Yesterday, I wrote about Emerson College’s absurd suspension of its Turning Point USA chapter on the grounds that a sticker it distributed with an anti-China message — “China kinda sus” — is racist. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is representing the group, says Emerson’s administration is digging itself a deeper hole — this time by hiding replies to its tweets critical of the Chinese government:
Wow. Emerson College—which is investigating a student group for stickers critical of China’s government—is hiding tweet replies that mention China. *Including ones that only show Winnie the Pooh, which is censored in China because people mockingly compare him to Xi Jinping.* https://t.co/PhwjFwnOHo pic.twitter.com/q0A6dgUF2s
— Sarah McLaughlin (@sarahemclaugh) October 7, 2021
In addition to subjecting its students to an unfair disciplinary process, the college administration has, as I wrote, effectively accepted the argument made by Emerson’s Chinese Student Association — that the anti-Chinese government rhetoric represented in TPUSA’s sticker is racist.
It’s no surprise that the school’s Social Justice Center has signed onto messages condemning the students for using “xenophobic weapons,” just as it’s no surprise that that office has a decidedly radical agenda couched in the language used by professional activists. The center’s mission statement is emblematic of the framing taken up by university administrators across the country:
The Social Justice Center works with and supports individuals and communities through personal and systems advocacy, community-centered projects, and radical care. We believe in individual and community self-determination and work in support of the agency of students, faculty, and staff, especially those from marginalized groups. We engage in an ongoing practice of praxis—reflection and action—and work to deepen our own liberatory practices and to create liberatory spaces for others.
At Emerson, praxis is about calling out, punishing, and censoring those who want to condemn a foreign authoritarian government’s mass atrocities. The same might also be true at other college campuses as more China-related controversies are sure to take center stage in the coming years.