Campus Free Speech

George Washington University Backpedals After Agreeing To Investigate Critics of China

"Upon full understanding, I do not view these posters as racist; they are political statements," said university president Mark Wrighton.

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One of the most troubling aspects of the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on free speech is that it doesn't just affect China—it impacts us here in the U.S. as well. That's because many American organizations and people—businesses, athletes, etc.—choose to engage in self-censorship in order to appease the Chinese government. A powerful example was provided by Activision Blizzard, the online gaming company, which punished a professional Hearthstone player for uttering a pro–Hong Kong slogan while being interviewed on a livestream.

A similar thing seemed poised to occur at George Washington University. Art posters recently appeared all over campus that criticized the Chinese government, with reference to the Winter Olympics in Beijing being underway.

The artist, Badiucao, is a Chinese-Australian dissident journalist whose work protests the Chinese government.

The posters drew criticism from G.W.'s Chinese Cultural Association, which put out the following statement:

As scholars in higher education institutions, we expect the university community to have basic scientific awareness and preserve cultural diversity. This series of posters incites not only intra-ethnic hatred in China but also inter-ethnic hostility and inter-cultural contempt. We believe that George Washington University supports equality and inclusion, and that students at George Washington University are friendly and united. Posters with such hateful messages are not only uncomfortable and provoke ethnic relations within the Chinese student body, but they also provoke friendships between Chinese international students and their peers from around the world. These posters fuel the prejudice and conspiracy theories against China that the world has had since the epidemic, adding fuel to the plight of Chinese students.

The association demanded that G.W. investigate the matter through the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement. Perhaps it says something about offices for diversity in general that they are often the first resort of would-be tyrants.

Badiucao fired back, accusing G.W. of launching a "witch-hunt" against student activists.

The university's president, Mark Wrighton, initially responded in precisely the wrong way, saying in a statement that he was personally offended by the posters and would "undertake an effort to determine who is responsible." After receiving plenty of criticism for this statement, and thinking the matter over a bit harder, he reversed and confessed he had responded too hastily. "Upon full understanding, I do not view these posters as racist; they are political statements," he said. "There is no university investigation underway, and the university will not take any action."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is glad that the university backed off, but is nevertheless troubled that Wrighton's initial impulse was to launch an investigation into potentially offensive speech.

"It should have been immediately obvious to G.W.'s administration why attempting to unmask and punish anonymous student critics of China is a terrible idea and, frankly, it's troubling that they needed to be reminded of this fact," said FIRE in a statement. "If the students who posted this artwork were from China or Hong Kong, they and their families could have been placed in real peril if their involvement were investigated—a fate that has awaited other international students who have been uncovered as critics of China at U.S. campuses. Universities nationwide should remember this point."

Indeed they should. No American institution should aid Chinese censors in obscuring the truth about the government's human rights abuses or aid them in hunting down dissidents.

NEXT: California Citizens Get State’s Blessing To Start Unmasking Soon

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  1. The NBA won’t allow criticism of China but you can take a knee to protest the US.

    1. The speaks volumes, mostly about the power of money vs virtue.

      1. It also speaks to what an ignorant group most woke sports reporters are. I assume Lebron knows he’s full of shit, as he becomes a billionaire. Most sports reporters that treat him like a fucking intellectual aren’t getting a cut (outside those working for certain corporations), they’re just the useful idiots.

    2. If George Washington was alive he'd literally want that university burned down. And he'd probably want to be the one to set the fire.

  2. No discussion of the president's snap reflexive judgement? His immediate bowing to a clearly political objection? No calls for his immediate resignation?
    How can someone both this malleable, and this subject to populist pressure, be allowed to continue in a "leadership" position?

    1. His immediate bowing to a clearly political objection?

      Did you just accuse him of kowtowing? RAAAAACISSSSST!!!

      1. Yeah. Deal with it.

  3. where is Peng Shuai?

    1. Didn't you see her interview with that French broad at the Olympics that required pre approved questions and a CCP member standing over her shoulder "translating" for her?

