Letter to the Editor: Regarding ‘Islamists Rising’ event

A letter to Chancellor Katehi:

We, as student organizations under the UC Davis Division of Student Affairs and representative of the diverse student body, condemn the event “Islamists Rising in the Middle East: Where Next for America?” where Daniel Pipes, Elan Journo and Larry Greenfield are invited to speak. The event will take place at UC Davis on April 11 at 7 p.m. and is hosted by the UC Davis Ayn Rand Society. Pipes, Journo and Greenfield have past histories of speech that demonstrate racism and Islamophobia that clearly transgress the principles that the University of California and UC Davis are meant to embody. Some of these statements include:

— “Muslims today increasingly carry the banner of anti-semitism and constitute a physical threat to Jews.” (Pipes 1997)
— Pipes justifying Japanese internment and calling for government authorities today to take “common sense steps” towards Muslims in America “by registering their whereabouts, profiling them, monitoring their mosques, or infiltrating their organizations,” in an article titled “Japanese Internment: Why It Was a Good Idea — And the Lessons It Offers Today.” (HNN 2005)
— Journo claiming that “the objective superiority of Western culture is apparent” to dismiss the presence of multiculturalism in curricula, which he describes as a “concerted effort to portray the most backward, impoverished and murderous cultures as advanced, prosperous and life-enhancing.” (Journo 2004)
— “Obama has been in denial about … the brutality of Sharia governance, the Islamic culture of oppression of women through honor killings and female genital mutilation, and the continuing Muslim assaults on Christians throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.” (Greenfield 2013)
The principles of the University that are being undermined with such speech:
— These statements/speakers threaten the maintenance of “a climate of justice marked by respect for each other” that the University strives for. (Principles of Community)
— These statements/speakers sever the University’s ability to “foster mutual understanding” among the diverse groups within the student body as they allow racist ideologies to be spread and legitimized through UC Davis. (Principles of Community)
— These statements/speakers do not make UC Davis a campus that is welcoming to any race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and have direct implications on the safety of students on campus.

We acknowledge that UC Davis regards free speech as a principle of community. However, we will not support speech that is racist and has no purpose but to further ignorance throughout communities. We do not support speech that will alienate communities and legitimize stereotyping. We do not support speech that builds the very prejudice and discrimination that the University should be working against in order to foster a campus that is rich in understanding and intellectual growth.

Thus, as the University acknowledges “historical and deep-rooted understandings and biases” in our current society, we expect, by extension, it will acknowledge that the ideologies being furthered by the speakers serve to perpetuate the irrational fear and “othering” of Islam and Muslims (Islamophobia) which have material implications on the safety and sense of belonging of our peers.

We expect the University will follow its own protocols and sanctions, which include the confrontation and rejection of such hate speech that is “based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs.” (Principles of Community)

The University’s neutral stance against such speech has allowed it to tear at the fabric of our community and is detrimental to the very principles that UC Davis strives to accomplish. We expect the University to take a stance against such hate speech.

The undersigned include 24 signatures from student organizations, faculty and staff. If you would like a list of these signatures, please contact Mariam Aejaz at maejaz@ucdavis.edu, Eddie Truong at edtruong@ucdavis.edu or Kriti Garg at kgarg@ucdavis.edu.

11 Comments

  • challengerappears
    May 3, 2013

    “you choose not to acknowledge the underlying issue here–intolerance, in ANY form directed at ANY group (regardless of whether its your own or a group that you don’t personally support) is unacceptable and must be spoken out against.”

    It’s funny you should say that. My last encounter with the MSA at ucd was marked by a bunch of islamist and libtard activists calling for the death of zionists and the destruction of israel. The attitude was more than simply iridentist–people there were overtly hateful. Whether or not the MSA has terrorist connections (and why shouldn’t it if you would accept that pro israel organizations in the US are funded by israeli propoganda organizations?), it has consistently failed to uphold this lofty value you claim to pedastalize. I have no respect for MSA or for SJP because both organizations are as racist as they accuse of others of being, and they do so while claiming the moral highground as oppressed people. There is nothing more disgusting than coopting the victimhood of real people and using it to meet your own bigotted and hypocritical agenda. I say that there is no place in academia for the MSA and those like them (be they jewish or christian or atheist).

  • AM
    April 11, 2013

    I can’t speak for the rest of the claims that you have made about speakers, because in my time, I have only encountered speakers that have spoke intelligently and respectfully about the conflicts arising between the Muslim and Jewish communities, but I can say that tolerance always comes as a TWO WAY STREET for ANYTHING. Your comment singling it out as a one way street when it comes to Islam is not only disrespectful, but also indirectly shows others why combating such ignorance is necessary. Our community stands for tolerance as a two way street–if any racist remarks were made against my Jewish friends or relatives, I would stand up against it regardless of my own personal views–because I know it’s the right thing to do. If you offer tolerance to others, they’ll offer it back to you.

