on the Temple Mount. Really really dumb action.

    • Ryan Marc

      Sounds like Jeff just made you a fool. Hope it hurts.

  • ’10

    As a recent alum, I am interested by this dialogue. I would not have pulled up the flags myself, but I am, frankly, more disturbed by the attitudes of a lot of the posters here, particularly the one who chose to post the name of the individual in the photograph. I find Middlebury students to be thoughtful and engaged as a whole, and I am disappointed that the tone of the comments here do not live up to that standard. I can (and do) still honor the victims of 9/11 with thoughts and prayers. However, I also hope that there are a number of folks who would be awfully wary of this type of unreasoned rally-around-the-flag vitriol. The kind of rhetoric that led us to war in Iraq and thousands more casualties. Moreover, early American conduct towards Native Americans is considered by many to be a tragedy as well, and the business of ranking tragedies is a sticky subject. Is this an inconsiderate action? Undoubtedly. Despicable? Far from it.

    • Parker Woodworth ‘13.5

      I think you may have overlooked the fact that those who perpetrated this seem to have also skipped over productive dialogue. Did they contact the memorial organizers with their concerns before taking action?

      I cannot imagine that there are any students on this campus who would not gladly engage in a discussion on either of your points if they were raised in a reasonable fashion.

      • Parker Woodworth ‘13.5

        To clarify: I don’t mean to imply an assumption; I’d actually like an answer to that. It will be very revealing as to the character of these perpetrators.

        • Ben Kinney

          I was in charge of setting up the memorial, which College Republicans and College Dems has done in a joint effort for the last six years. I was never contacted by the group, and when I attempted to engage in dialog to find an alternate solution at the protest (i.e. they give the flags back and we can erect them elsewhere) the group refused, made offensive comparisons between Americans and Nazis, threatened to “come back for Mead Chapel” and literally tore one of the garbage bags of flags (paid for by the organization I co-chair) out of my hands. They were not looking to be “reasonable” or have any “productive dialog” they were looking to make a scene.

  • Jon Isham

    I have just written this letter to the Addison Independent: “The Middlebury College community should condemn with one voice today’s desecration by several individuals of the Mead Chapel flag memorial, which was created by College Republicans and Democrats in honor of those lost on 9/11. In the hours after this act of desecration, the Middlebury Campus has reported that five protestors placed the 2977 miniature flags into black trash bags. No cause; no fight for social justice; no thirst to right past wrongs can justify such a callous, thoughtless act. Shame on these perpetrators. May the college identity them and hold them responsible, with vigor and moral authority.”

    • Ben Kinney

      This is awesome.

    • Zach Drennen

      Thank you

    • be compassionate

      i recommend you read Anna’s letter posted above before you make statements that she and the others had “no cause; no fight for social justice” when they carried about this action.

      • Jon Isham

        Read the sentence carefully: “No cause; no fight for social justice; no thirst to right past wrongs ***can justify such a callous, thoughtless act.***’

    • be compassionate

      Jon, I recommend you read Anna’s statement (posted above) before you make a statement that she and the other non-middlebury students had “No cause; no fight for social justice; no thirst to right past wrongs can justify such a callous, thoughtless act.” it’s just not true.

      • Jon Isham

        I have now read Anna’s statement and I stand by what I have written: no cause can justify this action.

        • Student

          Jon, have you reached out to Anna at all? It seems unreasonable that this action is so objectionable to you that, as a Middlebury professor, mentor, and community member, you found it more appropriate to hastily write to the Addison Independent and comment in this space than to reach out to Anna directly. While you did not have control over Anna’s actions, you do have control over your response to them. Clearly Anna was not operating from a place of hate, but rather from one of compassion, and yet your response and many others suggest the opposite. Try defaulting to a place of understanding and a willingness to have dialogue as opposed to a place of condemnation, especially as someone in a position of power on campus.

          • Zach Drennen

            You write this assuming that Jon has not tried in the past to engage her with reasonable discussion

          • Jon Isham

            Believe me ‘student’, that letter was not written in haste. And the audience for that letter is not Anna; it is the entire college and town community. And the letter is not ‘condemnation’ – it is a statement of my personal opinion. As for my commenting in this space, I think Midd Beat has provided an outstanding medium for an exchange of ideas. And in a real way, it gives us *all* power to share our raw thoughts, using our own names or – in your case – anonymously. That’s no exercise of power; it’s an exercise of lively, welcomed debate.

          • student

            “The Middlebury college community should condemn with one voice today’s desecration…” It sounds like your “personal opinion” is that this act should indeed be condemned. However, I did not mean to suggest that your words were not carefully chosen but that the act of writing the letter itself unreasonably preempted other steps that could have been taken to have a direct dialogue with Anna and/or the other individuals involved in this action. Midd Beat has provided a space for exchanging ideas but it is certainly not the only space, and I would still encourage face-to-face discussion with Anna.

            To your last point, there is a power dynamic present in every debate and ignoring its presence does not make it go away. As a professor, your power extends beyond this comment section into your classroom, office, and everywhere you go on campus. Publicly condemning a student’s actions without first attempting to understand that student’s motivations and relevant experiences (you still have not addressed whether you did, indeed, make this effort) has implications well beyond this comment section. Students other than Anna might now be more hesitant to come to you to talk about any number of things or voice their opinions in class for fear of being “condemned” or disregarded. For instance, I am purposefully remaining anonymous, not because I am ashamed of what I have to say, but for the very reason that I would not feel safe being in one of your classes after having dissented to your opinion with my real name.

            Apologies for getting away from the original intention of dialogue surrounding the Abenaki lands and the responses this action has aroused, but I feel it is important to establish that in order to have any effective conversation about these issues it is necessary to first acknowledge the power dynamics inherent in them.

          • Jon Isham

            With all due respect ‘student,’ I personally am not interested in a ‘dialogue’ with Anna [who was not yet identified as a perpetrator of this act when I sent and posted my letter] or any of the others involved in this act of vandalism.

            I strongly reject the notion that people should feel ‘unsafe’ with professors and others because they have disagreed with them. I see that claim as a cop-out. Like many other comments on this thread, it’s an attempt to obfuscate discussion about the rightness or wrongness of an action with a broad claim that what’s really at stake is to acknowledge others’ feelings, their motivations, and experiences; and that anyone who does not want to get into such a discussion of feelings, etc. is somehow not on the side of social justice. In my opinion, that kind of full-bore approach about process, not content (an approach which too often comes with a huge dose of self-righteousness and superciliousness) is anti-intellectual and not in the best traditions of social change.

            So ‘student,’ we will have to disagree about power and the advisability of my sharing, as a member of this community, my opinions in public. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

          • annoyed

            Her so called compassion was in her words, directed at the colonialism and blah blah, multi-layered blah blah.

            She did not compassionately reach out to the people actually affected by this. She doesn’t know their stance. She compassionately raked their name through the mud. She “compassionately” undid the tribute that took money, time and effort for other students to coordinate, get permission for and carry out. Her compassion sounds an awful lot like selfishness to me.

          • Ryan Marc

            If she had compassion she would have read some history books, American’s and the American flags had nothing to do with the Abenaki natives. Most of their population was wiped out 150 years before America was even a nation. By the time America became a nation, there were only 1,000 and they were totally assimilated into colonial life. I am not condoning what America did to the Plain natives during the 19th century, however the Abenaki had nothing to do with America, their time ended well before we were even a nation.

          • R. Aaron

            That is not compassion. Compassion would have involved bringing the matter to light to see a compromise not play on the emotions of others for the gain of 1.

          • Doc

            I doubt any amount of reaching out will bring this moonbat’s thinking in alignment with reality. She is a lost cause who will never have any meaningful social relationship after college and will generally be regarded as a ‘complete and total bitch’ for the rest of her life.

          • steves_59

            Anna was operating from a place of compassion? Seriously?
            Are you defending what she did?
            The world has gone crazy.

    • Jennifer

      Good lord, not more of the “Jon Isham Middbeat Comment Soapbox Hour.” For christ’s sake, Jon, we know you’re in love with your own voice, but don’t you have enough suffering students to jabber at? Your brand of narcissism is an interesting one in that it requires you to constantly prove it. Again, WE KNOW YOU LOVE YOUR OWN VOICE! The irony here is that you and Anna are identical in this sense. Neither of you seem content unless you’re lecturing.

      Ug, Jon, your electronic voice is making my head hurt. And the masturbational compliments from your faux-do-gooder-superduperliberal-factotum Mr. Zach Drennan make me want to run away to Brandon!

