Steven Glick: Students, Not Just Controversial Speakers, Are Silenced Too
Without free speech, even a college degree does not ensure an education.
Heather Mac Donald made national news when protesters blocked her planned live talk at Claremont McKenna College, forcing her to deliver a shortened version via live stream instead. Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter and many others have recently faced similar problems after receiving invitations to speak on college campuses.
While students’ proclivity to prevent controversial speakers from sharing their message is concerning, what’s even more concerning is these students’ inclination to censor their own peers.
It’s not just high-profile speakers who are stifled through threats and intimidation: We students are silenced as well.
When I arrived on campus, I was immediately introduced to a new set of rules for social etiquette.
One of my first days at school, I referred to myself as a “freshman.” An older student overheard my conversation, and told me I should instead call myself a “first year,” as “freshman” is a gendered term and could be offensive to my classmates.
I was taught that white people shouldn’t listen to rap music because it’s cultural appropriation and could be offensive to my classmates. And so, to avoid social ostracism, the other freshmen and I dutifully changed the words we used so as not to offend: Introduce yourself with your name and gender pronouns; don’t call people “African American,” call them “Black”; use “queer” instead of “gay”; “differently abled” rather than “disabled” or “handicapped”; “Latinx,” not “Latino”; “womyn,” not “woman”; “you all,” not “you guys”; and never, ever ask someone, “Where are you from?”
As it turns out, almost anything could be offensive to my classmates: mad scientists, yachts, cupcakes, Speedos, dreamcatchers, hoop earrings, the Food Network, even America. Ultimately, I got fed up with the safe-space culture that dominates all activities on campus.
I began writing for the Claremont Independent — a student-run conservative paper at the Claremont Colleges — and became a vocal opponent of political correctness.
My classmates — as well as my former employer on campus — grew upset with my coverage of the over-the-top PC-policing and began to think up ways to silence me. I was frequently reported to the deans, and a petition even circulated asking the administration to expel me and my staff.
Part of what makes this culture so troubling is the number of double standards it engenders. “Marginalized” students perversely pursue “equality” by pulling groups perceived as privileged down. “Privileged” students are chastised for committing “microaggressions” against their marginalized peers, while marginalized students are free to commit blatant acts of racial or gender bias against those they deem privileged.
This behavior is excused because, in college, the definition of racism or sexism is “power plus prejudice.” Under this definition, only whites are capable of racism and men capable of sexism, because white men are the group in our country who are considered to hold relative power. As a result, any vengeful or discriminatory actions taken against white men are excusable because of their “privilege,” while any malicious acts (or even pointed questioning) directed at members of minority groups or women are labeled racist or sexist.
That’s true both outside and inside the classroom. The faculty at Pomona is incredibly unbalanced ideologically. Unsurprisingly, the curriculums are severely biased with dissenting views unwelcome. The number of class offerings shrinks dramatically for anyone unwilling to fully toe the progressive line. Several of my friends and I decide which classes to take based not on the course content or reading material, but instead based solely on which professors seem least likely to let political or racial biases affect classroom discussion and grading.
Two weeks ago, I tried to produce a video in which my peers would explain their opposition to Heather Mac Donald and describe the reasons they did not believe she should be allowed to speak on campus.
I stayed at the protest for nearly an hour, talking to as many students as I could. But students involved in the protest refused to answer any of my questions. Instead, they blocked my camera, pushed me and formed a wall around me to restrict my movement.
Following the Mac Donald debacle, school leaders once again stressed their commitment to “the exercise of free speech and academic freedom.” But what exactly does that commitment mean in 2017?
While national figures such as Heather Mac Donald have large audiences (online and otherwise) to ensure their opinions are heard, the same is not true for most students on campus.
What measures does a college take to ensure that all of its students have the opportunity to speak, to disagree, and to learn from opposing viewpoints, regardless of their sociodemographic characteristics?
And more importantly, since what schools are doing now clearly isn’t working, what measures are colleges willing to take going forward?
Most would agree that the exchange of competing ideas is the quintessential aspect of a liberal arts education. Unfortunately, it seems that such discussions are a relic of the past.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Censorious radicals are loud, but they are not the majority, and theirs are not the only opinions that need to be heard.
It’s time for students to insist on free speech on our campuses. Because without free speech, even a college degree does not ensure an education.
Steven Glick is a senior majoring in economics at Pomona College and the editor in chief of the Claremont Independent, a magazine covering the colleges in Claremont, Calif. He is also the nephew of Freedom Center’s Caroline Glick. Here he writes his opinion about what he calls a college “educashun.”
Tufts and Brandeis College Administrations Promote Terrorist Propaganda, Silence Opposing Views
Brandeis professor: “Zionist olive trees grow wondrously on Palestinian corpses.”
Editor’s note: Tufts University and Brandeis University are the latest two schools named to the Freedom Center’s report on the “Top Ten College Administrations Most Friendly to Terrorists and Hostile to the First Amendment.” These campuses provide financial and institutional support to terrorist-linked campus organizations such as the Hamas-funded hate-group Students for Justice in Palestine while actively suppressing speech critical of Israel’s terrorist adversaries and their allies in the United States. Over the weekend, the Freedom Center placed posters exposing the links between SJP and Hamas terrorists on both campuses. These posters pose a challenge to the Tufts and Brandeis administrations to defend speech that exposes the truth about SJP and its ties to terrorism, rather than ordering it silenced as they have in the past.