    • AM
      April 11, 2013

      This was directed as an additional point to the comment below.

    • tocof
      April 12, 2013

      You should search Utube for speeches by Amir Abdel (Abdul) Malik Ali…watch several of his MSA presentations…then tell me how you characterize his remarks.

      As for “offering tolerance to others, they’ll offer it back to you” demonstrates extreme naivete about the reality of human nature and dealing with bullies. Study history, and you will find that cultures that should the most tolerance to other cultures were the first to disappear. Neville Chamerlain attempted to embody tolerance in his political dealings with Germany prior to WWII and the world learned a valuable lesson.

  • tocof
    April 11, 2013

    And yet MSA’s all up and down California sponsor speakers the likes of Amir Abdel Malik Ali, who supports Hamas and Hezbollah and calls for the destruction of Israel, Siraj Wahhaj who has called for Islamic sharia law in America and for Islamic domination of the West, and various representatives from CAIR, who is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial…the largest terrorism financing trial in America. Even the MSA itself has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Tolerance is a one way street when it comes to Islam.

    • AM
      April 11, 2013

      There are a number of flaws in your comment that need to be addressed–you have made baseless claims regarding the Muslim Student Association’s ties to terrorist organizations as well as promoting intolerance by stating that “tolerance is a one way street when it comes to Islam.” By stating what you have said, you are embodying terrorism by jeopardizing the social security and acceptance of not only MSA’s but any Middle Eastern/South Asian group in general, further proving why measures to condemn Islamophobic remarks must be advocated for and pursued because there are people ignorant enough to make such baseless remarks like yourself or the speakers invited to this event. As a UC Berkeley MSA member, I found your comment and the comments of these speakers to be extremely offensive. The only “brotherhood” that we have is the strong ties of kinship between our members. That’s it. Check yourself before making such bigoted, baseless claims that are honestly very easy to make because you choose not to acknowledge the underlying issue here–intolerance, in ANY form directed at ANY group (regardless of whether its your own or a group that you don’t personally support) is unacceptable and must be spoken out against. Stop bringing your personal views/judgments about members of the Muslim community into this–there are 24 organizations on your campus that are speaking out against this kind of racism/hatred. That should say something. We’re fighting this form of intolerance not as a religious community, but as a community grounded with principles of tolerance, patience, mutual respect, and justice.

      • tocof
        April 12, 2013

        You get an F for comprehension and misrepresentation of my comment, an A for spin control and an A for creativity.

        I made no baseless claims, and be specific in your accusations. I stated facts. The fact is, that MSA’s themselves have hosted speakers that are themselves intolerant, support terrorist organizations and their methods, and support the domination of Islam, and it’s Islamic sharia law in America. That you draw the conclusion from my statement that I suggest that therefore, MSAs themselves are terrorist organizations is on your inability to comprehend my statement, not my presentation of facts. Are you feeling a little defensive?

        Your statement here is incoherent: “By stating what you have said, you are embodying terrorism by jeopardizing the social security and acceptance of not only MSA’s but any Middle Eastern/South Asian group in general”

        What do you mean by “measures” in your following statement: “further proving why measures to condemn Islamophobic remarks must be advocated for and pursued because there are people ignorant enough to make such baseless remarks like yourself or the speakers invited to this event” What measures would you suggest need to be taken? Penning op-ed pieces to dispute my assertions? Great, have at it. Protest? Go for it! Censor my statements? Not healthy in a free society where only one perspective or belief is allowed to see the light of day. Advocate for laws that criminalize speech that ‘someone’ else finds offensive? Take a freaking hike.

        Furthermore, you reveal a very important personal agenda in your post when you call my post and statements of fact ‘Islamophobic’. Since when is the statement of facts about Islam, in and of itself, Islamophobic? If by calling me Islamophobic you are attempting to stifle my free speech by intimidating me with name calling, again, take a freaking hike.

        The fact that you found my comments offensive is of no concern to me. The 1st Amendment makes no guarantee that a listener will not find a statement offensive…only that I have a right to state my opinion. The last thing I would do in replying to your comment is tell you, no matter what you said, that I found it offensive…that has no place in a discussion of facts. You are free to dispute my facts, which you didn’t do, but keep your feelings to yourself. And if you believe that the concept of free speech should incorporate subjective restraints, criminal, legal or otherwise, to prevent a listener from being ‘offended’, you should ask for your money back from the institution or ideology that led you to believe that.

