UCLA

It’s the Factual Feminist versus the fanatical feminists.

Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers’ talk at UCLA today is expected to be boycotted. She has been accused of supporting “misogynists” and spewing “hate speech” by a campus group called “Law Women of UCLA.”

The letter, written by the group’s public interest chair Lisa Smith, states in part that attending the talk would “lend credence” to Sommers’ views, and Smith urges others to boycott the event.

Smith is upset Sommers denied the existence of “rape culture” and described the discussion surrounding sexual assault on campus as hysterical, among other complaints.

Sommers, whose “Factual Feminist” YouTube videos are wildly popular, is a former philosophy professor and prolific author known for her critiques of feminism, including Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men.

Sommers responded to the boycott on Twitter:

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Rob Gallop/Flickr

Last week, UCLA hosted a workshop titled “Undocumented and Acting Up: Queering Sovereignty in the Immigrant Rights Movement” led by New York University’s Cristina Beltrán.

In it, Beltrán utilized “insights of queer theory to analyze the political practices of undocumented activists, particularly those who identify now or in the past as DREAM activists.”

In other words, illegal immigrants should reject the “politics of shame and stigma” and … come out.

More, from UCLA’s Department of Political Science:

While the practice of coming out has prompted various scholars to note the connections between immigration and LGBT politics, I argue that what is most powerfully queer about undocumented youth activism has to do with its dual critiques of sovereignty, state action, and preventable death. Turning to writings on AIDS by Gil Cuadros and Douglas Crimp, I explore the resonances between ACT UP’s critique of unnecessary fatalities due to government inaction and indifference to the AIDS crisis and the mass deaths occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border. At times characterized as less than human, both “homosexuals with HIV/AIDS” and “illegals” are populations whose death and suffering are disregarded since the communities in question “brought this on themselves.”

In the abstract of her full paper, Beltrán goes on to say that “Both AIDS activists and the movement for undocumented rights have an ambivalent relationship to the state that seeks to expose government failure while trying to enlist the state’s resources.”

Which appears to translate to “the government is to blame for our problems, so give us money.”

Some of Professor Beltrán’s areas of research and interest should not be surprising: feminist theory, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

According to her personal webpage, Beltrán has been a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show.”

Read the full workshop abstract. (Includes a link to Beltrán’s full paper.)

h/t to The Daily Caller.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Conservative activist David Horowitz has claimed responsibility for posters that showed up around UCLA on Sunday that compare Students for Justice in Palestine to “Hamas executioners,” using the hashtag #JewHaters, Jewish Journal reports.

Horowitz told the Journal:

It is part of a campaign that we are waging to raise awareness of the epidemic of Jew hatred on college campuses, like at UCLA. …

You’ll notice that SJP’s response is to lie about everything. They’re trying to accuse us of the hatred they’re guilty of…They claim to just be critics of Israeli policy. Baloney! They chant on the campuses, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Now what is that about? The river is the Jordan, which is the eastern boundary of Israel. The sea is the Mediterranean, which is the western boundary. Everybody knows what that means. No Jewish state…

On Jews at UCLA who complain he’s an outsider making trouble for them:

That’s what they used to say about us when we were radicals in the ’60s. Come on, an outside organization? I’m a Jew! This affects me. If UCLA wants to support, as they do, financially…if they want to support Jew haters, the people who are actively abetting a second Holocaust in the Middle East, I’m going to oppose that. That I’m not a student now is not going to stop me. That is absurd.

Read the full interview, and further background on the campus response.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Scott Denny/Flickr

UPDATED

FLINT, Mich. – A former Communist Party USA candidate whose weapons were used to kidnap a judge in 1970 told a packed university crowd to “stand up for access to good, organic non-GMO food,” among other progressive causes.

Angela Davis, who was once associated with the Black Panthers and acquitted of conspiracy in the kidnapping, received a standing ovation Friday from the capacity crowd of 400 at the University of Michigan-Flint, with another 300 people viewing from another auditorium, said Pam Zemore, community relations specialist at the school.

Davis encouraged the audience to recognize the “interconnected nature of justice struggles” throughout the world.“

“If we want to put an end to anti-black, anti-Chicano, and anti-Latino racism we will also have to speak out against economic exploitation, against war, against the destruction of the environment, against anti-Muslim racism, against anti-Semitism, against gender bias, against homophobia, and against ableism,” said Davis, whose speaking fees range from $10,000 to $20,000.

angeladavis-big.MarianaBarillas

A former UCLA professor, Davis was recently honored in the school’s “Optimist” marketing campaign, as The College Fix has reported. The professor was fired in 1969 by the UC board of regents for her Communist Party USA membership, and after that rationale was struck down in court, the board fired her in 1970 for using “inflammatory language” in speeches.

She returned to UCLA to teach last spring for the first time in 45 years. Davis is currently a distinguished professor emerita in the “history of consciousness and feminist studies” at UC-Santa Cruz.

