On Monday evening at Tufts University, I attended a long, grueling show trial — the kind of show trial that doubtless will be repeated at campuses across the United States. This show trial was convened with the sole purpose of punishing The Primary Source, Tufts’ lone conservative periodical.
What was The Source’s sin? On December 6, 2006, The Source printed a tasteless parody carol entitled "O Come, All Ye Black Folk." The carol was written from the perspective of an admissions officer, admitting students solely based on racially discriminatory stereotypes: "All come! Blacks, we need you, / Born into the ghetto. / O Jesus! We need you now to fill our racial quotas." The point of the carol, the editors later said, was that affirmative action is inherently degrading to racial minorities. After the carol was misinterpreted, the editors repeatedly apologized for printing it.
In the April 11, 2007, issue, The Source printed a page entitled "Islam: Arabic Translation: Submission." The page carried quotes from the Koran juxtaposed with facts about certain adherents of Islam — their involvement with terrorism, discrimination against women, and the slave trade, among others.
This material is clearly political speech. Though Tufts is a private university, the student handbook explains that "the university is committed to free and open discussion of ideas and opinions."
Well, not that committed. "Harassment involves attitudes or opinions that are expressed verbally or in writing, or through behavior that constitutes a threat, intimidation, psychological attack, or physical assault," says the handbook. "Harassment is prohibited at Tufts and may result in disciplinary consequences." And being offended, according to the Committee on Student Life (CSL), constitutes harassment.
Such policies incentivize victimology. Predictably, one David Dennis, a self-described gay black student, brought a complaint of harassment before the CSL averring that the carol constituted a "psychological attack by causing any black student to question their own intelligence and capability as a student at Tufts based solely on their skin color." Meanwhile, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) similarly claimed that the "Islam: Arabic Translation: Submission" piece was "a deliberate attack on the Muslims on campus and is clearly meant to provoke us."
So the CSL held a hearing to determine whether The Source ought to be punished. The show trial was closed to outside media; I was only present because members of The Primary Source editorial board asked if I would give a closing statement on their behalf.
And a show trial it was. The room was filled to capacity with Dennis and MSA allies, who cheered, on cue, for Dennis and his MSA compatriot, Shirwac Mohamed. Dennis and Mohamed called witness after witness to complain of emotional distress: a lesbian student who whined that The Source opposed the homosexual agenda; a black female student who complained that she had — horror of horrors! — been engaged in a dialogue about the carol during one of her classes; a member of the MSA who carped that the quotes from the Koran were not placed "in context." Not one witness showed documented evidence of psychological harm.
And the CSL swallowed this gibberish whole. Barbara Grossman, the radical left chair of the CSL, compared printing the carol to spray-painting a swastika on a synagogue. Another CSL member stated that labeling Islam violent was unacceptable in any way, shape or form.
The process was a mockery. After an initial request for silence, the crowd was allowed to cheer for the complainants and razz The Source. The CSL board allotted twice as much time to Dennis and Mohamed than they did to The Source. They granted Dennis and Mohamed extra time, while clocking The Source to the second. Dennis was allowed to slander members of The Source as racists, stating that the conservative agenda was "lower taxes, less government, hate black people."
Around midnight, I gave my closing statement, explaining that diversity of thought means protection of unpopular political views. Then Dennis took the floor to attack The Source. "We don’t like you. Nobody likes you," he said. "There should be consequences."
Dennis and Mohamed will likely receive what they want from a board so biased it makes Castro’s judiciary look like a haven of open-mindedness. If you’re against affirmative action — if you feel, as Justice Clarence Thomas does, that it is inherently degrading — you may be guilty of harassment at Tufts. If you believe that Islam is linked to violence, you may be guilty of harassment at Tufts. On the Tufts campus, forget defending your views or listening to others’ views: Victimology trumps all.
Just the latest incident in the ongoing Stalin-esque ideological purge on America’s college campuses.