Freedom of speech is one of the most beloved and treasured values in the United States; it’s what makes our democracy work so well. The ability to have open debates on any subject and the right to say whatever one chooses is essential in any free democratic society; and the university has a responsibility to ensure that every side has the right to say their piece. The question is: When free speech and the First Amendment are a shield for hate speech, then should it be protected or permitted on campus? The answer is unequivocally no.
On Thursday, Feb 26, the Muslim Student Union brought Amir Abdemalik Ali to speak about ‘America under Siege: The Zionist Hidden Agenda.’ The title is infuriating because it claims that ‘Zionists,’ who are the ‘bad’ Jews (though he never defined what it meant to be a ‘bad’ Jew), are running the show in America.
The idea that Jews, good or bad, who are less then one percent of the population in America, are really running the show in any country is classic anti-Semitism that’s been around for centuries.
The title was bad enough, but what the former Nation of Islam member said was worse. He implied that Zionism is a mixture of ‘chosen people-ness and white supremacy,’ that the Iraqi war is in the process of ‘Israelization,’ that the Zionists had the ‘Congress, the media and the FBI in their back pocket,’ that the downfall of former Democratic front-runner Howard Dean was due to the Zionists and that the Mossad (Israel’s CIA) would’ve assassinated Al Gore if he was elected just to bring Joe Lieberman (his Jewish vice-president) to power. On top of which, this man openly praises Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups considered to be terrorist organizations by the United States, and approves of violence as the way to achieve a goal.
The strange thing is that this isn’t the first time he’s spewed anti-Semitism at a college forum. On the campuses of UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz two years ago, Amir said, ‘The wars against Iraq [Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom] were manufactured by the Jews in America to avert attention from the two Intifadahs.’ He also came out publicly stating that, ‘the Israelis knew about and were ‘in-control’ of 9-11′ and that it ‘was staged to give an excuse to wage war against Muslims around the world.’
This is not the viable, open debate that universities are supposed to allow; this is hate speech. This is anti-Semitism as plainly as I’ve ever seen it at UCI and my only question to the administration is, ‘When what he has said was going to be available for anyone to see, why was he permitted on this campus?’ I know someone (or maybe a lot of you) reading this article, are screaming at me ‘Freedom of Speech!’ and ‘First Amendment!’
The law protects their right to say whatever they want but what benefit does hate speech bring to an open discussion? Hate speech often leads to violence, and is that what we as Anteaters want on this campus?
When the evangelical Christians came to campus with their huge signs, claiming that everyone is going to hell who doesn’t believe what they believe, when they insulted ‘yellow’ and ‘slant-eyed’ Chinese and proclaimed homosexuality an abomination, was there any doubt that it was hate speech? No, and Anteaters from all races, beliefs and orientations gave them a verbal thrashing. So why is it so hard to make the connection that when someone walks onto the campus and claims that Jews run America and perpetuated Sept. 11, that it isn’t hate speech?
I’m not saying that anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy or action is anti-Semitic; if you want to criticize the Barrier, what’s going on in the territories, et cetera, you have a right to. But there is a VERY large difference between claiming that Israeli action is wrong and that the Israelis are in control of the American government. Criticism is one thing. Demonization and delegitimization are completely different and do not serve a purpose in an open debate.
I want the administration of UCI to give me some kind of an answer to this: Since when is anti-Semitism politically correct or allowed under the guise of free speech? Would the university say, ‘That’s freedom of speech and open debate, you can’t do anything about it,’ if someone were to walk onto the campus and rail against the ‘Asian conspiracy to hold down white Americans in universities,’ or that African Americans are to blame for the state of the economy? I’m not saying that to criticize Israelis means you’re a Neo-Nazi, but when you claim that Jews run America, then you’re not making a logical argument. You are spewing hate. And that should not be allowed at UCI or any other campus
Filed Under: Opinion