Beyond food that’s not tainted by genetically modified organisms, Davis asked the enthusiastic UM-Flint crowd to demand “free education” and “free health care,” and to “recognize the degree in which this contemporary racism” in police forces “is inflected with the ideology of the so-called War against Terror.”

Seeing that “makes us understand the really important connections between anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism,” Davis said. “If we do not understand these connections we will not be effective in our struggles to eradicate racism.”

AssataShakur.NJDeptofCorrections.WMCDavis described Assata Shakur, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for her role in the killing of a New Jersey state trooper, as a “major hero of the black liberation movement.”

Shakur has been “studying, teaching, working, and being very constructive and productive” since her escape from prison to Cuba more than 30 years ago, Davis said.

“This makes you think about what is this thing called terrorism? What is it they are really trying to capture?” Davis asked rhetorically, answering that “we should recognize that this is a retroactive criminalization of the black liberation movement.”

President Barack Obama’s recent overtures toward Cuba have led New Jersey authorities to hope Shakur, whose legal name is Joanne Chesimard, could be captured and returned to finish her prison sentence, NJ.com reported in December. She was the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, in 2013.

Davis referred to the Equal Justice Initiative’s new report on the history of lynching in America, which she said is important because “it urges us to see lynching as an act of terror and to think about the domestic terrorism upon which this country was created.

“There has been an unbroken line of racist killings, vigilante killings, police killings since the era of slavery,” she said, arguing that recent “mobilizations” are simply a response to these issues.

Get involved with “communities that are struggling,” Davis encouraged the audience. “We cannot pivot to the center, we cannot be moderate.”

angeladavis-big2.MarianaBarillas

UM-Flint student Elena Sobrino told The Fix after the lecture that Davis “made a really good impression on me as somebody who I wasn’t really directly familiar” with her.

“I love when they bring controversial figures,” said another UM-Flint student, Thomas Mann, of the school’s invited speakers. “They shouldn’t bring anyone but controversial figures as long as they’re controversial figures of the Left.”

“When you start thinking about race and injustice as far as the proportions of people of color in our prison-industrial system or our corrections system, I think those things have been prevalent the past couple of decades,” UM-Dearborn student Keith McCallum told The Fix. “The fact that she’s here and speaking on it … hits home.”

CORRECTION: Angela Davis did not graduate from UCLA. The article has been amended to reflect this.

College Fix reporter Mariana Barillas is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGES: Mariana Barillas, New Jersey Department of Corrections/Wikimedia Commons

ANALYSIS: Blatant act of anti-Semitism shocks UCLA community

A UCLA student this week declared in an op-ed in The Daily Bruin that members of the university’s student government should apologize for its recent discriminatory act.

Written by student Rachel Frenklak, it highlighted an Undergraduate Students Association meeting last week during which many of its council members opposed the confirmation of a student to a subcommittee – based on the fact that she is Jewish.

It was a clear and shocking example of anti-Semitism, and the incident has raced through social media outlets and prompted concern and outrage among many in the UCLA and Jewish communities.

At the Feb. 10 hearing, several members did not want to confirm Rachel Beyda to the association’s judicial board, the committee that determines if the student government’s actions comply with its bylaws. Essentially council members argued Beyda’s Jewish heritage is not compatible with the interests of the UCLA student government.

By Frenklak’s account, Beyda had been previously confirmed by the three-member council appointments review committee, and was thoroughly qualified for the position. However, after Beyda introduced herself and made the case for her confirmation, the subsequent question and deliberation period took a disturbing turn.

(Pictured: Rachel Beyda)RBeyda

Student government member Fabienne Roth commenced the question period by asking Beyda: “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, given that recently…(inaudible)…has been surrounding cases of conflict of interest, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view in…(inaudible)…?”

At this point the Undergraduate Students Association president, Jewish student Avinoam Baral, interjected that “questioning a candidate’s ability to remain unbiased simply on the basis of her being a member of a particular community is an inappropriate question that we would not feel comfortable asking student members of other communities.”

The “case” marked by a “conflict of interest” that Roth referred to is likely the case brought before the judicial board last year by Students for Justice in Palestine against two members of the student government. It was brought in the aftermath of the USAC vote on the unsuccessful Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions affiliated “Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights.”

SJP alleged that the two student council members in question were ineligible to vote on the matter, per student government bylaws, because they had taken prior trips to Israel funded by outside Jewish groups. SJP claimed these students’ affiliations with outside Jewish groups provided prima facie evidence of a “conflict of interest.”

Roth drove at the same principle when she questioned Beyda’s ability to remain unbiased merely because of her outside affiliations.

After Baral rejected the question, a second council member, Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, posed the same question using less obvious terms. A third council member piggy-backed on the previous questions by asking Beyda what she thinks constitutes a conflict of interest.

