Tuesday, April 18

Students demand the right to ban speakers--claim free speech is "a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions"

If you think radical black students can be reasoned with, you may want to consider an open letter--signed by 30 black students at Pomona College--to the president of that college.  The letter attacked the president for affirming Pomona’s commitment to free speech, and demand that all five colleges in the group “take legal action” against conservative journalists on the college newspaper.

The students wrote in response to an email from the president supporting “the exercise of free speech and academic freedom” after student protests that shut down a scheduled appearance by an invited speaker, scholar and critic of Black Lives Matter.
“Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses,” the president's email said. “What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded on the discovery of truth."

The letter-writing students sharply disagreed.  “Free speech...has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry,” they wrote.

Astonishingly, the students' letter contended that free speech didn't help "the discovery of truth.”  In fact the students claimed truth was not only a “myth” but also a white supremacist concept.

“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity.... This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”

Referring to the protests that prevented Mac Donald's invited speech, the open letter claimed that allowing Mac Donald to speak would have amounted to a debate not “on mere difference of opinion, but [on] the right of Black people to exist.”

The open letter concludes by demanding that Oxtoby apologize for his April 7 email and instead announce that the college “does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples.”

The letter also demanded that the Claremont Colleges “take action” against the staff of the Claremont Independent for their “continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds.”  They demanded “disciplinary action” against conservative journalists from the Claremont Colleges.

“We demand that this institution and its constituents take legal action against members of the Claremont Independent involved with the editing and publication process, as well as disciplinary action, such as expulsion on the grounds of endangering the wellbeing of others.”

So...let's review:  These people believe they have the right to a) bar anyone they don't like from speaking in public; b) to demand an apology from the university president for writing an email supporting free speech and its use in "discovering truth;" c) to demand the expulsion of students who release the names of the students who made the demands.

Do these demands sound reasonable?  Do the people who made them sound in any way rational or reasonable? 

Do you think they can be reasoned with?

These are the folks who get absolutely crazy with rage if someone says "All lives matter."  Seriously.

At this point it seems to me that unless we're willing to give up the right of free speech, these demands--and the crazed anger behind them--can only be settled by civil war.

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