Thursday, October 25, 2007

SAFE Issues in Michigan Daily

Michigan Daily runs two good letters to the editor on SAFE issue.

White supremacist has no place at MSU

To the Daily:

Nick Griffin, head of the British National Party, will speak today at Michigan State University, upon invitation from the Young Americans for Freedom. The BNP is a white supremacist party known to be racist against all non-white communities in Britain and to have a homophobic and anti Semitic history. In line with its xenophobia, the BNP has become explicitly anti-Muslim in recent years.

The BNP plays into the fears of white British people, pushing for an end to immigration, incentives for immigrants "to return home," denial of housing to immigrant families and denial of refuge to asylum seekers, among other racist agendas. The BNP is a succession of the National Front, which was infamous for inciting riots and hatred in the 1970s and '80s in Great Britain.

As a Muslim woman from Britain who recently spent nine months living and studying in East London (an area that the BNP and National Front have explicitly targeted because of its large Bangladeshi population), I am astonished that the head of the BNP, a leading British hate figure, will be speaking at MSU.

Griffin has a deplorable history of inciting hatred against immigrants in Great Britain. He envisions the country as a racially pure, white country. As history has shown, this is a very dangerous belief.
The British government convicted him in 1998 of inciting racial hatred. He is a well-known Holocaust-denier and a homophobe. He claims to have cleaned up his act, but his words are now just more misleading. The underlying message is the same: Britain is for white Christians. What can he possibly teach MSU students?

Hena Ashraf
LSA senior


Why such a focus on silencing certain speakers?

To the Daily:

Thank you for running an important viewpoint about the University Press's decision to temporarily halt distribution of Joel Kovel's book (Undermining the academic debate, 10/24/2007). People do not understand how far aggressive opponents of academic freedom go to silence any criticism of Israel. Any discussion of the most important foreign policy questions requires real debate.

In the past year alone, people who refuse to tolerate dissenting views have protested in order to silence reputable scholars and world figures, including Prof. John Mearsheimer of Harvard, Prof. Stephen Walt of the University of Chicago, New York University Prof. Tony Judt and even South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu.

They have also attacked Middle East experts and pressured universities to deny them tenure or even to fire them. Enemies of academic freedom successfully pressured DePaul University to deny Norman Finkelstein tenure. They are waging a similar war on Nadia Abu El Haj at Barnard College. Now they want the University of Michigan Press to stop carrying controversial books as well.

With all this pressure to silence critics, one must ask what exactly they are trying to hide.

Ryah Aqel
LSA sophomore

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