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My university selected an antifascist ringleader to oversee its campus speech policy

OPINION: Stanford’s latest attempt to stifle conservatives on campus

Stanford University has chosen a professor who co-founded the Campus Antifascist Network and who is a vocal critic of conservative students and ideas to lead its — wait for it — newly formed committee on “Campus Climate, Community and Speech.”

Professor David Palumbo-Liu is chair of the committee, which aims to “depolarize” campus “as much as possible,” and ensure that discussions around ideas are “less encumbered and fraught,” according to an internal university spreadsheet I accessed and screenshot below.

Despite the committee’s lofty name and goals, the selection of Palumbo-Liu as its leader represents Stanford’s latest attempt to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of its students.

Palumbo-Liu, far from simply earning the nickname of Stanford’s most “radical professor,” is a self-professed supporter of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement.

Moreover, Palumbo-Liu has justified aggressive, illegal actions for political ends. In 2015, he congratulated several of his students for participation in an anti-Israel protest that resulted in several car crashes and blocked San Mateo traffic.

In 2017, Palumbo-Liu worked with Purdue University Professor Bill Mullen to establish the “Campus Antifascist Network,” an on-campus network of the domestic terrorist group Antifa.
According to its description, CAN aims “to build large, unified demonstrations against fascists on campuses when they come.” According to Mullen, CAN’s purpose is “to drive racists off campuses.”

For his part, Palumbo-Liu (pictured) likes to smear conservative ideas and students on campus as “racist” and “fascist.” Removing conservative ideas from Stanford’s public square has always been a long-term goal of Palumbo-Liu.

He is one of the leading architects of a reinvigorated attempt to remove the Hoover Institution, a leading center-right think tank at Stanford. In 2019, Palumbo-Liu read a statement in which he expressed his concern that Hoover’s “predetermined point-of-view” was “antithetical to the spirit of open inquiry that is fundamental to liberal education.”

Now, the university has designated him a committee chair on campus speech. This move from Stanford University is not surprising, as its leaders have continually sought to undermine conservative events.

When the Stanford College Republicans hosted counterterrorism expert Robert Spencer in 2017, Stanford administrators forbid live-streaming of the event and banned the general public from attending. In another instance, while making preparations to host Dinesh D’Souza, Stanford administrators inflated security fees while imposing other restrictions designed to keep us from paying D’Souza. Then, when we hosted conservative commentator Andrew Klavan to lecture on our nation’s Judeo-Christian Heritage, Stanford administrators baselessly smeared him as “Islamophobic.”

In contrast to Stanford’s repeated efforts to undermine conservative events, Stanford has been more than willing to roll out the red carpet for left-wing radicals such as anti-Semite Linda Sarsour and Angela Davis, who once spent time on the FBI most wanted list for her involvement in the murder of six people.

Both of these events were officially sponsored by Stanford. And now that Stanford has decided to relegate its speech policy to an antifa-styled ringleader, we would not be surprised if Palumbo-Liu takes steps to ensure that conservative speakers will never be allowed to come on campus again.

We call for the immediate resignation of David Palumbo-Liu from this committee and for its complete abolition entirely.

If you are a donor to Stanford who cares about free speech, we encourage you to withhold donations from Stanford until it takes these steps. If we don’t unite and stand against the encroachments of antifa over our First Amendment rights, then no one will.

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About the Author
Stephen Sills -- Stanford University