      Please stop. Grade some homework or something.

      • Midd 13.5

        I believe his last name is spelled “Drennen.” You can find the proper spelling throughout this comment section if you’re having trouble. Good day.

      • Zach Drennen

        What is a factotum?

      • HealthyAmerican

        You call his (apparently) many comments ‘masturbatory’ and in the same breath admit that you go around reading all of them. So what exactly are you doing? Fellating?

      • David Goldsworthy

        LOL!

  • Zach Drennen

    Anna, if you claim to be so empathetic with the pain in your friend’s heart caused by those lost to violence in the past, why would you try and remedy that by bringing more pain to other people on this of all days?

    • class of 14

      i dont think decisions in life are always that simple Zach. sometimes you are put in a position between a rock and a hard place. there is not always a clear moral answer. i can understand why anna wanted to be empathetic towards her friend, she in no way is claiming her decision was the right one. its much more nuanced and i think reading many of the comments which you have written i see you have lost a lot of compassion towards a women who is in a tough spot and is taking responsibility for her actions and i honestly believe her heart is in the right place. please show more compassion. i think we could all use a little more compassion in the way we respond to painful things, including anna.

      • Zach Drennen

        If she doesn’t think her decision was the right one, she should not have done it. End of story. Friendship sometimes means telling friends that they are wrong.

      • Midd 13.5

        You have got to be kidding me. She’s an adult and there’s a certain responsibility in being an adult. Part of that is taking responsibility for your own actions, whether knowingly or otherwise. If this was any other crime, that defense would never stand up in court. It shouldn’t stand up here either. I look forward to seeing her face whatever strong repercussions the school as well as law enforcement has in store for her.

        • Doc

          She is a liberal.. Responsibility never enters into anything.

      • steves_59

        More nuanced? How can you possibly say this?
        This woman is clearly misguided, clearly an attention-monger, and she’s earned every bit of scorn she is receiving.
        Your comment is complicit in what she did.

  • L

    WE GET IT ANNA YOU LOVE ATTENTION. This is not the first time she or her cohort of “anarchist” friends (yes, I’ve heard them refer to themselves as anarchists) have chosen to alienate the Middlebury community just to bring attention to themselves. Yes, we may be on an Abenaki burial ground, but disrespecting the most traumatizing day of our generation is going to bring nothing but animosity and disrespect for Anna and her friends. She knows this isn’t the way to start a productive dialogue, she just wants to piss people off because she has this delusion that somehow it is an effective way to bring change. Because of the way she went about purposely offending almost everyone on campus, not a single person is concerned with the fact that this is a burial ground. Now everybody just hates Anna because she’s an insensitive vandal who doesn’t want anything more than to cause a stir and make people upset. I doubt she knows a single member of the Abenaki tribe. This was just a way for her to get more attention and infamy but I don’t think this time people are just going to write her off as one of those DLWC psychos. If anyone had a single ounce of respect for anything she had to say before, it’s surely gone now.

    Anna: you’re an embarrassment to the Middlebury campus. If you seriously hate everything we do and stand for here as much as you act like you do, no one has any issue with you leaving. Good riddance.

    I don’t think she’s even technically a student here this semester, although I’ve been seeing her and her non-student cohort freeloading off of the dining halls. I hope the administration finally grows a pair and takes some action against her and her blatant disrespect for those who still suffer everyday from the tragedy of 9/11.

    • Guest

      Anna is a student here this semester. While I completely disagree with her actions taken today, I have a tremendous amount of respect for people willing to stand up for their beliefs. I think that making Anna into a villain is counterproductive and quite frankly extremely immature. I think that we live in a community where we should be able to disagree, call people out on things, and start dialogue, but that community will not be built if we do not treat each other like human beings. You say “If you seriously hate everything we do and stand for here as much as you act like you do, no one has any issue with you leaving.” However, it is important to challenge things and not only accept the status quo. It is not about hating anything, but rather about critically thinking about things that you take for granted. I agree, this action was poorly timed and poorly executed, but calling someone out will not help create a supportive environment in which to learn from one another. I challenge you to talk to Anna directly before writer her off as a “DLWC psycho” or any other broad generalization.

      • Midd 13.5

        You argue that “community will not be built if we do not treat each other like human beings.” What Anna did today, the way she disrespected many of the students impacted by 9/11, was an inhumane action. It was offensive and disrespectful, as we have stated. Thinking critically is a part of the Middlebury experience. So is challenging the status quo. What she did is not. Those who perpetrate such actions are not the type of people I want in my community. I have no problem with her leaving.

        • Guest

          Thank you for pointing this out. I agree that this was a poorly thought out action that did not treat others with respect. However, I think it is important to remember that people make mistakes. People take risks that sometimes don’t work out. And yes, while this particular action was harmful, it is fair to give people more than one chance. Furthermore, name calling will not solve the problem, but rather polarize the community.

          • L

            In case you’ve been living under a rock, she has had more than one chance. Remember when she invited a BP exec to come just so she and her friends could harass him and pretend to pass out and convulse when he was trying to give the lecture he was invited to give? I remember that made such an important impact on the dialogue about divestment. Oh wait no, it was another classic example of Anna and her friends being disrespectful for the sake of attention. Don’t try to act like she’s naive through all of this. The DLWC are probably the the ones commenting in support of Anna. This isn’t about making a mistake, she knows EXACTLY what she’s doing.

          • Exasperated from Class of ’09

            They really did that when a BP executive came up to talk? Good lord. I was born and raised in New Orleans, and moved back there after graduating; the spill, I’m venturing to guess, did not affect this girl in any way, shape or form. The fact that she used it as an attention-mongering opportunity for herself and her friends is insulting. Behaving that way did nothing to help us recover down here. Again, it’s that desire to seem romantic, cool, “protest-y,” and edgy for nothing other than– what? Attention? I mean honestly, how on earth could that have done anything to help those of us down here whose livelihoods were damaged or ruined? I’d think she’d be more concerned with helping the people down here than with making a spectacle of herself. I think it’s important to look at that sort of “protesting,” which seems to happen a lot on college campuses, and really think about what you’re trying to do vs. what you SAY you’re trying to do. People down here weren’t convulsing and affecting histrionics, they were dealing with lawyers and court fees and trying to get themselves and their families back on their feet. Her sort of behavior seems to trivialize the people who were affected. Admittedly, I’m just responding to the above post; I’m curious to know whether there is any more information on this instance.

          • Doc

            Liberal activists are the bane of western civilization

          • bet0001970

            I think you mean “progressive”. Liberals don’t act that way. They’re actually quite rational and decent people.

          • steves_59

            Holy crap cakes. Didn’t know this.
            In that case, then she’s a loony toon and whatever abuse gets heaped on her for her dimwitted and hurtful actions, she deserves.

          • Jay17145

            The hyphenated surname is the giveaway. Given the circumstances that would lead to a woman insisting upon having two last names, it can be safely concluded that nothing good could ever come from such a person. Think about it.

        • Guest

          I also think that it is important to build a discussion about ways to promote positive activism on this campus rather than focusing on negative activism.

      • R. Aaron

        Challenging things and doing things out of spite are completely different things. What exactly is she challenging here? The right of people to mourn losses?

      • FrTDM

        It seems that Anna is herself immature. It is one thing to speak out, speak out in disagreement with wildly divergent views, however one does not remove others’ rights of speech to do this.

      • Guest

        Does anyone know her email? I’m actually really interested in asking her a few questions out of simple curiosity.

      • gman213

        No one made her out to be a villain, a picture is worth a thousand words…villain is the first that comes to mind.

      • gman213

        And as for you? You are weasel for not having a backbone and calling what she did for what it is….Which was STUPID

      • jelena mihaljcic

        “While I completely disagree with her actions taken today, I have a tremendous amount of respect for people willing to stand up for their beliefs.”
        Hitler, Pol Pot, and every other despot and dictator throughout history also “stood up for” their “beliefs”. People whose “beliefs” are based on the suppression of the beliefs of others should not be “respected” nor condoned by a civil society.

      • HealthyAmerican

        This is not an act of standing up for one’s own beliefs. It’s an act that tramples the rights of someone else in the attempt to seek attention for one’s self. It’s a fascist mentality, and “Anna” should be expelled for engaging in such intolerant behavior.

      • SL

        >>” I have a tremendous amount of respect for people willing to stand up for their beliefs.”

        What an empty and amoral statement. I won’t even bother to Godwin it.

