It is hard to find a better recent case of political correctness gone insane than what happened at the University of California at Santa Cruz in early March.
StandWithUs, the Los Angeles-based non-profit Israel advocacy group which I run, joined other pro-Israel organizations in sponsoring a UCSC lecture on March 10 by Itamar Marcus [pictured]. He is director of Palestinian Media Watch, the respected Jerusalem research group whose findings on Palestinian Authority media have been presented to congressional committees.
Capitol Hill has proven more welcoming to Marcus than hilly UC Santa Cruz. Prior to the March 10 speaking event, UCSC students distributed posters and flyers on campus to publicize the free event and invite the entire campus community to attend.
They hung up posters and flyers on Monday night, March 7. By 10:00 AM on Tuesday, March 8, the posters had been removed or defaced – with Nazi swastikas and anti-Israel slogans.
A UCSC student who helped in organizing the Marcus event on campus saw a woman removing one of the flyers. The student told me that the woman was UCSC Professor Nancy Stoller, listed in the campus directory as a community studies professor and a steering committee member of the UCSC Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community. The student said Stoller admitted to that she removed at least two flyers (the student eyewitness also said she saw other flyers with torn edges in Stoller’s hands). The student said Stoller told her she found the flyer offensive but that she had, “left enough around.”
This incident is now being handled by UCSC’s Douglas Zuidema, Director of Student Judicial Affairs. Despite flyers being removed, about 75 people showed up to learn what is being shown on officially controlled Palestinian television. Why would anyone dedicated to “tolerance” try to silence diverse voices, encourage intolerance and obstruct an educational event?
Itamar Marcus is an expert on Palestinian media who has been monitoring Palestinian Authority TV for six years, exposing its hate training and indoctrination. He wants to encourage people to pressure Palestinian leaders to educate Palestinians towards peaceful co-existence with Israelis instead of towards terrorism, hate and violence.
Trying to make life difficult for any pro-Israel speaker has happened before at UCSC. In October 2004, school officials sponsored anti-Israel speaker Hedy Epstein, a member of the West Bank-based Palestinian-allied activist group called the International Solidarity Movement. However, UCSC’s women’s studies department declined to co-sponsor Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born journalist who speaks out against terrorism and the anti-Semitic hate training she received as a child.
Those faculty members who would like to ignore Itamar Marcus and Noni Darwish do not want to make students uncomfortable or upset by seeing Palestinian children state on TV that their cherished goal in life is to strive towards Shahada (martyrdome). Nor do they want to allow students to see how Palestinian clerics on TV call for genocide of Jews.
In contrast, two classrooms of open-minded seniors at Pomona Catholic Girls High School near Los Angeles listened attentively to Marcus on March 8, as he spoke to them at almost the same time of the morning that the flyers up north in Santa Cruz were being torn down.
Marcus also spoke, without any problems, to audiences in March at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and California State University, Fullerton, and to East Coast campuses during the following week. But a professor felt that promoting the Marcus lecture at UC Santa Cruz was so wrong that she apparently felt the need to tear down lecture flyers.
What does it say about American universities when high school seniors appear more open-minded respectful than college professors?
Despite flyers being torn down, 75 people came to the UCSC lecture. Bravo to the students and professors who are resisting obstructionism and risking their positions and their feelings of well-being in order to speak up. Perhaps one day they will succeed in restoring a diversity of ideas on campus. Until then, those who control the ideological echo chambers will remain fearful of voices other than their own and will continue their shameful betrayal of the very values they promote.
Roz Rothstein is Executive Director of StandWithUS.