Culture

Harvard Protesters: Objective Journalism Is ‘Endangering Undocumented Students’

On the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
This strategy is disingenuous. It’s juvenile, it’s manipulative, and must be called out as such.

Approximately 50 Harvard University students protested outside of the building of the school’s official newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, on Friday — demanding that it stop practicing objective journalism.

In case you haven’t been following the story, the paper has been embattled in controversy since mid-September — all because it asked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representatives for comment on a story about an “Abolish ICE” protest. (That is, demonstrated basic journalism skills.) At the time, hundreds of infuriated students signed a petition demanding that the newspaper stop talking to ICE completely.

Surprisingly? It seems that the Crimson was refusing to back down: Two of its editors penned a piece defending the newspaper’s decision.

At the time, I lauded these editors for standing up for their newspaper’s work. After all, even though a journalistic publication announcing that it stands for ethical, objective journalism might not seem like any kind of bold, brave feat, going up against the social-justice crowd can be hard.

Why? Because often, they don’t fight fair. Often, they don’t use logic or facts to make their arguments. Instead, they’ll spew out buzzwords (like “racist” and “sexist”) to capitalize on their opponents’ fears of being “canceled,” and throw in a few words like “dangerous” or “unsafe” to make it sound like people’s very lives depend on you agreeing with them.

This is, in fact, the exact strategy that many of the protesting students — some of them, unfortunately, current or former editors of the Crimson themselves — employed on Friday. According to a Medium post about the protest, written by the Crimson design editor Danu Mudannayake, some of the signs at the protest included ones saying: “Undocumented Lives > Objective Journalism” and “Stop Endangering Undocumented Students.” This is mischaracterizing the issue at best, and outright lying at worst.

Put more simply? It’s bulls***.

See, as a libertarian, I am actually far more liberal on the issue of immigration than many people might expect. For example, in terms of this specific situation, I absolutely do feel for the plight of undocumented students — people who were brought here as children, who fear being sent away from the only home that many of them have ever really known. The thing is, though, I also understand that a reporter making a call to ICE to ask for comment on a story about a protest endangers absolutely no one’s physical safety. Honestly, saying that it does makes no sense. I mean this sincerely: If any of these protesters, or anyone else, can point me to even a single person who was literally killed because of this phone call, then I will apologize and retract.

It was a ridiculous claim for these protesters to make, but unfortunately, it’s also one quite typical of the far Left — particularly on college campuses. In fact, just last week, I wrote about how a group of Stanford University students made the ridiculous claim that Ben Shapiro speaking on campus would put some students “at risk.” What they really meant, of course, was that some would be “uncomfortable” — but levying the charge that someone’s very safety is at stake certainly sounds like a better argument for silencing someone or canceling something than that.

I said it then, and I’ll say it again now: This strategy is disingenuous. It’s juvenile, it’s manipulative, and must be called out as such. After all, we cannot ever hope to have the kind of impactful discussions we need to have about important issues if one side is just allowed to be intellectually dishonest.

Straight-news pieces are supposed to be just that: straight news. They are not supposed to be biased, and a longtime practice for ensuring this is to ask all subjects of a story for their comment. What these protesting students want, though, is for all news to essentially become opinion journalism, biased in favor of the social-justice Left. This would obviously be a huge loss and make it almost impossible to ever get an objective view of anything. We cannot allow Leftist bullies to completely control the media — and that starts with refusing to be stupid enough to believe them when they say there are lives at stake when there clearly are not, and not being afraid to say so.

I was proud to see at least two editors at the Crimson stand up for objectivity and reality when this all started last month. I’m just hoping that they don’t give in out of fear of the mob.

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