Professor Calls for Dismantling US: ‘Greatest Predator Empire’

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A professor at the University of Minnesota (UMN) has sparked backlash online over her comments at a recent teach-in regarding the Israel-Hamas war, during which she said that the “goal” is to “dismantle the settler project that is the United States.”

The professor, Dr. Melanie Yazzie, was speaking at a panel event hosted by The Red Nation, a Native American advocacy group “dedicated to the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism,” according to the group’s website. Yazzie is a professor of American Indian Studies at UMN and co-founder of The Red Nation.

Several American universities have been caught in the middle of the growing tensions surrounding Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks on October 7. Instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia have increased in recent months across the U.S., and pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups have repeatedly clashed on college campuses, leading to the federal government’s crackdown on how higher institutions are handling instances of discrimination.

The University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis is shown on April 9, 2019. A professor at UMN has sparked backlash online for her pro-Palestinian comments at a recent teach-in hosted by The Red Nation, a Native American advocacy group.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Red Nation event, titled “From Minnesota to Palestine,” took place on December 3, featuring several indigenous American leaders and pro-Palestinian voices who spoke on Native Americans relating to Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas conflict. During panel discussions, Yazzie, a member of the Navajo Nation, spoke about the land-back movement, which advocates for the return of land to the indigenous tribes.

“Land-back is going to happen,” Yazzie said in a clip that was shared to X, formerly Twitter, by conservative media outlet Alpha News. “That’s going to happen, the indigenous perspective in Turtle Island, and how we also understand was is happening in Palestine.”

Turtle Island is a name commonly used by indigenous groups to describe North America.

“And what we really want you to take away tonight … We’re all indigenous people who come from nations that are under occupation by the United States government,” Yazzie continued. “And of course, the U.S. bank rules the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. They’re one in the same, really.”

“And so, it’s our responsibility as people who are within the United States to go as hard as possible to decolonization this place,” she added. “Because that will reverberate all across the world. Because the U.S. is the greatest predator empire that has ever existed. So we want U.S. out of everywhere … and the goal is to dismantle the settler project that is the United States.”

Conservative accounts on X, such as Libs of TikTok, bashed Yazzie’s statements, saying that the calls for decolonization of the U.S. “really mean “g*noc*de against the oppressors.”

Nonprofit group Mythinformed also posted part of The Red Nation’s event on its X account, claiming that Yazzie’s statements show that “College is no longer worth the investment.”

“Woke activist and professor Melanie Yazzie cites ‘Heteropatriarchy’ to justify harassment of people that do not agree with her,” Mythinformed said in another post regarding the event. “This is the college experience at the University of Minnesota.”

Newsweek reached out to UMN for comment, but was told via automatic email that the press relations team is out of office until Wednesday. An email was also sent to Yazzie.

A pro-Palestinian group at the City University of New York, CUNY4Palestine, responded to the Libs of TikTok’s criticism of Yazzie’s statement, calling them “power words.”

“@libsoftiktok stop projecting your colonial genocidal tendencies onto others!” CUNY4Palestine added.

During The Red Nation’s event, Yazzie told audience members that she and other participants on the panel are a reminder to “the world that even after 500 years … this is something that has not gone away, and in fact it will never go away, no matter how much you suffer.”

“And I think that is what we have to offer our Palestinian relatives, in addition to solidarity and the things that we might do, having the moral authority as the original people of these lands, to push back against the violence settler project that is the United States,” Yazzie said.

“I seek to dismantle the United States, I hope you seek to dismantle the United States,” she added.