The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University’s student newspaper, penned an editorial on Tuesday praising university president Christina Paxson’s decision to form a committee reviewing the heckling of New York police commissioner Ray Kelly at a recent Brown event. Ray Kelly was unable to give his remarks due to the protest. The editors, saying that they “believe Paxson’s course of action benefits all members of this community — particularly the loudest of her critics,” called for the protection of free intellectual discourse.
But at least one former student doesn’t agree. Matthew Quest, M.A. ’04 and Ph.D. ’08, wrote an earnest letter to the editor objecting to the paper’s support of Paxson. Stating that her actions suggest “the function of the University is to be a cultural apparatus subordinate to big business, the state and empire,” Quest went on to attack the university’s president as a toady of American imperialism:
Paxson is depicted as judicious in smacking down the students who protested New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and shut down his presentation because of concerns with disproportionate police brutality and mass incarceration that people of color face. Is she an objective arbiter on racism and empire?
Paxson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations — that bipartisan body that makes strategic plans to conquer the world. Is she non-partisan on the bombing and subordination of people of color nations? What about Kelly’s training of the Iraqi police during the U.S. military occupation? Why do these associations not lead The Herald to question their ethics? Do administrators who manage killing merely hold “opinions”? The student protesters, comparatively, are not associated with premeditated mass murder.
Comparatively, in other words, Brown’s student paper turns out to be a strong defender of classical-liberal values.