Friday, March 9, 2012

Farrakhan at UC Berkeley-What Mark Yudof Must Do

Gary Fouse

Hat tip Daily Californian

The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley's campus paper, is running an op-ed by Rabbi Adam Neftalin-Kellman, executive director of Berkeley Hillel on tomorrow's speaking appearance at UC Berkeley by Louis Farrakhan.

In addition, here is another op-ed by Daily Californian staff writer Jason Willick.

Another report by CBS San Francisco:

Let me say this: A petition to bar a speaker is a dangerous thing. Today it is Farrakhan; tomorrow it is Rush Limbaugh; then it is who knows who. (No, I am not comparing Limbaugh to Farrakhan in any way.)  I think this should be handled as I have advocated for the notorious UC Irvine events held by the Muslim Student Union every May. When a hateful speaker comes, he or she has the First Amendment right to speak and speak without being disrupted. If they make an inflammatory statement that leads directly to someone being assaulted then they can be held liable. Other than that, there isn't much we can do. Yet, others have the right to be present and peacefully protest. They can hold signs. They can pass out leaflets. Most importantly, they can participate in the question and answer session. If time does not allow, they can ask for the speaker to stick around for some questions and dialogue. If they desire, their question can be a statement though a long diatribe of a speech will be cut off by the moderator.

This is what I would encourage the opponents of Farrakhan to do.

And there is no person at UC Berkeley more appropriate to do that than UC President Mark Yudof, who just yesterday, issued a UC-wide statement condemning racist and anti-Semitic expressions on his campuses. Yudof, who is himself Jewish and whose office is in the Bay area, should be at that event. He should monitor what Farrakhan says and after that, he should stand up and tell Farrakhan in no uncertain terms what he thinks of him. He should also tell the Black Student Union that they should be ashamed of themselves for inviting such an odious character to speak and that they have lost any credibility should they ever want to complain about racism.

No excuses, Mr Yudof. If you are out of town, get back right away. If you have other commitments, cancel them. This is the most important task you have had to date in your tenure. You have taken a lot of heat for the way you have handled -or not handled these problems. You have an extraordinary opportunity tomorrow to start setting the UC ship right and be taken seriously.

Don't blow it.

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