      • middkid2000

        There is a difference between “protest” and disrespect. Protests are generally intended to raise awareness about issues or make change. What happened at Middlebury at 9/11 was not a protest. According to news reports, the people who perpetrated this act “hurriedly” removed the flags and left. If you’re going to stand for something, stand for it. Don’t run and hide. Yell it from the rooftops, sit silently in protest holding a sign or something. Instead, this was an act of disrespect. As a Middlebury alum who graduated a year before the attacks, I take comfort in the fact that an institution I feel a strong connection to took the time to erect this memorial. It shows that even if the students who currently attend do not remember what happened that day, they respect the shared pain of a community that suffered loss and tragedy because of the horrific attacks.
        As has been mentioned, that area has buildings, sidewalks, lamp posts, and other structures that have been on that ground for decades. A well-thought, respectful way to express outrage at disrespecting a sacred burial ground may have argued for the total removal of any structure on that plot of land, and educated the community of the presence of that burial ground. This student did nothing of the sort — which is why so many people are dumbfounded at what she did.
        Before you or anyone else generalizes me, understand that people who think very differently, who respect different opinions and everyone’s right to express them, can also feel very sad that this happened. I am a proud liberal, a proud supporter of our troops, a proud anti-war protester, an American distressed about the fact that we have lost more than 6,000 military members in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered more than 50,000 seriously wounded, and a very proud patriot who loves her country and wants to work with everyone to make it the best it can be.
        This is nothing less than a cowardly, disrespectful, uneducated, spiteful and lawless act. I’m incredibly disappointed in this young woman, and I predict that one day, when she’s had a little more life experience, she will look back on what she did with shame and regret. In the meantime, she should educate herself on what desecretation means, and make a serious attempt at developing some humility.

    • Izzy Moreno

      Change.

    • Izzy Moreno

      Change. I don’t think she gonna change.

    • Hutson

      I wonder how much the flags were worth. They could be charged for theft even a felony if they cost a significant amount. It would seem some of them have already confessed, time to bring charges against them. Teach them that there are consequences for the “activism”.

    • troutmagic2

      She and her cronies are just pigs!

  • Midd ’11

    Some commenters have expressed feeling “appalled” or “disgusted.”

    Personally, I feel confused.

    I am confused about why Ms. Shireman-Grabowski and her cohorts did not attempt to make their case before removing the flags. Why didn’t they provide some evidence that the land into which the flags were planted is a Native American burial ground? (I attempted to find such evidence and found nothing.) Why didn’t they suggest an alternative way to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11?

    Perhaps the land on which the flags were planted is indeed a Native American burial ground. If so, then perhaps the flags should be planted elsewhere. Considering the size of the campus, the burial ground can’t encompass all college property, so it wouldn’t be too hard to find a different, more suitable location.
    The protesters would have been much wiser to have attempted to start a dialogue *before* taking an action they must have known would offend a great many people. I hope they will provide some evidence supporting their claims in the coming days and attempt to make their points in a more productive manner.

    • Ben Kinney

      As far as I, Middlebury College, and the few Abenaki Tribal members I contacted today are aware, Middlebury College is not built on Abenaki Burial Ground. Shireman-Grabowski’s claims are, as far as anyone can tell, completely misinformed and possibly self-invented.

  • John Hawley

    As hard as it might be, I’d like to encourage community members to not let this overshadow what this day should have really been about. I grew up in NYC and 9/11 happened when I was in 4th grade. I remember being pulled out of class by sobbing teachers, I remember not knowing if my dad would make it home from work that day, and I remember friends whose parents didn’t make it home. I remember people walking around with masks for weeks and policemen in the subway with machine guns taller than I was. I remember everyone being really really scared.

    But I also remember the city, and the nation, coming together in a way that I don’t think we have seen any other time in our generation. I remember the first responders who ran back in to the building when everyone else was running out, and I remember the volunteers who flooded in from around the country, doing anything they could to help. I remember the candlelight vigils and neighbors who had never spoken to each other suddenly hugging and crying on each others’ shoulders.

    For me, 9/11 is a day that brings up a lot of pain and a lot of sadness. But it’s also a day that reminds me of how powerful a community can be when it comes together. It’s a day that makes me hopeful in a lot of ways.

    I think what Anna did was hurtful and poorly conceived. I don’t think it was done with malice, but I do think it was done without the sort of reflection and focus on constructive dialogue that Middlebury aims to instill in its students.

    But it doesn’t ruin this day for me. It’s a day that makes me angry and sad and those are feelings that would be easy to direct at Anna, but that’s a choice I choose not to make, simply because those aren’t the sort of emotions I want to focus on.

    Today I choose to remember and honor the bravery of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and the bravery of those who tried to pick up the shattered buildings and families that were left behind. No stupid fucking protest is going to stop me from doing so.

    • Ben Kinney

      Thank you. This is perfectly said.

  • Exasperated from Class of ’09

    I have to say that the flags and the purpose behind them in this instance had nothing to do with the Abenaki people. Those who put them up were not saying “Hey, let’s put these flags up and stick it to the Abenaki people.” They were saying “Let’s create a commemoration of all those lives lost on 9/11.” This does not mean that they do not care about the Abenaki people, or hold any apathy or disrespect for them. I mean, geez, that’s like saying “What?! You have a Star of David on your wall? Well, clearly you have no respect for Christians. How awful, insensitive and elitist of you. Take it down!” Or, “What?! You have a crucifix on your wall? Well, clearly you have no respect for Jewish people. How awful, insensitive, and elitist of you. Take it down!” I mean, it’s ridiculous. You can find offense in any instance if you want to find it. But you cannot attribute motives to people. Just because people want to commemorate the loss of lives on 9/11 does not mean that they do not care about the injustices inflicted upon the Abenaki people. Really, that’s just absurd. And a very juvenile and pseudo-intellectual way to look at things.

    And using the logic that the flags were set up on Abenaki burial ground, why not just knock down the entire college? This sort of thing might seem romantic and cool and all “protest-y” while you’re in college, but I assure you, when you graduate and are out making your own living in the real world, without your parents footing the bill and without being able to always find like-minded people to “justify” your actions, it’s a very different picture. Intelligentsia in the real world are not impressed by things like this.

    (I’d put these as comments below, but they aren’t showing up on my computer for some reason).

  • CRC

    Quick question: How, pray tell, was anyone supposed to know that those were Abenaki burial grounds?! That hill has a chapel on it for fuck’s sake! Put up a sign or a plaque commemorating those buried underneath with a polite reminder not to “pierce the Earth” if you want people to be sensitive to any offense that might be caused while innocently poking some sticks in the ground. Also, the only reason we think that hill is an Abenaki burial ground is because those “activists” said so. Where is it written?

    And one more point: I didn’t see anybody take out the stakes bordering the sidewalks by Mead Chapel when they were re-seeded this spring. Didn’t those pierce the ground, too? Let’s protest the landscapers!

    Some people, I swear. In light of today’s events, I hope that all of you readers were able pay due respect to those lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and keep the struggles that continue on today in your thoughts. It’s a rough world we live in nowadays, and we gotta be smart about navigating it.

  • class of 2013

    I think the people involved in this protest made a big mistake. I think everyone agrees they’ve made a mistake. While I would like to hear productive conversation continue, I would also like to hear the hateful words stop. Anna is not a bad person. She is worthy of forgiveness, especially if she expresses, as I believe she did, resentment for her actions. My sympathies on this day are with the families of loved ones who were killed or injured in the world trade center attacks. My sympathies are also with Anna, who has been made (/made herself) a pariah in her small community. She is naive, not evil.

    • Midd’15

      Thank you for posting this. It is very much needed.

    • Midd alum ’80

      “Anna is not a bad person.” Perhaps not. I do not know her. But she is very self-centered, selfish, and immature individual. How selfish to choose this particular way to make a political point — on the tragedy of nearly 3,000 deaths. Quite disgusting, really. Isn’t Anna also the protest leader of divestment and anti-pipeline campaigns on campus in town? My point is, which “cause” is true to her? Or are none, and she is really all about the shock value and attention these three causes have brought to her. Seems that way. I hope the college, which offers so many ways a student can opine on these issues (imperialism, inequality, tribal rights, and more) and learn better tactics to bring change to unfair situations, shows it will not tolerate such insensitive and selfish actions to discredit the special community and learning environment I remember so well.

    • Zhong_xiao_V

      You are mistaken.
      Anna is a bad person and she should feel bad.

      Her pathetic little round of attention-w#0ring was deeply hurtful to anyone who lost friends on September 11th or in the wars since then. Her addiction to attention caused her to disengage her higher reasoning faculties and go out of her way to commit a hurtful and insensitive act. Good people don’t do these things.

