Free Speech vs. Banning Jews | News, Sports, Jobs

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist

The University of California, Berkeley is known for many things, some good and some very bad, even outrageous.

In 1964, a ban on political and religious activities on campuses started what was called the free speech and academic freedom movement which quickly spread to other campuses. For many of an older generation, this quickly spiraled out of control. During his run for governor in 1966, Ronald Reagan promised to “clean up the mess in Berkeley”, and ending what had evolved from free speech to project-related strikes, civil rights, discrimination and women’s liberation.

Whatever opinion one had of the Troubles at the time – liberals loved it and conservatives like Reagan vowed to stop it – what is happening now in Berkeley should put shame, especially on those who believe in freedom of expression and oppose discrimination.

Nine groups of law school students succeeded in amending the university’s statutes to ban any speaker who supports Israel or Zionism.

These are not groups that “represent only a small percentage of the student population”, according to the Jewish Journal. These include the Women of Berkeley Law, the United States Asian-Pacific Law Students Association, the Middle East and North Africa Law Students Association, law students of African descent and the Queer Caucus.

Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a progressive Zionist, observed that he would be banned under this standard, as would 90% of his Jewish students.

Writing in the Jewish Journal, Kenneth L. Marcus, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights and UC Berkeley Law School alumnus, notes: “Berkeley law students are not the first to exclude Zionists. At the State University of New York in New Paltz, activists kicked out two sexual assault victims from a group of survivors because they were Zionists. At the University of Southern California, they ousted Rose Ritch, vice president of Jewish student government, threatening to “remove [her] … At Tufts, they tried to oust student judiciary committee member Max Price from the student government judiciary committee because of his support for Israel.

Despite his statement that he would be silenced due to the change in statutes, Dean Chemerinsky responded to Marcus, saying that not all student groups have banned pro-Israel and Zionist speakers. This prompted Marcus to counter: “Would it be acceptable for only 5% or 10% of the campus to be separated? What percentage of the Berkeley campus should be open to everyone? Shouldn’t that be 100%? »

The question answers – or should answer – itself.

Marcus further refutes Chemerinsky’s assertion of a campus that does not discriminate: “Chemerinsky misses the point when he insists that all clubs admit Jewish students as members.

Nobody denies it. Nevertheless, an unequivocal signal is sent to these same students when they are told that they would be banned from appearing as guest speakers. This sends a clear signal: Jews are not welcome unless they deny their support for Israel, which for many is an integral part of Jewish identity.

What do students have to be afraid of hearing arguments on all sides of an issue? If a university does not protect freedom of expression, it becomes an agent of censorship, even propaganda.

As anti-Semitism rises again in Europe and the United States, educational institutions should teach its history, not allowing the promotion of a new strain. Isn’t that the view of those who support critical race theory?

Especially with America’s history during World War II when the Roosevelt administration limited the number of Jews desperately fleeing Nazi Germany to enter this country, Berkeley and other students should be more welcoming to Jews, protect their freedom of expression and not silence them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers can email Cal Thomas at [email protected] Look for the latest book by Cal Thomas “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

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Christy J. Olson