Today a letter attacking me was sent to all members of the UCLA community – that would be nearly 50,000 people I think – by Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Jerry Kang. The Vice Chancellor’s letter attacked me as a “provocateur” who last year “put up hostile posters accusing two student organizations — the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — of being murderers and terrorists.” This is a lie.
Actually it is two lies. First, the posters posted last year targeted only Students for Justice in Palestine – not the Muslim Students Association. Kang obviously included MSA so that he could condemn me for employing what he called a “tactic of guilt by association, of using blacklists, of ethnic slander, and sensationalized images engineered to trigger racially-tinged fear.” (Calling people you don’t agree with racist seems to be a favored gutter tactic of activists on campuses like UCLA these days.)
Second the posters did not accuse SJP of being an organization of murderers and terrorists, as the Vice Chancellor claims. They accused SJP of being “Jew-haters” because they support the murderers and terrorists of Hamas, which they do. That is why the only words on the posters were “Students for Justice in Palestine” and “#Jew Haters.” In a public statement I also called on UCLA to remove the campus privileges and university funding of SJP because they are a hate group and their activities routinely violate UCLA’s “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,” which Vice Chancellor Kang professes to champion.
Kang then accused me of compounding these sins by conducting a new poster campaign – launched yesterday - called “Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus.” The new posters listed the names of UCLA student and faculty activists who support SJP and BDS – the Hamas-inspired boycott movement, designed to strangle the Jewish state. Kang’s letter calls the posters “a focused, personalized intimidation that threatens specific members of our Bruin community.” There is no intimidation on the posters, just a list of names of activists who support SJP and BDS. Nonetheless, Kang went on to elaborate “if your name is plastered around campus, casting you as a murderer or terrorist, how could you stay focused on anything like learning, teaching, or research?” But the posters don’t cast those listed on them as murderers and terrorists, just activists from Students for Justice in Palestine who supported the BDS boycott campaign. BDS has been denounced by figures as liberal as Alan Dershowitz and Larry Summers as anti-Semitic. Kang sent a personal letter of support to all those named as activists in behalf of these anti-Semitic campaigns. He then went on to lecture everybody about diversity, tolerance and inclusion.
This disgraceful performance by a top university official demands a retraction and apology from the University of California and some serious reflection by Vice Chancellor Kang about the hateful content of his letter and the focused, personalized intimidation directed at myself and all those involved in putting up posters he happens to disagree with. He might also reflect on his own words: “Regardless of our religion, regardless of our politics, we should all agree that thuggish intimidation is beneath us, that demagoguery isn’t our style. Fellow Bruins, let us stand together for at least this.” Amen. Finally, if the Chancellor can take a pause from his homogenized and hypocritical outrage and his truckling to campus radical groups, he might also benefit from a re-reading of the First Amendment and learn to live with opinions he doesn’t like.