  • Dave

    visibilize?

  • robdoeslife

    “Visibilize”? Seriously?

  • Cailey Cron 2013.5

    Come on, Middlebury. We’re better than this. I don’t care if you’re joking or trolling or “attention-w#oring.” If there’s one thing that we can agree on here, it should be that violent threats like this are absolutely unacceptable.

  • sum dewd

    how do i email her if i dont go to school there?

  • Midd Alum ’10

    The appropriation of victimhood by a group of privileged individuals does not absolve them from the moral responsibility for their actions, which have clearly touched a nerve amongst a community of people for whom the collective terror and loss of life on 9/11 is a still-healing scar. Nor should the protestors attempt to displace responsibility onto all “settlers of stolen lands” in order to gain some sort of murky higher ground. It seems to me that an apology should be made to the Abenaki tribe on behalf of the protestors for attempting to justify this protest in their name – especially since the Haudenosaunee Confederacy does not include the Abenaki people.

  • SJ

    Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I appreciate her strong, conflicting feelings about the complex historical legacy of the United States and the indigenous people who lived here. Completely fair, and I think it’s good that people are willing to help them in the fight for there rights. HOWEVER, if she truly cared about the plight of the Abenaki people, there are some things she should have thought through before taking such a provocative action. For one, did she verify that the site is a Abenaki burial ground? There seems to be some question about this, and one would think that being right in the middle of a college campus, someone would know. Did she even consult a member of the Abenaki tribe to get their take on this? She seems to assume that in a personal statement, she can simply shift blame onto herself, but the fact of the matter is, by doing this action in their name, she has placed the tribe in a difficult position that it may not have wanted to be in. It’s imperialism, no different than what she claims she’s fighting, by taking actions “for their own good” without even thinking of what they thought. This is particularly true because she is taking an EXTREMELY provocative act, one that is equally disrespectful to the piercing of the burial ground. She is extremely naive at best, hurting the people she claims to be fighting for, or at worst, is an imperialist, abusing indigenous people to forward her own agenda.

    • Doc

      Indigenous? Didn’t they come over the land bridge from Asia? Did the Abenaki always live on that land or did they take it from another tribe earlier in their history?

  • Annoyed at the childishness

    Just a point. not her people. not your people. Maybe you should have talked to someone personally linked to them before acting on their behalf. After all, nobody is repeating the name Haudenosaunee….but mentioning the Abenaki….they are the ones who will have to deal with your actions. Maybe if you had 1-talked to them to see how they felt instead of assuming 2-talked to those responsible for the initial tribute and 3-quit assuming that it is YOUR job to act like you are going to honor life by hurting the efforts of others. Instead of bringing the issue to the public and letting them know about the “heinous” crime you saw happening with flags….you chose to be destructive. Next time, try speaking out first…they may have been willing to move the tribute and honor both groups. But now, you made the Abenaki look petty and you did not honor anyone….you just showed everyone your selfish attitude.

    Colonialism is not an issue at this college. Nobody is actively pursuing that right now so don’t claim that you are dealing with nuanced layers…it’s simple. You were immature and childish, lashing out and demanding that everyone do what you want. Hopefully, as a college student, you have learned to speak in public, to write and to communicate. Try that next time you get the urge to demonstrate.

    Demonstrations have a place….but not before taking steps to handle the situation with the group directly responsible.

  • Alum

    Do they still only plant American flags on 9/11 at Midd? Do they also plant flags commemorating victims from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bermuda,
    Canada, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Cuba, DR Congo, the Dominican
    Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti,
    Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan,
    Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand,
    Nigeria, Panama, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Poland, Russia, South
    Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago,
    the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela?

    • Midd Alum ’10

      That would be an interesting (and very Midd-like) change to the tradition, reflecting even greater respect for the victims. I would like to see it.

    • murphmobile

      Apparently only American flags. Have you suggested the change or are you just anonymously complaining online?

    • Zhong_xiao_V

      Well, if you pony up the money for the flags, maybe they would take your idea into consideration.

  • guy

    take down the school then….ur on there land!

  • Leo

    Feel free to leave this “imperialist” land you apparently despise. I promise – there are thousands of persons from other countries who would trade places with you. Search and find a wonderful country that does not colonize, that has not made mistakes, that is perfect…good luck.
    In the mean time – understand that when you make statements “And for me, to honor life is to support those who struggle against it” – further indicated you have a complete lack of understanding as to the world. This display was posted to HONOR those who had lost their lives 12 years ago. I wonder – where were you last year? Where were you years ago when that nice sidewalk was dug out, prepared, and poured over this same “burial ground?” Where were you 12 years ago when this horrible crime took place? Oh…you were a child…
    Child – you appear to be smart, you have a wonderful opportunity to further your education, and you have a lot of growth and maturity yet to face. I urge you – LEARN from this stupid mistake. LEARN from your elders. LEARN – as this “imperialist” country has. We are not perfect. We are even now making mistakes. But we are LEARNING! There have been repeated attempts at reparations across many ethnic and racial lines in these United States – I challenge you to find another country that has done the same. There have been repeated apologies for our actions in the past. We have LEARNED…I pray you do too.
    In the mean time – feel free to desecrate memorials, to pull foolish stunts, to make judgments, to anger others – these are a part of you learning process. Perhaps, next time, you could spend a few minutes of research and learning before…but go ahead – pull up flags, mishandle the symbols of our nation, and trod on the hearts and souls of others – and I will defend your right to do just that. In fact, I have defended your right to act a fool…for 26 years, over 6 deployments, in 4 different conflicts…and I have a large group of friends and fellow airmen, soldiers, and sailors who are even now defending your right to trod on others…know that, and LEARN!

  • snafubar

    “My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis as an indigenous person.”

    I have two issues here. Number one, it is my understanding from having read the background of this despicable action that even though that Miss hyphenated name Anna Shireman-Grabowski stated her friends was an offended native American, this is not really the case. So Miss hyphenated name Anna Shireman-Grabowskiis lying.

    She is a liar. And she caused pain. And I believe that WAS her intention. I’m sure she is all “for” a mosque at ground zero.

    Number two, is “visibilize” even a word in the English language? I don’t think so.

    I understand that leftists like to create their own words, like “ebonics”, but that doesn’t make the word legitimate.

    I can see that this overpriced, over-rated Vermont liberal arts college has provided Miss hyphenated name Anna Shireman-Grabowski a fine Communist education, and a command of the English language (NOT).

    But what can we expect from the left wing America haters attending New England liberal arts colleges, especially in Vermont, the land of Communist politicians?

    Hey, Anna, if you hate America so much, feel free to leave ANYTIME.

    • Mike Gadomski ‘13.5

      I think this is the website you were looking for: http://www.foxnews.com/

      • snafubar

        Considering that the top story at http://www.foxnews.com/ is “Union Revolt over Obamacare – AFL-CIO Up in Arms over Plan Costs”, it’s not a stretch to say that this story and that one are related in the sense that they’re both a bunch of whiny liberals who hate America.

        I have just as much right to comment on this story as you.

        Here’s the website I think you were looking for…

        http://www.cpusa.org/

        • Guest

          You’re adorable.

          Look at all the communists! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Governors_of_Vermont

          • snafubar

            And you’re a snot nosed punk. I’ve been around a lot longer than you and have seen Vermont change from a true patriotic American Yankee state to a state of utter confusion. The last true Republican governor in the state of VT was Thomas Salmon.

            If you think that having a (D) or (R) after your name changes your left wing progressive leanings, you really do need an education. Even the latest (R) governor was a Russian studies major. Howard Dean? Patrick Leahy? Bernie Sanders? Don’t even go there.

            Vermont maintains a sister-state relationship with Karelia, Russia, and was started in 1991 under the governorship of Madeline Kunin.

            So why don’t you lay off the guitar and drugs for a while and hit the books. If that is too much for you, then I suppose you can go do bong hits and ecstasy with Anna, then, go write an anti-American diatribe about how Bush conspired with Israel to take down the WTC towers. It’s probably what you are good at.

            Your parents must be proud, especially if they’re 60’s hippies living on a pot farm in VT.

          • Mike Gadomski

            Alright to be honest I deleted the comment (which I didn’t realize changes it to a guest post on the Disqus commenting system) because I don’t really feel like engaging with you. Watching paint dry would be more intellectually stimulating.