“Rachel was asked to leave the room for council discussion,” Frenklak recounted. “What followed was a disgusting 40 minutes of what can only be described as unequivocal anti-Semitism during which some of our council members resorted to some of the oldest accusations against Jews, including divided loyalties and dishonesty.”

Half of the student council expressed at least some opposition to confirmation due to Beyda’s affiliations, and four councilmembers initially voted not to confirm based on such opposition.

“For some reason, I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I don’t know why,” council member Sadeghi-Movahed had said during the meeting. “I’ll go through her application again. I’ve been going through it constantly, but I definitely can see that she’s qualified for sure.”

Council member Roth said that she was opposed to confirmation, despite Beyda’s qualifications, because she is “part of a community [the Jewish community] that is very invested in USAC.”

After the initial vote failed to confirm Beyda, Frenklak writes that an attending faculty member stepped in to point out how USAC’s prohibition of conflict of interest, which includes “perceived conflict of interest,” is essentially impossible to comply with as it is subject to the perceptions of whoever happens to be a current council member. The faculty member stressed the importance of distinguishing between perceived and actual conflicts of interest.

After the faculty member’s emendation to the seemingly obstinate discussion of conflict of interest, the council members eventually unanimously approved Beyda for the position.

Nonetheless, Frenklak said she believes that the four members’ initial vote against Beyda constitutes a bold-faced act of anti-Semitism.

In addition to Frenklak’s op-ed, the Daily Bruin published an editorial admonishing council members.

“Religious affiliations and ethnic identity should not and do not disqualify someone from being an effective judge,” it stated. “And yet, at Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting, that’s exactly what council members were arguing.”

“Barring the dubious legality of not appointing someone based on his or her religious identity, the controversy over Beyda’s appointment makes little logical sense,” the editorial added. “The extent of Beyda’s involvement in Jewish community groups is irrelevant to her ability to execute her job on the Judicial Board. Suggesting otherwise implies that any person with any kind of community identity cannot make objective decisions on the board.”

The UCLA “Principles of Community” states:

We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other conduct causing harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship or national origin among, other personal characteristics. Such conduct violates UCLA’s Principles of Community and may result in imposition of sanctions according to campus policies governing the conduct of students, staff and faculty.

It remains to be seen whether Undergraduate Students Association council members who assumed Beyda may vote a certain way based on her religious beliefs, and thus profiled and discriminated against her, will be subject to sanctions.

College Fix reporter Josh Hedtke is a student at UCLA.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the two students on the student government’s judicial board who were charged last year with a conflict of interest by Students for Justice in Palestine for traveling to Israel and being involved with Jewish groups were Jewish. They are not. 

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

UC-Berkeley campus groups, including the Muslim Student Association, Hillel, and Students for Justice in Palestine, held a memorial observance for the three murdered North Carolina students on Thursday.

Like that seen elsewhere in the country, accusations of media bias and Islamophobia came up:

“The media coverage has been very minimal, they’ve been slow to cover it, and they’ve avoided discussing the prejudice involved,” [MSA co-chair Unis Barakat] said. “The culture of Islamophobia is very important to combat at UC Berkeley to avoid resurgence and protect our community.”

The Daily Californian reports:

Approximately 200 students gathered on the steps of Sproul around 6 p.m., many greeting each other with hugs and words of assurance. The program began with a reading of verses from the Quran, followed by a video tribute from one of the victim’s friends.

Abdi Hassan, co-chair of the MSA, said that despite the event’s gravity, he hoped that the vigil would strengthen the campus community.

“This isn’t a Muslim-only tragedy,” he said. “This is a tragedy for college students everywhere. This affects all of us as students. This could have been any students from any community.”

Unis Barakat, co-chair of MSA, spoke prior to the event and called the vigil a way for the student body to express its grief and support for the victims’ families.

Barakat also emphasized the importance of holding the media accountable in order to confront the issue of Islamophobia.

After a minute of silence, individuals in the crowd were asked to turn to their neighbors and share their reactions upon hearing the news reports of the shootings. Many cited shock, sadness and frustration with the media, while others were shaken by the similarities between themselves and the victims.

Marium Navid, a UC Berkeley junior and ASUC senator, spoke about the events at UNC during Wednesday’s ASUC meeting. Although she said the ASUC has no definite plans, she added that “there will be some type of action.”

Navid said the ASUC and campus groups, such as the Greek community, hope to hold anti-Islamophobia workshops in the near future.

Thus far, there is scant evidence that the killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, was motivated by anything other than anger over a parking situation.

Current evidence also shows that Hicks doesn’t harbor a special disdain for Islam — he despises all religions.

As for the media bias issue, the fact that Hicks appears to be an atheist with a penchant for progressive causes is likely the reason the media was slow — not in reporting the killings — but, if anything, in dissecting his background.

UPDATE: UCLA held a vigil the same day with many expressing similar sentiments about Islamophobia and media coverage.

Read the full DC article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: FirasMT/Flickr