UC Davis prides itself on following the Principles of Community. The principles promote freedom of expression and denounce any kind of discrimination based on race, religion or political preference. Unfortunately, Norman Finkelstein, the speaker for whom the Student Programs and Activity Center and ASUCD approved a grant requested by the Muslim Student Association, has a long history of religious discrimination.
Finkelstein uses his position as a professor to thinly disguise his anti-Semitic hate speech as "academia." He has publicly supported Hezbollah, a recognized sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, and was invited to the Tehran Holocaust Deniers Conference. He did not attend because he felt the conference was not going to be taken seriously, not because it was a love-fest for people who deny that 6 million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust.
Finkelstein's hate speech is protected under the First Amendment. He has every right to come to college campuses and talk about how the so-called "Jewish elites, acting in concert with the U.S. government, exploit the horrific suffering of the millions of Jews exterminated during World War II and the few who managed to survive for power and profit." Finkelstein also has the right to say that America "deserve[s] the problem on our hands because some things bin Laden says are true." The problem is the students of UC Davis are paying for his hate speech with their student fees.
SPAC granted the MSA money to bring Finkelstein to campus. The grant comes from the ASUCD budget funded from student fees and other taxpayer sources. In order to receive the grant, the MSA had to demonstrate that Finkelstein follows the Principles of Community. Is publicly supporting Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, following the Principles of Community? Or is being praised by known Holocaust denier David Irving one of the criteria SPAC used in their decision? I support Finkelstein's right to freedom of speech. What I don't support is my parents' hard-earned money paying for someone to spout anti-Semitic hate speech and call it "academia."
Last week, ASUCD denounced the Davis College Republicans for playing "Illegal Immigration Capture the Flag" and tried to embarrass its own academic affairs commissioner. The game and those who played it were called racist and insensitive. ASUCD claimed that DCR was specifically targeting a group of people and making fun of a situation in which people die every year. It's ironic that the same senate allowed money to be granted for the kind of hate speech they just denounced last week, targeting the Jewish community and denying millions of Jewish deaths.
ASUCD cannot continue to fund events targeting minority groups on campus while condemning an event that received absolutely no funding or help from SPAC or the student government. The university should be ashamed of the double standards it continues to follow in its handling of student fees and student interests, and should one of these days consider applying the Principles of Community evenly to all.