            I’ll just say this: please don’t tell me to “hit the books”. You think that being a Russian studies major makes you a communist. You think that being a member of the Democratic Party makes you a communist. You think that going to a liberal arts college makes you a communist. You think that because I disagree with something you said that my parents are “60’s hippies living on a pot farm in VT” (hint: they’re not; leave them out of this). You detest Anna as much for her hyphenated last name as for the act she is responsible for (which, for the record, I absolutely do not agree with). Your opinion on dissent can roughly be summarized as “America: if you don’t like it you can get out”. And you think that because of your singular experience in the workforce that you can say that white privilege has been replaced by black privilege in the United States? Your views are so far out of touch with reality that they resemble parody, and spelling out their various absurdities for you has truly been a waste of my time. I say this as a member of no political party–Democratic, Republican, Communist, or otherwise. What’s sad and unfortunate is that none of this has anything to do with the actual issue at hand, but alas–welcome to the internet. I’m going to go now.

          • Doc

            HA! A liberal says someone is out of touch with reality.. Moonbat.

          • snafubar

            No, I think that following Communist policies and ideals makes you a Communist. If you don’t think that Vermont politics is about as far left as you can go in America, it is YOU, not ME that is out of touch with reality. The fact is, you are so immersed in it you don’t even notice it.

            I have spent MUCH time in Vermont, I know a lot about the people who live there and the way they think politically. I go there because I love to ski, not because I am into left wing politics. The left is in the process of destroying what is left of this once great country, and you don’t think the left is destroying America, then you are part of the problem. Your views are based on the propaganda you have been spoon fed since you were a baby, and that you have bought into hook, line and sinker. If anyone disagrees with your views, well then, they must be “out of touch” with reality.

            If someone wants to insult the memory of 3,000 people and slap America in the face while doing so in their “apology”, then maybe they really SHOULD go somewhere else where they won’t have to feel the “burden” of living in such a horrible place.

            As far as my “singular experience in the workforce”, those comments were directed at Mona, not you. So here you are telling me to not stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong, and there you are, sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. How self-righteous of you. If you did your homework, you would know that black privilege is the rule of the day. Examples abound. But when you’re playing guitar with your buddies, it’s difficult to keep up on current events.

            And actually, it has everything to do with the issue at hand. To you, I am not allowed to comment or express my opinion on the subject of America haters, therefore you direct me to the Fox News website. Sure thing, that’s honest and open discussion. “If I disagree with you, then your point is invalid, so you should go to Fox News instead”. How enlightened.

          • snafubar

            PS, changing your screen name to “guest” won’t hide your identity.

            I already saw that you posted this comment (prior to changing your screen name) under your real name – Mike Gadomski.

  • snafubar

    Anna, PS, good luck finding a job and paying off those student loans with a “Native American Studies” degree, or whatever useless degree it is you attempting to achieve.

    On second thought, I’m sure Mom & Dad are footing the bill.

  • bruic

    I am not sure what DLWC stands for. I can assume it a collection of miscreants from the suburbs who have now decided that they know how to best run the world. I tried to look up DLWC and the most common Google response is “Dies Lonely With Cats”, according to the Urban Dictionary. Rather fitting, I’d say.

  • Thomas Martin

    I am completely fine with debate and political statements. This is NOT the day to do it. To many people removing those flags is a direct insult to the victims who died on 9/11. Columbus day or Thanksgiving? absolutely. not on a day meant to memorialize the dead

  • 99 grad

    Can someone explain to me this… She said in her statement “I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki community should in no way be implicated in today’s events. Nor can I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or 9/11.”

    She is protesting for a group that has not said this act is offensive to them. How can someone with no REAL vested interest in that land make the decision on what is the right and wrong was to treat that land?

  • Ryan Marc

    If she actually cares about people, why care about people in the past, help the living, they are the ones who need it. You want change? Go join the Peace Corps, go do something worth while help people, trust me the Abenaki do not give two shakes of their peace pipe about our flags in OUR ground. In fact, it wasn’t even our flag, it was the English flag AND the Union Jack that first colonized the Abenaki area, not Americans, as such her protest is invalid, her views are misguided, and her actions not only harm us, but harm the memory of the Abenaki indians, people who Americans had nothing to do with their demise. Most of the Abenaki were killed off during the smallpox epidemics in 1631-1639, 150 years before America was even a nation, at this point there were only 10,000 Abenaki, a smaller population than most small towns. By the time of the American Revolution only 1,000 Abenaki remained and they were fully assimilated into colonial society. So in no way were AMERICANS responsible for the demise of the Abenaki.

  • snafubar

    American flags – in the trash. I believe that’s called desecration, an arrestable offense.

    2,977 flags stolen, say a $1 each, = that’s “around” $3,000. I believe that’s called “Grand Theft”, an arrestable FELONY offense.

    I’m sure mom & pop will pick up the tab.

    • faboutlaws

      Not only that, but grabbing the bag of flags out of Ben Kinney’s hands is strong armed robbery, a more serious offense than theft.

      • student2121

        ARMED robbery? Where on earth did you get the idea that these protesters were armed?

        • snafubar

          OK, robbery then.

        • steves_59

          Let’s get this straight. They’re not protesters. They’re vandals.

        • faboutlaws

          Strong armed robbery is a term used in many states to denote the use of bodily force without a weapon to accomplish a robbery. Regular, plain robbery is the use of a threat or a quick grab without a struggle to take property from you. Punching you in the face while grabbing your purse is a typical strong armed robbery. Here there was a struggle to wrest control of the bag of flags from Kinney’s hands. It’s up to prosecutorial discretion whether to charge that crime. In my state you would likely be charged with it. I have tried a couple of those cases sometime ago when I used to represent gang bangers, but now I mostly represent bikers who are usually armed.

  • Midd Alum ’03

    This is a half-hearted, cheap and flawed excuse for a hurtful action. An intelligent young woman and Middlebury student surely is able to foresee the consequences of an action like this and find a better medium through which to voice the displeasure of her friend. She knew well what she was doing and wanted a justification for it. Sacred Native American territory? Give me a break. If that were the concern, why not destroy the campus too? Its buildings penetrate the earth. The reasoning employed here shows the intellectual capacity of a middle schooler.

    This is unbecoming of a Misdlebury student in every possible respect. I hope she is not allowed to return to campus.

  • Mona Quarless ’12

    As a proud Black American, who must deal with American imperialism and White privilege daily, the first thing I have to say is, how dare you. You state in your Op-ed the campus does not have enough land to place flags for all of the lives that were stolen due to American Imperialism, yet you chose 9/11, a day that affected every race, creed, religion, ethnicity and person under the sun to show your disdain and “colonial burden”? Really? Please forgive me if I do not understand or come off as sympathetic your plight. As a Midd alum one of the greatest things I took away from the school is the need to exhaust dialogue and voice your opinion. Not simply act on impulse. Middlebury College and the greater Middlebury Community have a complex yet symbiotic relationship where we depend on one another to survive. We are in no way a perfect school, but the last thing you should ever do is make its inhabitants (the school and community) uncomfortable in their own home. Your act was not only vile, but repulsive. As if the act of removing the flags were not grotesque enough, you placed them in black plastic bags and refused to turn them over to their rightful owners. Do you know what it means to place a flag in the trash? As much as you claim to be honoring the culture of the Abenaki people you vehemently decided to disrespect another in the process.

    I want you to take a moment and think about your socialization. No, please I will wait. You of all people clearly do not understand the loss that happened on 9/11. You did not witness bodies falling out of a tower, you did not have siblings walk through the blinding, choking, traumatizing smoke that was debris and bodies. You did not watch classmates walk through the hallways shell-shocked because they did not know where their parents were. You do not live in a city where every day you must pass a permanent graveyard that is ironically walking distance from the African Burial Ground National Monument (A plot only .35 acres dedicated to the memory of thousands of slaves.) You do not get to pick and choose who gets honored and on what day because there are a million more people in this nation who are disenfranchised and dishonored due simply to who they are.

    America is in no way shape or form a perfect nation. We can see that in our daily lives if we simply walk out our doors and look around us. But 9/11 is a day when so much hate took so many lives. When so much ignorance and arrogance caused people who do not even know each other, to hate one another. When so much was lost and so much will never be the same. As much as you state your aim was to help the Abenaki people, you hurt so many others and you did not even offer an honest apology in the words “I am sorry” anywhere in your response. Your carefully crafted response shows you stand by your actions and do not understand the atrocity you have just accomplished.

