Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Special 4-Part Series on the Temple University Purpose Group – Part 3, Socialists & Muslim Student Outrage

If the “free speech” of another disagrees with your opinion or agenda, do you automatically deem it “hate speech”? The Supreme Court of the United States does not as evidenced by the recent hard core decision on the Westboro Church case.

Do you insist on the right for those interested in listening to a differing political opinion from yours be shouted down and shut down? Do you ridicule and smear as forms of intimidation to expression of an opposing view? Do you insist behavior rules be applied to a group you disagree with which you don’t apply to your own?

In many ways, this is what is being modeled by the grown ups to college students. The traditional media’s bias fans the flame of all free speech not being equal or in essence of all political ideology not being worthy of unbiased coverage.

The President of the United States, as well as other politicians, has labeled Americans protesting his policies with derogatory names. Unions in Wisconsin have tried to shut down the democratic process, because their side did not have the votes to ensure a legislative outcome they favored.

Joy Behar and Whoopie walked off The View during an appearance by Bill O’Reilly, because they did not agree with his language in a heated discussion about Muslim terrorism. Barbara Walters immediately voiced her colleagues were wrong in handling the discourse in this way.

Wisconsin Senate Democrats run away to Illinois to avoid a vote. Wisconsin Senate Republicans receive death threat emails and protests at their homes, because they voted.

Is this what has become of handling differing opinions in America – name calling, running away, death threats, shouting down, or playing the oppressed card? These are the tactics being modeled as the strategy to force what you want outside of defending your position in good faith debate and negotiations.

Most college campuses have become a hotbed of welcoming some controversial speakers, usually on the left, and shouting down other controversial speakers, usually on the right, for the most part with a few exceptions.

College students regularly protest invited speakers whose views they do not agree with, and speakers know protests may be a normal element in their presentation experience. This is free speech. Shouting down a speaker, so they are shut down and can not speak, is exercising your right of free speech to only disallow another their right of free speech.

As detailed by TU Purpose President Alvaro Watson in Part 2, “Many liberal student groups - TU and Philadelphia International Socialists and Democratic Socialists, TU Muslim Student Association, TU Students for Justice in Palestine, TU Feminist Majority, TU All Sides, TU Student Government Senate - loudly protested our decision to host Wilders labeling us racists.”

Socialist and Muslim student groups accused Purpose of “supporting and perpetuating hate and racism” and labeled Purpose “bigots for singling out an underrepresented population.” They tried to force Purpose to rescind the Wilders invitation and to have the event shut down by a resolution before it took place. The Muslim Student Association claimed they had received a death threat but could produce no evidence of such on investigation.

Alvaro was personally attacked as being a hypocrite, because his study area is social work. He received hate emails like this one from a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine group: “How exactly did I end up on the list serve of some reactionary-ass racist group who can't even pretend to have any interest in the betterment of humanity? Your rhetoric is apologetic to genocide and you're all pathetic. Genocide-loving racist clowns!”

The Temple University Wilders event brought an attendance of approximately 500 students to hear him speak. The event became hostile when members of the Students for Justice in Palestine used the Q&A period to call Wilders names and give speeches. This shut down the event and had Wilders escorted out by security.

Alvaro recounts, “After the event, the newly formed Religious Studies Club invited me to their lounge so that they could talk with me about the division Purpose had caused on campus.”

“I was excited, because I thought finally people want to talk about it instead of just perpetuating rumors about the Wilders event and Purpose. In reality, the Religious Studies Club turned out to be only members of the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Democratic Socialist.”

“The meeting turned out to be an ambush by them to interrogate me and accuse me of bad things like formulating a calculated attack on the Muslims on campus. They asked me had I not thought about how this event would turn out. And, honestly, I would never have imagined that holding an event on free speech and radical Islam would create such outrage. These are timely and important topics in America today.”

Alvaro detailed the continued fight for his Purpose group, “After Wilders left, Temple Student Government Allocations refused to fund us for events, even those unrelated to Islam. In other words, the funding obstacles they threw at us, which made it impossible to apply, were their attempt to make us invisible and stop us from having any events.”

He extended, “All of the events we had afterward were possible in three ways. The speakers were kind enough to still come knowing they would not be paid. They did this because they believed in what we were doing. Second, during the spring of 2010, I used a large lump of my own money to pay for the hotel and security costs.”

“Allocations strung me along until the last minute making me think they were going to help. This was over several weeks, and the speakers were already invited. The speakers had prepared presentation materials just for our events, and it was too late for me to cancel. I paid about $800 out of pocket.”