Brandeis University: Campus Administration
Brandeis University, located in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, is notable for being one of America’s few elite universities to be founded by Jews and is named for Louis B. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the Supreme Court. In recent years, Brandeis has been conspicuous for a more disturbing reason—as an academic center that is uniquely welcoming to pro-terrorist speech and ideology directed against Israel while showing extreme hostility towards those who oppose Israel’s terrorist adversaries.
Members of Brandeis’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine have hosted numerous events featuring speakers that defend anti-Israel terrorism and the genocidal Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Among these are radical professor Noam Chomsky who gave a speech describing Israel’s actions towards Palestine as “vicious, brutal and criminal” and claimed that Israel “is alone in denying” its “illegal occupation of territories.”
In April 2015, the Brandeis administration selected former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering to be honored as the university’s commencement speaker. Known for his extreme anti-Israel views, Pickering has written that Israel has conducted a “half-century-long occupation” of Palestine that is tantamount to “the permanent subjugation and disenfranchisement of a people to which Israel refuses to grant citizenship in the Jewish state.”
In 2014, a Jewish student at Brandeis, Daniel Mael, exposed a secret faculty listserve where more than 90 left-wing Brandeis faculty exchanged radical views. Some of the listserve’s participants promoted Hamas propaganda while espousing anti-Semitic comments and expressing hatred of Israel. Professor Donald Hindley, for instance, referred to the Jewish state as “The Vile, Terrorist Israeli Government,” in a post about the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists.
Hindley also sarcastically wrote: “Zionist olive trees grow wondrously on Palestinian corpses…” and compared an event challenging the anti-Semitic BDS movement to “Germany in the later 1930s with everyone at least a Nazi sympathizer.”
Brandeis sociology professor Gordon Fellman, meanwhile, wrote on the listserve seeking signatures for an open letter to “end the illegal occupation in Palestine.” According to the letter, “the government of Israel, having provoked the firing of rockets by its rampage through the West Bank, is now using that response as the pretext for an aerial assault on Gaza which has already cost scores of lives.”
When Brandeis University president Fredrick Lawrence condemned these statements as “abhorrent”( but took no official action against the professors who made them), some faculty who participated in the listserve, along with the Brandeis English Department, condemned his comments and sought a faculty forum on freedom of speech on campus.
While welcoming anti-Israel and pro-Hamas speech on campus, Brandeis has also exhibited hostility towards those who are critical of Islamic terrorism. In April 2014, under pressure from students and faculty, the Brandeis administration acted to withdraw an honorary degree that had been offered to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born women’s rights activist and critic of radical Islam who has condemned the mistreatment of women in Muslim countries, and especially the practice of female genital mutilation. Eighty-seven Brandeis faculty members signed a petition citing Ali’s “extreme Islamophobic beliefs” as a reason why the honorary degree should be rescinded. Showcasing the university’s blatant hypocrisy, Brandeis had previously awarded an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner, who has a long history of anti-Semitic statements, among them the claim that “The biggest supporters of Israel are the most repulsive members of the Jewish community.”
Brandeis also failed to take action when SJP members disrupted a university panel featuring six members of the Israeli Knesset. The SJP activists repeatedly yelled the epithet “war criminals” at the panel participants and attempted to distribute fake warrants calling for their arrest.
For its history of repeatedly welcoming anti-Israel and pro-terror speakers and protests on campus while allowing those who would present opposing views to be silenced, the Brandeis administration makes our list of Administrations Most Friendly to Terrorists and Hostile to the First Amendment.
Tufts University: James M. Glaser, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, and Jianmin Qu, Dean of the School of Engineering
The campus of Tufts University has repeatedly rolled out the red carpet for supporters of the BDS movement against Israel. In 2014, it hosted the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) National Conference, a secretive event which to which media access was strictly controlled and monitored but according to the conference agenda, instructed attendees on how and when to take “direct action” against supporters of Israel.
Tufts SJP has repeatedly condoned anti-Israel terrorism in its published works and statements and holds an annual “Israeli Apartheid” hate week during which the BDS movement against Israel is promoted. It has also violated campus regulations by distributing mock “eviction notices” to Jewish students in the dorms, which it falsely claims are similar to notices “routinely given to Palestinian families living under oppressive Israeli occupation.” Tufts SJP also attacked and delegitimized the campus pro-Israel group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) by labeling it “literally a hate group.”
No action was taken against SJP, yet when the David Horowitz Freedom Center attempted to hang posters describing SJP’s links to Hamas and its genocidal agenda, three Tufts administrators— Dean of Arts and Sciences James Glaser, Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon—emailed a statement to the entire Tufts student body, condemning the posters and claiming that they violated the University’s community standards.
“The university will be sending a statement to the poster’s sponsors in order to make clear that such materials are not welcome on our campus,” the email read.
Two of these administrators—Glaser and Qu—followed up this missive with a letter sent directly to the Freedom Center. It read:
We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the posters placed on the Tufts University campus on October 19, 2016… The posters in question violate our community standards and are not welcome on our campus. We ask that you cease any further actions that violate our community standards and, in the future, that your organization comply with applicable university policies in any interactions with members of the Tufts community or our campus facilities.
After noting SJP’s financial ties to Hamas and the rampant anti-Semitism behind its call for BDS, Freedom Center founder David Horowitz quoted from Tufts’ community standards—which explicitly state “Freedom of expression and inquiry are fundamental to the academic enterprise” to point out that nothing in the Freedom Center’s posters violate those standards.
For its stunning hypocrisy in tearing down posters critical of SJP and Hamas, while allowing SJP to disregard campus regulations, attack Jewish students and violate the University’s rules of civility, Tufts’ administrators deserve to be named among those who are “most friendly to terrorists and hostile to the First Amendment.”