    I hope in your time at Midd you will become more cognizant of how haphazard attempts to “spark” discussion affect other people. As much as we want to deny it ,the histories of all people in America are intertwined in more ways than one. You do not have the privilege or right to take down 3,000 flags which stands for more than just imperialism, to satiate your personal desire.

    • snafubar

      A very thoughtful and well delivered comment, and true in most aspects. However, I disagree with you on one thing.

      As a proud white American, I can honestly say that between affirmative action (reverse discrimination based on skin color, not qualifications or merit) and the election of Obama in 2008, and his subsequent racial policies, that white privilege is officially dead. Black privilege officially rules. I say this as a white man who was laid off and replaced with a less qualified black man.

      No skin off my nose. I had enough experience and perseverance to start my own business, and although I’m not earning what I did working for a Fortune 500 company, I wouldn’t go back to the corporate back-stabbing world for anything.

      • remixed

        I hope you’re joking, snafubar.

        As a mixed-race woman, I can confidently say that white privilege is not dead. I don’t think you realize how fortunate you are to be a white male and how much power you have simply because you were born with a penis and pale skin.

        To put it simply, check your privilege.

        • Doc

          Remixed, it must be troubling looking through a lens of hate your entire life. Well.. If you want to be a victim.. go ahead. I for one work to ensure I don’t become a victim and stay more than a statistic.

          • remixed

            Doc, I am far from a victim am honestly offended that you assume I am burdened by some “lens of hate.” I’m not the one calling people “moonbats.”

            Honestly, I feel sorry for you. I read some of your previous comments, and you seem like a very sad and troubled man.

          • Doc

            Firstly, do me a favor and go look up what that pejorative means. It is quite apt. Secondly, your comments are full of code words that show you are a racist misandrist. You look at your own troubles in life and blame them on white men. You are right.. I am sad and troubled. The left has destroyed any chance of my country ever having a unified national identity. They have broken everyone down into victim groups. I belong to one of those minority groups the left has done some great things for, however it is at the expense of our nation’s soul. I, thankfully, am intelligent enough not to be a single issue voter and can recognize how morally corrupt both political parties are. I am troubled that a country I have very seriously have almost died for on multiple occasions will not exist when I am finally put in the ground.

          • GEAH

            You are not remixed. You are Mixed Up.

        • snafubar

          As a white man, I can confidently say that white privilege IS dead.

          Power comes with education and hard work, not from dependency on the government or the color of your skin. There are many powerless whites. There are many powerful blacks. Some got there with hard work, others had it handed to them via affirmative action.

          I am fortunate to be an American. So are you, you just don’t realize it because you have been taught to believe otherwise. The only one holding you back is YOU.

        • GEAH

          As a human being, I can confidently say that “remixed” is brain dead.

      • Mona Quarless 12′

        Due to the fact I want to keep this about 9/11 and not the issue of race. I will keep this brief. Reverse Discrimination is an easy a fix as unmixing sand or me wiping my melanin levels off my face. A drop of Black in a white house does not change the dynamic of a nation. As proud as I am to be an American there are still places in America I am not safe it.
        Also in regards to your being laid off. Do you know the man’s credentials and all he brings to the table? If not, check your resentment at the door. Blacks in a America are 10% of the population; your issues run deeper than being laid off, by a white corporation in a white nation. You should really look into that before making a scathing unsubstantiated comment from one personal negative experience.

        • snafubar

          Well Mona, I would have kept it about 9/11 except you fired the opening salvo “As a proud Black American, who must deal with American imperialism and White privilege daily”. As a proud White American, who is not a descendent of slave-owners, I am not taking that cr@p from anyone, including you.

          A drop of black in a White house doesn’t change the dynamics of a nation, but the policies of the black office holder and his Attorney General sure does.

          In case you haven’t been reading the non-mainstream news, there is a war on the White male, and those doing the attacking are black males. The “Knockout Game”. There are dozens of examples of hate crimes being perpetrated on Whites, by blacks, in recent news, many resulting in death. I can guarantee there are more black neighborhoods where I would not come out alive than there are White neighborhoods where you would not come out alive. The fact that YOU can walk down a street in a city full of Whites and not be attacked is proof. If I walked down the streets in a city full of blacks, I can almost guarantee I would.

          With regard to being laid off, it’s HARDLY unsubstantiated, since I was the one who experienced it. I DO happen to know the credentials of the man who replaced me, since I was asked to stay an extra month to train and educate him on the tasks at hand. I held no grudge and I stayed. He was dumb as a rock, and after a month understood no more than he had a month earlier. Like I said, I m glad to no longer be in the corporate world, if that corporation would hire a man less qualified than me only because his skin was a different color than mine, so they could fill a racial quota.

          Yes, blacks are actually 12% of the population, but they are treated and act as if they are 90% of the population. Blacks have embraced inter-generational governmental dependency since LBJ, and look where it has gotten them. Frederick Douglass is spinning in his grave.

          So please check your uppidy black attitude at the door and stop blaming all the problems of the black man on the White man. If you are looking for the White man to blame and to fix your problems, you’re looking in the wrong place. All you need to do is look in your own homes, families and neighborhoods.

          • jj

            Oh my god, please stop talking. You have no idea what an embarrassment your comments are. I don’t know whether to laugh or hide my face in my hands and cringe. Your immense ignorance and racism are showing, badly… nagl.

            Love,
            A white person

    • Kelly Dennis ’07

      I was one of the very few Native Americans who attended
      Middlebury College and the only one I knew of in the class of 2007. I was shocked to come across this story on Indian Country Today. I have a deep
      seated feeling of humiliation that I’m having trouble letting go of after
      reading the story, Anna’s statement, and all of your comments. As the only student who actively identified as a Native person in my class, I struggled to overcome cultural barriers and confront racist stereotypes and now I feel pain for present Native students who will no doubt suffer from the embarrassment and shame of having people use their culture to
      make such a disrespectful and irresponsible statement.

      In 2004 I founded and became President of Voices of
      Indigenous People (VIP) at Middlebury College. VIP served to represent the small indigenous population on campus, recruit more Native students and faculty, and educate the Middlebury community about indigenous peoples around the world. In fact, I founded VIP after a campus organization hosted a “Cowboys and Injuns” where something along the lines of the following message was sent out: “if dressed as a Cowboy you can roam around and drink whatever you want; but come in Injun garb and you’ll be forced to your reservation in the corner and have fire water poured down your throat.”

      With the support of friends I formed and lead a group of over fifty students distressed by this and other injustices to protest the event. We related it to past offences such as the vandalism of the coming-out closet and the “Blackface Party.” Our protest ultimately created a healthy dialogue on diversity issues throughout the campus and an agreement was made between the college and student groups to host sensitive
      themes for social gatherings. That, Anna, is how you hold a proper protest for indigenous issues.

      I tried calling the Middlebury Student Activities Office to see if VIP is still around after this incident. I never thought I’d see the day where I would be relieved to hear that the office is not aware of whether VIP is still active.

      Protesting for recognition of Native American burial rights and sacred site issues is an important, spiritual, and sensitive endeavor. I’ve helped to organize my Tribe’s own ancestral burial ground protection protests. However, never would it have occurred to me to do so in front of the Middlebury Chapel unless some Abenaki people approached me for VIP’s assistance. Even then, I would not have handled it in the way Anna and the other protestors had by defacing the September 11 memorial. Especially not as a Native American person from a New York tribe!

      I am now mortally disgusted by all of this and the consequence that the comments for this story are starting to show. Comments such as “the Abenaki people died out long ago even before colonialism.” NOT
      TRUE! An Abenaki student went to Middlebury while I was there and she was a few years my underclassman. She joined VIP and we learned from her about the Abenaki culture, history, and atrocities such as the government systematically forcing the sterilization of her people.

      I pray that the Middlebury community can find a way to resolve this matter appropriately for all impacted and not overlook or further debase
      Native American people. I honestly feel like this group of protestors tried to take cultural appropriation to a whole new level and it makes me sick.

  • sam

    Anna, do a lot of research and find out who occupied that land BEFORE the Abenaki people. Generally throughout history, groups migrate into regions, oppose the peoples already there, then one or the other ends up with control of the region. Likely the Abenaki deposed another group at some point back in time.

  • Doc

    God damned liberal moonbats. Hey guess what? Native americans came from Asia. Everyone came from somewhere else. Hell, why not grieve for the neanderthals that humanity rendered extinct in the evolutionary fight for dominance? You liberals are so full of shit that you can’t even smell it.

  • c1kabar

    Yeah, it’s sacred ground until someone wants to put a casino on it.

