Culture

The Corner

Read What Radicals Really Think About Free Speech

I want you to read this letter, written by three Claremont Pomona students following the violent attempt to shut down Heather Mac Donald’s April 6 event at Claremont McKenna College. It’s dangerously unhinged, but it’s also representative of broader radical views of intersectionality and power. For example, check out this statement regarding the relationship between free speech and truth:

Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, 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. Thus, if “our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,” how does free speech uphold that value? The notion of discourse, when it comes to discussions about experiences and identities, deters the ‘Columbusing’ of established realities and truths (coded as ‘intellectual inquiry’) that the institution promotes. Pomona cannot have its cake and eat it, too. Either you support students of marginalized identities, particularly Black students, or leave us to protect and organize for our communities without the impositions of your patronization, without your binary respectability politics, and without your monolithic perceptions of protest and organizing. In addition, non-Black individuals do not have the right to prescribe how Black people respond to anti-Blackness.

Where to even begin? Cut through the academic word salad, and you end up with a simple proposition: You cannot support “marginalized identities” and support free speech. If you choose free speech, then black students reserve the right to respond any way they see fit.

For those who think that campus radicals are merely trying to protect the university from the Klan, look at how they describe a mainstream scholar like Heather Mac Donald:

The idea that the search for this truth involves entertaining Heather Mac Donald’s hate speech is illogical. If engaged, Heather Mac Donald would not be debating on mere difference of opinion, but the right of Black people to exist. Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live. Why are you, and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?

This is overwrought nonsense. If they honestly believe that Mac Donald believes black people have no right to exist, then they’ve not read or understood a word she’s written. This isn’t thought; it’s demagoguery.

Finally, any screed against free speech wouldn’t be complete without a demand that the school punish journalists:

To conclude our statement, we invite you to respond to this email by Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 4:07pm (since we have more energy to expend on the frivolity of this institution and not Black lives). Also, we demand a revised email sent to the entire student body, faculty, and staff by Thursday, April 20, 2017, apologizing for the previous patronizing statement, enforcing that Pomona College does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples, especially Black students who straddle the intersection of marginalized identities, and explaining the steps the institution will take and the resources it will allocate to protect the aforementioned students. We also demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium entities take action against the Claremont Independent editorial staff (http://claremontindependent.com/meet-the-staff/) for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds. Provided that the Claremont Independent releases the identity of students involved with this letter and such students begin to receive threats and hate mail, 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.

Sure, this letter comes from a small group of undergrads, but these students didn’t concoct this ideology out of thin air. Instead, it’s a fair representation of the ideology of the campus mob, and it’s an ideology that’s cultivated and coddled at colleges across the country. This is the marriage of intersectionality and Marcusian intolerance, and its core assertions include the belief that “marginalized” communities get to define social justice however they see fit and should possess the power suppress the civil liberties of all those who disagree. These are the people who terrify campus administrators, and these are the people who so far have been empowered to disrupt our campuses without consequence. Read and learn what they really believe. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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