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Accused of discrimination and white privilege, USC College Republicans president fights back

“Fight On” is the fight song of the University of Southern California, and it’s a mantra USC College Republicans President Jacob Ellenhorn is taking to heart.

Classes hadn’t even started back up yet this month when Ellenhorn was accused of white privilege, oppression, discrimination and appropriation in the Daily Trojan campus newspaper.

An Aug. 19 op-ed stated in part that Ellenhorn and other USC College Republicans who dared question the need for the “I Too Am USC” initiative in the privacy of their own closed USC College Republicans Facebook group were guilty of discrimination and proof the expensive Southern California institution is steeped in racism.

The columnist said the notion that white conservatives could be discriminated against is akin to “appropriating experiences of systemic racism, sexism and classism onto that of their own false struggle.”

“I Too Am USC” is a relatively new university funded initiative that aims to “create a safe space for all marginalized communities on campus.” A safe space for everyone but College Republicans, that is.

The social justice activists suggested in June that the CR’s private Facebook comments critical of “I Too Am USC” were bigoted, white-privileged rants. One commenter even said of Ellenhorn: “Sounds like little man needs a couple weedgies and a few slaps upside the head.”

Last week, the issue was re-ignited in the opinion pages of the Daily Trojan, which took issue with Ellenhorn defending himself in an interview with The College Fix.

“Amid the racist, elitist overtones of the discussion present in both Ellenhorn’s interview and the original comments is a conscious disregard for the ItooamUSCshprevalence of white privilege and entitlement on campus,” stated the op-ed, written by student Lida Dianti.

“One of the College Republicans members posted a meme stating: ‘I fight on because I am tired of getting weird looks for saying that I am a Republican and that I love my country.’ By drawing a comparison to their own ‘victimization’ as Republicans, many of whom are male and white, these specific members of the College Republicans discount the experiences of minority students,” she wrote.

RELATED: University training guide suggests white males ‘cannot be oppressed’

The op-ed went on to state:

Claiming to be a minority does not make one a minority — it is not a label to be thrown on for the sake of momentary advantage. Moreover, other comments said that the students featured in the social media campaign “live under ISIS,” and that “USG takes this group very seriously and funds them and their events with our money.” Referring to the USG funds as “their” money is an example of such entitlement; at the same time, their statement also puts minority students in the group of “other.” …

[B]y denying the marginalization of minorities, they are choosing to contribute to discrimination on campus. This type of ignorance does nothing but reinforce oppressive boundaries and further isolate USC students from one another.

By labeling themselves as a “minority” for the case of argument, the USC College Republicans are appropriating experiences of systemic racism, sexism and classism onto that of their own false struggle. They do so with the use of tongue-in-cheek diction and memes to belittle such appropriation. Instead of apologizing for their racist and uncalled-for statements, these students continue to fight on for discrimination and still have the audacity to cry out for inclusion.

Ellenhorn has since penned a response, a copy of which has been provided to The College Fix as well as sent in to the Trojan:

Dear Editor,

In an article posted on Aug 19, 2015 by the Daily Trojan, opinion writer Lida Dianti offers a personal, defamatory and thinly veiled anti-semitic attack directed at me.

I am viciously slandered as racist, elitist, entitled, and privileged. Ms. Dianti freely hurls out the age old anti-Semitic canard, of the Jew controlling money. Ms. Dianti, spins my concern for how tuition dollars are spent as a primitive fixation on money. This language contributes to the article’s use of anti-Semitic tropes that portrays the Jew as a scheming usurer.

I will not allow Ms. Dianti to disregard valid points about intellectual diversity on our campus. The fact is that Left Wing Privilege turns up the volume on marginalized voices. Those like me, who offer diversity of thought, are not only mocked but are threatened with calls to “slap me upside my head” simply because I too am part of USC, like it or not.

The online vitriol directed at me, with anti-Semitic overtones, will not silence me. In fact, I have decided to do exactly the same thing members who revel in Left Wing Privilege have done. I demand that Ms. Dianti issue an apology for using language steeped in micro aggressions. I also demand that the university take formal action against those who have threatened me with violence on Facebook. And finally I demand that conservative voices like mine be a part of the I Too Am USC Campaign.

Dianti disregards my valid points about intellectual diversity on our campus, and campuses across our country, and instead chooses to focus on what she calls my “privileged background” while ignoring the fact that she enjoys Left Wing Privilege. Instead of focusing on the valid points I made, Ms. Dianti chose to engage in rhetoric that is intellectually dishonest, defamatory, and anti-Semitic. Those who enjoy Left Wing Privilege simply ignore the fact that conservatives are very sensitive to the difficulties marginalized groups have endured and continue to endure. Conservatives believe that there is a remedy for this marginalization but that remedy should not include perpetual self victimization, self segregation, and demonization of “others” that are perceived as non marginalized groups.

Something needs to change. I will not stand down. Thank you, Jacob Ellenhorn

Ellenhorn shows courage in the face of enormous pressure. USC should allow the campus-funded “I Too Am USC” to showcase conservatives who are marginalized and attacked, but the only “oppression” such leaders are interested in advancing comes from a leftist perspective.

RELATED: 38 ways college students enjoy ‘Left-wing Privilege’ on campus 

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.