  • Rob Campbell

    She obviously hasn’t read up on the tribe that she says she’s standing up for. That’s not the way the Abenaki handle problems. Anyone else think she’s off kilter for thinking this one piece of land is a burial ground (for a tribe she doesn’t know much about) but she attends the school only feet away in which numerous buildings have been erected?

  • GOD

    As someone who fought for this country and your right to even do something like that Anna, I now know who you are. If I see you, you will be putting back every flag that you took out of the ground and you will not have a choice in the matter. You could of proved your point in a different manner, yes it is your own opinion and your own personal beliefs. Now this is my own person belief and my own personal opinion in which you will get to verify if we ever meet. Thank you, cheers :)

  • ginbumboom

    “I am the one who will see you in the dining halls and in the classroom.”

    One hopes that will not be the case for long, as you do not represent the college which I was so proud to graduate from 13 years ago. You are a disgrace.

  • Scott

    So, if you don’t know if your action is justified or right, but you do know that action will be painful and confusing to others, it seems like the smart play would be to put a little more thought in to what you’re about to do.

  • cargosquid

    Charge the protester with theft. Arrest and charge her.

  • Midd07

    I think some students should just put large posters all over campus with the word “visibilize” on them just in case she forgets about her ridiculous act and lack of literacy.

  • Pádraig Pearse

    Anna Shireman-Grabowski is a worthless twunt.

  • Vincent A. Recca

    To the Middlebury College community:

    Though a tad bit embarrassed to admit it, the first week of school, with all of the new faces, new classes, and Vermont-ness, always made me a bit apprehensive and long for home. As a native New Yorker and as someone who lost several people in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that longing for home was always accompanied by grief and guilt for not being in the City that I love or with my family on that day. Each year, though, I was comforted by what could only be described as the beautiful rows of flags adorning the lawn in front of Mead Chapel, as if all of the people that I had lost had come with me to foreign Vermont, if only for just one day.

    Unfortunately, a handful of so-called activists desecrated that memorial yesterday, inappropriately invoking the name of the Abenaki people in the process. People far wiser than myself are debating the merits of the argument, and I support a larger discussion of the effect of American territorial expansion on native peoples. Yesterday’s behavior violated both the spirit and the law of the College Handbook; specifically, this behavior violates the General Conduct standards, namely:”Flagrant disrespect for persons, flouting of common standards of decency, behavior unbecoming of a Middlebury student, or continued behavior that demonstrates contempt for the generally accepted values of the intellectual community is prohibited.” This is an act of intolerable emotional violence, one that has been perpetrated not just against those affected by the attacks but on each and every member of our community. When approached by passers-by, the perpetrators further revealed their cowardice and dishonesty by packing the flags up as quickly as possible and attempting to run with them.

    As we know, the Middlebury community extends beyond the geography of the Champlain Valley to include her active and dedicated alumni. I encourage alumni to join me in voicing their concerns as integral members of greater Middlebury. Given the enormity of the emotional toll on the community, I, as a dedicated alumni, call on the Community Judicial Board, after a thorough investigation, to recomend immediate expulsion for Ms. Anna Shireman-Grabowski.

    • GEAH

      Statement from Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz
      Sept. 12, 2013

      To the Middlebury College Community,

      Yesterday, on the 12th anniversary of the horrific attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, a group of Middlebury students commemorated the loss of nearly 3,000 lives by placing American flags in front of Mead Chapel as they have done a number of times in the past. Sadly, a handful of people, at least some of them from our campus community, this year chose to desecrate those flags and disrespect the memories of those who lost their lives by pulling the flags from the ground and stuffing them in garbage bags.

      We live in an academic community that fosters and encourages debate and discussion of difficult issues. It is also a community that requires of all a degree of respect and civility that was seriously undermined and compromised by this selfish act of protest.

      Like many of you, I was deeply disturbed by the insensitivity of this act. Destruction of property and interfering with the rights of others to express themselves violates the standards of our community. The College has begun a disciplinary investigation of this incident.

      There is always something to learn from differences of opinion. In this case, the disrespectful methods of the protesters overshadowed anything that might have been learned from the convictions they claimed to promote. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior.

      Ron Liebowitz

    • James Bishop ’90/MIIS ’12

      Vincent,
      I have shared my thoughts with the Alumni Office and received a polite response. The flag desecration was insulting to me not only as a member of the Class of ’90 and the MA program at MIIS, but as an Army veteran of Iraq (2003, 2004-5) and Afghanistan (2006) as well. This senseless, ignorant act by cowards has only embarassed the Middlebury community and brought negative, nation-wide attention. I’m pretty certain that neither this young lady nor her friend will getting invites from national news outlets to defend the indefensible.

  • boze

    Is the site in question known to have historical and/or archaeological significance? If it is it seems it should be protected and preserved.

  • UnclePennybags

    Shireman-Grabowski. Mhm. And which tribe does she hail from?

    The same one as Elizabeth Warren I assume.

    Since the young lady is so appalled by American colonialism and imperialism, surely she should self deport back to (Poland?)

    • snafubar

      The Polish Tribe. We reject her.

  • SCT

    I’m not super impressed with her press release. At least the DLWC fiasco from last year boiled down to a pretty clear stalemate of a question about ends vs. means. But this is an elusive, meandering defense that only embarrasses and works against Ms. Shireman-Grabowski. “I don’t pretend to know if every action I take is right or justified—this process is multi-layered and nuanced.” Really though? I’d be interested to hear more about how it’s okay to take rash action without first considering whether it’s right or justified because it’s all a “process,” if I wasn’t sure the discussion would be a waste of time. Seems to me political statements are expected, and rightfully so, to be expressions of convictions strongly held — and political ACTIONS even more so. If you’re going to do something so guaranteed to be offensive and hurtful, you’d better be certain you’re in the right AND have exhausted every single other tactic first. Comparing the value of lives lost is an ugly business that any politically and socially thoughtful person ought to avoid. I would have been less appalled by this action if the defense had been convincing but it’s really weak.

  • GEAH

    Shireman-Grabowski = World’s. Dumbest. Bint.

  • SliverGod

    So like, Anna. You know what? Your complaint is a totally valid one. Your thoughts on colonialism? Also pretty valid!
    So why didnt this community and you protest the construction of the school? Or any of the new additions and/or renovations? Or the yearly grounds keeping that occurs. They literally rip the ground apart in order to make the campus look recruitment-pamphlet fresh every year, weve all seen it!

    No you picked 9/11 because you are a vicious vicious troll living under a bridge named “m-m-muh colonialism”

    Not only have you made yourself look stupid, youve made the school look stupid, your classmates look stupid and even the very people you were trying to help look stupid. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I doubt you could even make it that far, you would be tripping all over your moral superiority.

  • GEAH

    This idiotic young lady writes for Salon. I will not longer be giving them clicks.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/07/04/its_not_easy_being_green_for_middlebury_college_partner/

  • gman213

    I was very impressed with the school’s response and stance on this incident. I predict that this girl will be sent packing and hopefully will return home to a mom and dad who will instill some decency in her since something nefarious has taken over her skull full of mush.

  • po’lazarus

    abenaki shmabenaki

    • snafubar

      heymaniganshaheymanashiginaga

  • Big Ed

    I would have kicked her in the gunt and took the flags away from her while she gasped for air. Wretched skinny little Vegan Harpy that she is.

    • snafubar

      sneaky is how they do it….

  • David Maggard

    Doesn’t attending college that is built on land stolen from the native inhabitants mean she is benefiting from that theft?!?

  • Billy Bob

    but its okay shes spending money to go to school there, where Im sure theres more than one American flag hanging outside of a building, is she going to remove those too?

  • Doc Farmer

    Why isn’t she and her cohorts under arrest, and expelled from that college?

  • PavePusher

    Miss Shirema-Grabowski and all her confederates need a swift kick in the ass, repeated as neccesary until they aquire some social skills. Sadly, public flogging has not yet been reintroduced for the common good.

  • Gay Rapist 69

    ahahahahahahaha liberals

  • BorderLine Guy

    Liberals love artistic expression…unless they disagree with it.

  • MoBetter2

    What Anna Shireman-Grabowski needs is to be ‘bitch-slapped’ so hard that her empty skull does a full 360! I left Vermont on Monday, otherwise, as a Viet Nam era veteran I would have gladly volunteered to re-educate this Commie moron!

  • Abaraxas

    At least we have names now. As the flags were not your property, and the value of 2,000 plus flags would be much greater than $1500, I suggest filing charges against these parties for felony theft. Theft and vandalism have never been considered protected political speech.

