Accusations of hate speech make great headlines for newspapers, even if those accusations turn out to be wrong — or even worse — contrived. Such is the case at The George Washington University (GWU). Administrators at GWU are on a rampage against a conservative group on campus for posting anti-Muslim fliers that the group had nothing to do with. The Young America’s Foundation chapter at GWU was blamed for disseminating fliers that read “Hate Muslims? So Do We!!” The flier went on to describe a “typical Muslim” as having “lasers in eyes,” “venom from mouth,” “hatred for women”, and a “suicide vest.”
As it turns out, the fliers were a dirty trick, specifically created to stoke hatred where none had existed. That much is clear from taking a moment’s reflection to view the flier. The bottom of the flier, for instance, spitefully reads “Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness.” And as if that weren’t enough to tip off University officials that this was a stunt of malicious intent, the very last line stating “PS Seriously, do a google video search for ‘The Power of Nightmares’ ” should have ended any doubts. The film argues that the threat of radical Islam worldwide is in fact a myth perpetrated by politicians in America who have been hoodwinked by neoconservatives.
With the charges of hate speech unraveling before the campus community’s eyes, the University should have cleared the names of the students unfairly targeted and denounced the flier as a cheap attempt to sully the reputation of conservatives sponsoring a forum on the threat of radical Islam. GWU did some denouncing, but astonishingly, made the Muslims, not the conservatives, out to be the real victims of hate and intolerance.
In fact, one school administrator even tried to get the Young America’s Foundation chapter to sign a statement disavowing hate speech that may originate from any of their future events. Bridgette Behling, the assistant director of the Student Activities Center at GWU, wrote an email to Sergio Gor, the club’s president, saying “due to the inflammatory nature of today’s events [falsified posters], as a good faith effort on behalf of YAF, it is important that YAF drafts a statement which states that you will not allow hate speech to be a part of any of YAF’s events, literature, written or verbal communication …. This statement should also include your plan for preventing these things from happening as well as the consequences for these things happening.”
Just to be clear, the conservative activists awoke one morning to find an all-out-assault on their club and programming, and some school administrator suggests that these same students — who have no prior incident of wrongdoing — sign a document that allows the University to define what is acceptable speech.
That’s not how a free society operates.
The school’s President, Steven Knapp, also fired off ire in the wrong direction. “There is no place for expressions of hatred on our campus,” while a student, Steve Glatter, added, “The deep frustration expressed by the community…is testament to the strength of our community and our passion in preventing future acts of hateful natures.”
Fair enough. But Knapp needs to explain how come neither he nor his administration protected the reputation of students who were wrongfully maligned and who were the victims of fanaticism. And Knapp also needs to explain why the Director of Student Activities, Tim Miller, presumed that the conservatives were guilty before they even represented their innocence.
It must be said that the Left is notorious for manufacturing incidents of “hate” and then turning around to attribute such incidents to alleged intolerance. At San Francisco State, for example, two black students scribbled racial epithets in their own dormitories and then claimed “white racists” did it. At Boise State University, a homosexual student beat himself up, but told the police he was assaulted because of his sexuality. In California, a visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College spray painted her own car with ethnic slurs, slashed her tires, and shattered her windshield and then attributed the vandalism to campus racists.
The George Washington University chose to reward campus radicals who used sabotage and forgery in an attempt to suppress and distort conservative activism. Any serious institution should defend the rights of its students from such shameless character assassination, and should make it known that intimidation and smear campaigns are intolerable. GWU failed on all counts.