        As for ‘brotherhood’, you again miss the point of the facts that I stated. It is a fact that the MSA was founded mainly by individuals with Muslim Brotherhood connections. In fact, Jamal Barzinji, a founding member of the MSA, was a founding father of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and has been involved in creating a number of organizations with Muslim Brotherhood ties. So while you may not have personally encountered anything that appears to be MB connected in your day to day activities with the MSA, the roots of the organization are firmly planted in the Muslim Brotherhood, or Jammat-i-Islami.

        You suggest I stop bringing my own views and judgements about members of the Muslim community into this. In my short comment, you can find no statement where I make any such sweeping generalizations as you claim. I stated simple facts. If you dispute those facts or wish to clarify why the MSAs bring speakers who hold those views, then fine…dispute them, but misrepresent and extort my statements.

        When I state that Islam is intolerant, don’t turn around and call me intolerant because I said that Islam is intolerant, Kids on a playground do that when they say “I know you are, but what am I?” in response to an insult. Tell me why Islam ISN’T intolerant.

        You call me many names in your post, including bigoted, intolerant and essentially, a liar. You will see in my reply I did no such thing regarding you or your comments. Unless you can debate the facts I have posted, or explain them, then put the internet pen down.

        • AM
          April 13, 2013

          I understand and respect your right to free speech–I only spoke out against your comment because it offended me. I know that means nothing to you, and that’s fine. I wanted to present a voice that others reading this article would be able to see and then make their own judgments from.

          I made the assumption that what you were saying had the Islamophobic connotation because of your statement regarding tolerance as a one way street when it comes to Islam. And I’m only speaking from my personal experience when I say that not all MSA’s endorse in the types of speakers that you have mentioned. As long as I’ve been a member, we’ve never had any of them. Also, as for your mentioning of CAIR–”who is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial…the largest terrorism financing trial in America”–that’s not true. I encourage you to look up more information about CAIR and the services it provides to American Muslims to give them a voice and support for defending their rights. CAIR works to remove that image of terrorism that is attached to Muslims–I don’t see anything wrong in that. There are plenty of other organizations like CAIR that represent other groups–does that make them the largest terrorism financing trial in America?

          As for the rest, because you seemed on the opposing side of this letter that was written, I had to present reasons why this letter was important, should be supported, and why the speakers at this event are producing a harmful image of Islam by saying that it thrives on Anti-Semitism and encouraging the government to adopt similar tactics such as they did with the Japanese.

          That’s what I see as intolerance, and your comment about tolerance as a one-way street still comes off as yet another example of intolerance to me. Maybe you feel that you’re justified in saying so, but I beg to differ. That’s all. I don’t have time to sit here and argue all day. If you want to attend this event, then be my guest–but don’t expect to get an accurate image of what Islam is or how the MSA is. If you truly seek that knowledge so that you may form a more objective opinion, I would suggest you spend time talking to the MSA or taking a class on these matters.

          But if you choose to stick with your judgments, be my guest. I won’t stop you–I just want people to know that while the speakers and you are entitled to free speech, free speech comes with a responsibility. I have never made claims about any pro-Israeli or Jewish groups in my comments because I don’t feel that I know enough about them, and I don’t want to make false assumptions or influence others to think badly of these organizations. Which is why I did not do what you did by making your claims about MSA’s and their speakers or how tolerance is a one way street to Islam. What I did do, however, is try to defend a community that I am much more familiar with and have only had good experiences to share.

          • challengerappears
            May 19, 2013

            “not all MSA’s endorse in the types of speakers that you have mentioned.”

            Of course that makes it all better. Not all Germans were nazis, but their complicity in the war and the holocaust is still pretty damning. Not all catholic priests molest little boys, but the Church’s habit of trying to cover up the ones who are is pretty indicative of a systemic flaw. Not all feminists hate men, but their tolerance of man haters hurts the credibilty of the whole movement.

            I’m sure youre very safe from moral scrutiny upon your high horse, since YOUVE never associated with such reprehensible speakers, but your association with an organization that does flirt with them does cast a shadow on your position. I could forgive you if you were at least honest about it; ackowledge that the MSA as a whole, if not on an individual scale, is fundamentally antisemitic and that’s not okay, and i would be able to see you as honest rather than hypocritical. Don’t cry to me about islamophobia in the West when your organization brings the same kind of bigotry and ignorance you claim to be victimized by.

            ‘Don’t try to pluck the speck from my eye with that plank lodged in yours,’ or however it goes.

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