"Oh, can't you see/This award shames our degrees/Brought a criminal to town/So we're marchin' all around."
This was one chant repeated by a group of students, professors, Occupy Denver leftovers and other activists Monday afternoon outside the Hyatt Regency. They were expressing dismay over the University of Denver's decision to present former president George W. Bush with a Global Service Award.
The award -- given to Bush at a private fundraising dinner by DU's Josef Korbel School of International Studies -- was first announced in July and was originally called the "Improving the Human Condition" award. But this honor was opposed by the majority of Korbel faculty members, who signed a letter asking that DU reconsider. Afterward, the name of the award was changed, but not the recipient.
Neither press nor protesters were allowed to attend yesterday's event. But afterward, DU released the following photo of the former president chatting with Korbel Dean Christopher Hill, who'd served as Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and U.S. Ambassador to Poland....
...and noted that the event raised in excess of $670,000 earmarked for scholarships, plus faculty programs and research.
Prior to the gathering, however, a crowd gathered outside the Hyatt for a protest organized by the Colorado Student Power Alliance, with members using a megaphone to voice their complaints from behind a large anti-Bush banner.
The first to speak was law student Sara Fitouri. "We are here today because we don't believe George W. Bush committed a global service. We believe he has committed war crimes," she said.
This notion appeared to have been uniformly supported by those in attendance., some of whom expanded on Fitouri's statement to include a multitude of other alleged Bush crimes against humanity.
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One protestor didn't limit his ire to Bush, extending it to Barack Obama as well. "Really, all U.S. presidents are guilty of war crimes," he said. "The U.S. is built on slavery and genocide and exploitation and imperialism."
Terry Burnsed, affiliate professor of theater at Metropolitan State University, spoke with focus and determination when given his turn at the megaphone. "We must denounce imperialism and war crimes by the developed world against the deliberately underdeveloped world wherever they happen, whenever they happen," he said.
Burnsed added his hopes for what the demonstration might accomplish: "to alarm some of the public to the fact that war criminals are being lauded by our educational institutions, even as the same processes unleashed by those war criminals domestically are demolishing education, both K-12 and higher."
More from our Politics archive: "George W. Bush 'Global Service' award protest about DU values, organizer says."