      Just like the uiyger (sp it's early n I'm wake n baking) torch lighter, China knows no one, especially president poops his pants, will hold them accountable so they can throw it in our faces and mock us with it.

      1. I forgot to add, in the interview she said the sexual assault allegations never happened and she was wrong to make up stories on Twitter.

  4. heh -- talk of the devil. Just mentioned this kind of shit after a different story.

    Makes me wonder how narrow minded and xenophobic American university staff really are that they view shit like "diversity and inclusion" through such a narrow lens that they can see neither how propagandist it is nor how the whole rest of the world sees such things.

  5. The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement is full of commies? Quick someone catch me before I faint in surprise.

  6. No American institution should aid Chinese censors in obscuring the truth about the government's human rights abuses or aid them in hunting down dissidents.

    Of course they shouldn't! The social media giants don't need the competition.

    Honestly, though, Robbie, I don't understand all the fuss. George Washington University is a private university. If they want to help the CCP impose global speech control, I don't see where anyone else has anything to say about it.

    1. The USG could stop issuing government student loans to students attending that private institution.

  7. One of the most troubling aspects of the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on free speech is that it doesn't just affect China—it impacts us here in the U.S. as well.

    The best thing that happened to Robby was getting a job at The Hill. Good on you for that opener, Robby.

  8. This, in various forms, has been going on since at least 2014. Good of Reason to finally get around to covering it.

  9. Georgetown and George Washington U are a stone's throw from each other and are in a battle to be the most craven, cowardly wokesters on the damn planet.

    1. George Mason is the "good one" of this triumvirate.

  10. These posters fuel the prejudice and conspiracy theories against China that the world has had since the epidemic, adding fuel to the plight of Chinese students.

    Leftists are in a bind here. They promoted the belief that criticizing China is racist because it was useful against Trump supporters. But now their theory is used against others, non-Trumpers. The left can't fully disavow the theory because it's so core to their ongoing efforts to demonize those they hate, so they have to pretend this circumstance is sufficiently different to justify their change in treatment. Obviously non0leftists aren't fooled so this hurts their credibility.

    We can recognize how outrageous the GW reaction is by noting the extreme characterizations of "serious racist views" and also "extremely vicious personal attacks". Then note there is literally nothing supporting these accusations. Nothing at all, he just made it up. This is just what left wingers say characterizing everything they dislike (i.e, non-progressive thought) .

    They have trained themselves to be incapable of exercising sound judgment and reason. They act as if reality doesn't exist except in how they describe it. So they can say whatever is politically useful and that becomes reality.

  11. As a GWU graduate, it saddens me to say that the university has become a cancel culture supporter. I have stopped my contributions because they have insulted me personally with many of their public statements. I am sure I am not alone. I can hope this embarrassment may teach some of the students and staff a lesson in critical thinking and rational action. Free GWU!

  12. I thought this was an especially nice (and by "nice", I mean "mendacious and sleazy"):
    "These posters fuel the prejudice and conspiracy theories against China that the world has had since the epidemic, "

    SINCE THE EPICEMIC?? WTF? How long has China been grinding down the Tibetans? 60 years? 70? How long have the people of Hong Kong lived in fear of the day China just pissed on the agreement with Britain and crushed them? Surely before 2020!

    Fuck those awful people in the CCP. One could wish their students here would leave our universities as fragile and delusional as our own, but I doubt it.

  13. Censorship is the rage right now with Government, schools and tech companies leading the way. We The People need to show some rage in return.

  14. "Upon full understanding, after the university's legal team told me to change my stance or lose the inevitable lawsuit, I do not view these posters as racist; they are political statements," said university president Mark Wrighton.

    FIFY

  15. Apparently, the idea is that discrimination against the CCP is racial discrimination against the Chinese. Nonsense.

    Chinese students and travelers who don’t go on record condemning the current nation of China, the CCP, and the Chinese government should be deported immediately.

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