  • krisdee

    I don’t care about this person’s agenda. The flags where purchased by some group and with permission displayed on property in commemoration. These people toke what wasn’t theirs, they stole flags that where commemorating the lives lost on that day. What was done is called “desecration” and to desecrate our great country’s flag on 9/11 is bordering as an act of treason. We do have the right to protest in this country but there are guidelines and her actions broke moral, ethical and legal laws which in turn makes her actions reprehensible.

  • londondave

    We are supposed to take seriously a lying cliche-ridden hackneyed leftist cnut who uses words like “visibilize”!

    As to her so-called friend harping on about so-called race grievances that happened before she was even born. Get over it — to mine another cliche.

    No wonder China, Japan, Korea, even India are kicking America’s backside academically when they are competing with a generation of ill-educated dopes studying for bogus, utterly worthless degrees, on borrowed money.

  • Peter Cook

    The Abenaki tribe fought with King Philip against the white settlers during that war and are thus serial killing savages. They gave up any rights to any land when they lost said war. There should be a permanent memorial set on the campus to honor the settlers who were horrifyingly murdered by the people of this tribe. All this person did was further dishonor a dishonored people. The white settlers did NOT start that war.

  • Chuck

    Time out. Is “visiblize” a word? I’m having trouble getting past that.

  • snafubar

    Didn’t they have to “pierce the ground” to build Middlebury College?

    I suppose Anna Shirema-Grabowski would find it acceptable to raze to the ground the College she attends?

  • RightWired

    You’re a stroke.

  • RightWired

    I’d be happy to pay for one-way airfare to the communist country of her choice.

  • Vermont Guest

    There’re conflicting statements being made by the organizers and participants in this act of desecration.

    Anna Shireman-Grabowski, in her statement about the theft, er, confiscation said that she was acting in solidarity with a non-Abenaki, out of state visitor “who was appalled to see the burial grounds of another Indigenous nation desecrated by piercing the ground that their remains lay beneath.”

    Yet, in a published excerpt from the Indigenous Action statement, staff members of the Indian Country Today Media Network reported Amanda Lickers walked back a bit from the ardent assertion that a Native burial ground was being “desecrated.” Lickers said, “Lands where our dead may lay must not be desecrated,” Lickers said, according to a release from Indigenous Action. “In my community, we do not pierce the earth. It disturbs the spirits there, it is important for me to respect their presence.”

    “May lay?” So am I to understand that if I pierce the earth in my yard I could expect a visit from Shireman-Grabowski and/or Lickers to set me straight? Under what authority? Under what authority did they take property that belonged to others whose own action was sanctioned by Middlebury College?

    It’s hard to see how outright theft can be justified by the perpetrators when they can’t seem to get their story straight.

  • Jon Isham

    The Abenaki response (http://www.addisonindependent.com/201309911-flag-vandalism-shocks-middlebury-college):

    “Don Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, called the vandalism “disgusting,” and believes the protestors were acting to promote their own political beliefs.

    “We didn’t know anything about this and if we had we certainly wouldn’t have sanctioned it,” Stevens said.

    He said that Abenakis do not publicize the locations of their burial sites in order to protect them, and that he has no knowledge of any such sites on the Middlebury campus. Stevens said that even if the site of the memorial had been a burial site, the American flags placed in the earth would not have been a desecration.

    “Our burial sites honor our warriors and their bravery,” Stevens said. “Putting flags in the earth to honor bravery would not be disrespectful.”

    Stevens served in the U.S. Army; his father fought in Korea and his son served in Iraq as a member of the National Guard.

  • LK

    no, for everybody. but only in RESPECTFUL ways which this is clearly NOT.

  • aliswell

    Oh, please. EVERY people you see everywhere got there by killing off the previous indigenous people. Do you understand the US is responsible for giving more aid to more countries and cultures than any other nation on this earth? In fact, thanks to Americans many people worldwide now have water in their communities, food in their bellies, and a means to earn a living.

    And did you read the post below, where the chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe ~ Don Stevens ~ knows of no such burial grounds on the Middlebury campus? But some little twit of a girl does?

    Just stop with the “America bad, indigenous people good” meme and grow up already.

  • Dominick Ahrens

    “Freedom of speech” to many on the left only applies when it involves thumbing one’s nose at societal norms, encouraging the desecration of religious symbols and iconography or the display of behavior that some might find offensive.
    Defend the military, express a love of country and a belief that America is a special experiment in human behavior, proclaim your belief in an established religion or defend your lifestyle in support of the tenets of such, or disagree with anything from gay marriage to racial quotas?
    Instead of serving as an opportunity for an open exchange of ideas it’s branded as “hate speech”.
    For those of us old enough to remember the actions of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, or meeting the survivors of them, these tactics sound scarily familiar; but to those for whom those names are ancient history? I might suggest reading a little Santayana.

  • jeannebodine

    Thank you for your service, jim. You are a credit to our country, bless you & your family.

  • perlhaqr

    Dishonorable expulsion seems like the right answer.

  • Serena

    The 2 protesters who have identified themselves both seem to be in the grip of a kind of racialist cult. Their view of right and wrong is entirely dependent upon race and racial grievance. They feel themselves to be victims of events that occurred centuries before their birth, as if the harm was supernaturally transferred to them. Racial allegiance also renders them incapable of empathy for those outside the preferred group. And as an ironic twist, they are opposed by the very Native American tribe for which they claimed to have been acting. But this in no way dissuades them.

    When you strip away the political veneer, there is a case to be made that they may be mentally and emotionally unbalanced. So the question remains: why were these people invited onto campus on the anniversary of 9/11 and why does the administration believe that Middlebury students should be taking “workshops” with them?

  • bricko

    She writes for Salon….what else would we expect.

  • bet0001970

    Can someone answer a few questions for me?

    It cannot be disputed that when Anna Shireman-Grabowski (and her friends) attempted to express their right to protest, they infringed upon the protected 1st Amendment rights of others. At the same time, they committed the criminal offense of theft by stealing property belonging to the Democrat/Republican 9/11 group.

    I would like know two things:

    1. Who told Ms. Shireman-Grabowski (and her friends) that it was legally acceptable to violate the rights of other citizens? I would like a name. Did her parents raise her this way or did a college professor tell her this?

    2. Who told Ms. Shireman-Grabowski (and her friends) that it was legally acceptable to violate the law? Again, I would like a name.

    The reason I think this is important is because young people don’t get these ideas on their own. If their parents raise them to respect others, they are getting this from the universities or other students. If their parents are raising them to disrespect the rules and laws of society, then we as a society should be shaming THEM as well as the student. My point…find the source. These things don’t occur in a vacuum.

    Also, Mr. Kinney…if you don’t press charges against these people, they will only be emboldened to continue their bad actions against others.

  • troutmagic2

    It’s VT!

  • Jeff Simon

    America is not perfect, so it must be bad. America made tragic mistakes in its past do it is an evil nation. America has a lot of room for improvement and so America and all everything it symbolizes should be torn down. This is the sort of spoiled brat behavior parents are paying $42,000.00 a year to learn from some wrinkled, Wavy Gravy loving, ex-flower child who never broke a sweat at a real job in his life at most liberal American Universities in this Politically Correct Wasteland of neutered drones. Obamatons.

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  • RLO

    It’s already tarnished, trust me, I will ensure my son will never think about attending a university that teaches students that it is ok to behave in this manner. What happened to civility? She and her lemmings have none and this is barbaric behavior. She is a disgrace and brings shame upon her and her friends and quite honestly, the university that would allow such an act to occur. I’m disgusted in this generation of children and I refuse to raise my child to have such a narrow mind.

  • Sydney ’13

    As a recent alum, I want to make sure you know that most students do not support this type of action. I spent three years helping placing those flags. It was a joint effort between my group, the College Republicans, and the College Democrats. Every year I witnessed students stopping as they walked by to help us plant the flags. Middlebury’s administration has started disciplinary investigation and action against the responsible student. Attending Middlebury was the best decision I could have made. I am incredibly sad that the actions of one student and a few non-students would prevent someone from attending such a wonderful institution.

  • ginbumboom

    Please, how ludicrous to judge an entire school by the actions of one person.

    I assure you, your son will not be taught by Middlebury that this sort of thing is remotely okay. I graduated from Middlebury 13 years ago and while it is a relatively progressive institution, it is not a place where selfish displays of lunatic fringe outrage are tolerated, let alone encouraged.

  • murphmobile

    The Abenaki had nothing to do with it.