“And last, when I could no longer afford to pay myself, I emailed and called numerous organizations in Philadelphia and in New Jersey to seek (beg, really) private donors.”

Alvaro recalls, “It was not until a year later, the fall of 2010, after Wilders that we were granted funding for our event on the Ground Zero Mosque on October 7, 2010. That was another fight. At the beginning of that semester, the Allocations Chair made a "rule" stating that any event that offends a large number of persons would not be funded. What was defined as offensive would be determined by a committee made up of students and the Allocations Chair. He noted this rule was made in response to and specifically for Purpose.”

Alvaro took this ruling to the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and filed a complaint against Temple University. FIRE fought the case with Purpose.

Alvaro notes, “This TU rule was dissolved because we fought it. The honorariums for the speakers were funded for the first time but not fully until four months later in January 2011. This 2011spring semester was the first semester that all of the funds Purpose requested were successfully allocated without any friction at all from anyone.”

In total, FIRE has filed four cases against Temple University. Two cases involved freedom of speech. Two cases directly concentrated on violations of the rights of the Temple University Purpose group.

One Purpose case defended by FIRE concluded, “February 11, 2010: Temple University has withdrawn an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university on a student group for hosting a presentation last October by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in his native country for his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam. Temple dropped its demand for an extra security fee under pressure from FIRE. Temple's policy for controversial events, however, remains ambiguous and unacceptably arbitrary.”

The second direct Purpose case argued by FIRE was in regard to Purpose being put on probation by Temple University. They were taken off probation.

Alvaro notes other controversial speakers have come to TU, “The Muslim Student Association hosted a representative of the Philadelphia Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Students for Justice in Palestine are hosting Dr. Finkelstein on April 7 during Palestine Awareness Week, otherwise known as the Israel Apartheid Week. Purpose will host Nonie Darwish on April 12.”

Alvaro continues, “Purpose hosted Amir Fahkravar whom is the President of the Confederation of Iranian Students. We have hosted Robert Spencer whom is Director of Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller. They co-founded the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America. They were invited to speak on the nature and implication of the Ground Zero Mosque. The Muslim Student Association was invited to invite a speaker for a join event with us. They declined our invitation, because they disapproved of our speakers.”

Alvaro believes there is a difference in the way pro-Israel and anti-Israel speakers have been treated at TU events he has attended. “I attended an event held by the Students for Israel in which a speaker from the Philadelphia Israel Consulate was invited. A couple of members from the Students for Justice in Palestine showed up only to insult and mock the speaker.”

“A few weeks ago, the Students for Justice in Palestine hosted two Muslim journalists. I felt they presented very biased accounts of their experiences in the West Bank and Gaza. During the Q&A portion, everyone who asked questions was treated with respect until the President of the Philadelphia Zionists of America asked a question. He was continually interrupted by the SJP President and rushed to ask his question. Before posing his question, he attempted to make a point, but the SJP President pressured him to ask the question. Others who were anti-Israel persons had made longer speeches and were not interrupted.”

Alvaro reflects, “It’s unfortunate that Purpose, an organization that promotes a willingness to understand by gaining information through discussion, is unable to sit down and talk with other groups, because their sole aim is to consistently disrupt and terrorize Purpose’s constant effort to create an inclusive dialogue.”

He feels, “The shamelessly aggressive students of political correctness at TU are concerned only with perpetuating the anger and falsehoods that so conveniently support their biased Marxist agendas. The only option with which we are left to respond to such groups is to compose letters that both refute and rebuke their outlandish, overly subjective, and emotional statements.”

Refusing to render his free speech rights and critical thinking goals to political correctness, Alvaro finds the alliance of socialist and Muslim students about one thing in reality. “There isn’t a natural alliance in many ways, for most socialists are not Muslim, and most Muslim are not socialists. The alliance is forged by there being a strong mutual hate for capitalism and the American or western culture in general. Both groups want to see the end of capitalism and the transformation of America into their ideological views of society.”

“My experience at Purpose leads me to believe many want this done with questioning dismissed, negative attention suppressed, negative truths unexamined, differing ideological opposition attacked, open debate disallowed, and public objection misrepresented and silenced.”

Part 1 – Free Speech & Critical Thinking
Part 2 – Being Labeled Racist
Part 4 - Upholding Intent & Moving Forward
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1 comment:

  1. Working by the senate is really important and also for the students they are doing some good jobs,specially about the labeled Americans protesting his policies with derogatory names,you told,so this is good to see the factor about the jobs and policies which is really useful for the people and for the students specially,so great work this is.