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.

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