New York University College Republicans canceled on speaker James Merse, a former establishment liberal LGBT member gone conservative, citing safety concerns and administrative pressure.
Opinion writer James Merse offered to speak pro bono for the NYU College Republicans, and they accepted, setting a date, time, and location with Merse. However, James received a message Monday from the group explaining that they could no longer accommodate his speech.
“Hey James, unfortunately as we have a lot of press on our ass right now, along with the administration (due to recent white nationalist events held on campus) and upon review of one of your group memberships (ACT for America) we thought it would be safer to not go through with this speaker event,” read the email.
ACT for America describes itself as national security grassroots advocacy organization and seeks to showcase the “tolerant and patriotic nature of our nation through our diversity, as well as by fostering a healthy dialogue about the most critical threats facing our nation from the perspective of a variety of voices,” according to its policy statement.
“As ACT For America is a designated extremist group listed by the SPLC, and as they have worked with groups such as white nationalist Identity Evropa and the neo-Nazi Vanguard America, we felt it was not in the best intentions to host a speaker that would conflate our club’s stances with that of the aforementioned groups,” an NYU College Republican representative told the DCNF on Tuesday, explaining their issue with Merse’s ACT membership.
“Standing against Islamist terror does not make someone a white nationalist or neo-Nazi … I’m pro-Israel and anti-Sharia,” Merse told the DCNF in an email, defending his involvement with the organization.
The SPLC’s list is a “tool of propaganda being used by political advocates to suppress speech” an ACT for America spokesman also told the DCNF in an email, defending the organization. “ACT for America is not a hate group, and welcomes all, discriminates against none, and requires that members act at all times peacefully and with honor.”
“You probably heard about Gavin McInnes at NYU, and that was a safety hazard to a lot of students and we’re trying to avoid that this year,” the email to Merse went on. “Thank you so much for offering your time, and I apologize for leading you on,” the email concluded.
The conservative actor and Vice Media co-founder McInnes attempted to speak at NYU in February and was pepper sprayed by Antifa members, 11 of which were later arrested. While McInnes is far from a white nationalist — his own twitter handle even condemns Neo-Nazis and the alt-right — “leftist labels are meant to silence conservatives, and it’s very clear the NYU College Republicans are taking the bait,” Merse wrote.
Merse added that the College Republicans didn’t explore other options they might deem safe, like a Facebook LIVE event, noting that he would have gladly worked with them to figure out an alternative. “How quickly they cowered to the pressure of the mainstream media and the left’s potential criticisms,” Merse wrote. “I am very disappointed in the NYU College Republicans … they are uninterested in preserving free thought on college campuses.”
The college has hosted far more inflammatory and well-known speakers than Merse. Notably, co-chair of the Women’s March and Sharia law advocate Linda Sarsour spoke at NYU in 2016 without issue. She also recently gave the commencement for CUNY’s Public School of Health, posing for a picture with Salah Sarsour, a member of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and former Hamas operative while there. Sarsour also has close ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which the U.S. government listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme funding Hamas. (Related: Taxpayer-Funded College Hosts Sharia-Loving Commencement Speaker With Ties To Terror Group).
“I hope the NYU College Republicans can get on board with the America First agenda, because letting leftists bully them and silence them on campus isn’t acceptable anymore,” Merse said. “It’s sorely disappointing to see a group that should be taking a stand to protect those rights cave in so easily — it’s a shame,” he concluded.
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