Saturday, March 12, 2016

A New Controversy at UC Irvine

Hat tip Campus Reform

"One person's hate speech is another person's education."

I was totally unaware of this story until coming across it on Campus Reform. A member of the UC Irvine student government is under fire for some mocking comments he made about Islam on Facebook. Here is the story.

Without the benefit of any inside knowledge, I would like to say a couple of things.

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I have met one of the students in this story, Nick Gallo. I consider him to be a highly courageous young man. While not Jewish, he has been active in defending Jewish students and has been a member of Anteaters for Israel.

I am not familiar with George Novshadyan. My first reaction to the comments he made on Facebook is that he was correct in apologizing.

As a part-time teacher at UCI who has been writing (critically) on the subject of Islam on this blog (which has no affiliation with UCI) , I wonder why they are not demanding my removal from my little teaching gig. I do think I have tried to keep it on a serious note-not mocking or making fun of the religious beliefs of others-but seriously questioning what implications Islamic ideology has for the rest of the world given world events.

And I will never apologize for one word. I don't need the job.

As for Thomas Parham's words in support of the protesters, I would like to say a few things. I have never met Dr Parham. I have sent a few letters to him about issues I was concerned about on the UCI campus over the last couple of years. That includes my concern about Jewish events being disrupted by Muslim students using the Cross Cultural Center as a staging area to disrupt Jewish events on campus and a female Jewish student who was president of Anteaters for Israel being berated by the then CEO of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Shalom Elcott, blaming her for the Muslim Student Union disruption. It also includes my complaint that campus police, on the request of the Muslim Student Union, had prevented me from videotaping a public event in a public venue. It also includes my concern about the recent speaking appearance at UCI of a man I consider a cop-killer, Sekou Odinga, not so much that he was speaking, rather the fact that the announcement on the event on the web page of the UCI School of Humanities  used his own self-description as a "US political prisoner of war". To be fair, these letters were sent to several UCI officials, of which Dr Parham was only one of the addressees, and my inquiries were answered by other officials. Dr Parham himself has never responded.

I would also like to ask Dr Parham this:

Did you have anything to say when Amir Abdel Malik Ali was appearing on the UCI campus almost on a yearly basis and making anti-Semitic statements, calling the Jews in the audience, "the new Nazis" or referring to various individuals as "Zionist Jews" literally spitting out the word "Jew"? I had something to say-directly to Ali-on several occasions. I have told him to his face that he was an anti-Semite who hated his own country.Where were you?

Where were you, Dr Parham, when the MSU put up a caricature of Ariel Sharon on their anti-Israel mock apartheid wall in 2008, drawn in the style of the Nazi weekly, Der Stuermer? I spoke out. Where were you?

And where were you, Dr Parham when a Jewish female student was verbally accosted a few years ago at UCI by MSU students yelling in her face and accusing her of being all sorts of horrible things because she supported Israel? That girl complained to the university about the incident and according to multiple reports, you advised her to seek counseling as if there were something wrong with her.

So before you get on your high horse and attack one of your own students, Dr Parham, consider what you did or said-or didn't do or didn't say- in response to the above events. I have spoken out about those things. You have not.

Just what are UCI's "principles of community?"

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