Is The University Of Chicago A Safe Space?
There are many ways to suppress free speech, the right to which is the foundation of all our other rights, and our democracy as well. Many leftists would like to outright suppress the speech of those with whom they disagree. But given the fact that most Americans still believe that the First Amendment is important, they are forced to resort to other measures. One of these is to obstruct speakers who challenge them by disrupting their events and shouting them down. An even more effective and more common tactic is to slander those whom they disagree with and call them “extremists” and “racists” and the whole bag of “deplorables” that Hillary Clinton so imprudently identified.
Across the country campus activists are seeking to make universities “safe spaces” for facts and ideas that make them uncomfortable and which they can’t refute. The University of Chicago recently took a small but brave step to oppose the regressive environment of the university culture by announcing it did not support “trigger warnings” or “safe spaces” – both of which are antithetic to a university education and to a democratic society in general.
Unfortunately, the U of C’s ham-fisted response to the poster campaign conducted by my organization represents a giant step backwards. It is an indefensible attempt to make the university a safe space for supporters of terrorists in the Middle East and their hateful propaganda. To justify destroying our posters, the university administration said, “While the University of Chicago encourages the free exchange of diverse ideas and perspectives concerning a wide range of issues, these flyers are defamatory and inconsistent with our values and policies.” This is hypocrisy at its worst. The student government supported by the U of C recently passed a resolution to boycott the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only inclusive and tolerant state there. The BDS resolution was designed to isolate, delegitimize and strangle the Jewish state.
Even liberals like Hillary Clinton and Larry Summers have denounced the BDS resolutions as anti-Semitic – Jew hatred. Evidently, the university is okay with that defamatory campaign. It even provides university facilities and funds to the campus hate groups that sponsored the resolution. Yet it condemns and destroys our posters whose sole purpose is to hold the individuals who did this accountable. What can a reasonable person conclude but that Jew-hatred is consistent with the U of C’s values and policies while opposing it is not?
Our posters were not defamatory but factual. No one is denying that the activists listed supported the BDS campaign or that they support Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP is an organization dedicated to advancing the propaganda and cause of Hamas, a terrorist organization overtly dedicated not only to the destruction of the Jewish state but to the extermination of its Jews. The attacks on the posters for pointing this out are simply a defense of reprehensible efforts to spread Hamas lies.
Students for Justice in Palestine is anything but an organization for justice in Palestine. It has nothing negative to say about the Hamas government of Gabza, which oppresses women and gays, and uses AID funds for the poor to build terrorist tunnels to murder Jews. Instead, SJP devotes its energies to spreading the genocidal lie that Israel occupies – or has “stolen” – Arab land. This is a central claim of Hamas, and SJP uses phony Hamas maps to “prove” it. In fact, Israel was created in the same way Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were – on land that belonged to the Turks (who are not Arabs) for 400 years previously. Native Americans have a greater claim on the United States than Arabs do on the land around the Jordan River, including all of Israel. This information is available on Wikipedia and a thousand Internet sites. But apparently not to students or administrators at the University of Chicago.
As it happens, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the BDS movement also receive funding from Hamas through an organization called American Muslims for Palestine. This organization is run by Hamas agents, who were identified as such by prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Virginia in 2005. This information is documented on our website and in our pamphlet Students for Justice in Palestine: A Campus Front for Hamas Terrorists.
The response to our efforts to bring this information to the U of C campus, in other words to offer a different – politically incorrect – view, has been disgraceful. The political left is feeble when it comes to facts and ideas but quite effective at intimidation, which is the only way I can explain the negative chorus that has greeted our efforts. Nobody wants to offend the name- callers.
The ramifications of having a closed campus goes far beyond the issue at hand. As a result of the purge of conservatives from college faculties over a 40-year period, universities have come to resemble one-party states. Consequently, students who pay $50,000 or more a year for a liberal education are getting fleeced. You can’t get a good education if they’re only letting you hear one side of the story.
David Horowitz is the founder and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the author of Islamo-fascism and the War Against the Jews, Vol. 4, in the series The Black Book of the American Left.