Some students at Goldsmiths, University of London have created a petition demanding the resignation and arrest of Bahar Mustafa, the campus’s diversity officer, because, well, she said a lot of hateful, racist things.
And she should be mocked for them—relentlessly. She should not, however, face charges.
Her statements include some pretty troubling stuff. Mustafa unapologetically defended her use of the hashtag “kill all white men,” according to The Independent:
“It's a way of reclaiming the power from the trauma many of us experience as queers, women, people of colour, who are on the receiving end of racism, misogyny and homophobia daily," she added.
She recently instructed men and white people to steer clear of a diversity event she helped organize:
"Also, if you've been invited and you're a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos I invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only."
Amidst charges that she is racist and sexist toward white men, Mustafa explained in a recorded message that this was literally impossible:
I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.
She also made a bunch of ridiculous claims about the need for “liberation movements” on college campuses and flatly denied that her job was to represent all students, since “all people… by virtue of their gender, race, and class, have opposing interests.”
To deny the legitimacy of any of this nonsense “is to commit an act of violence,” she said. “Resistance to our resistance is futile.”
The petition asserts that her speech is hateful, and it’s hard to disagree. Certainly, I can understand students wanting to have a diversity officer who respects people of all genders and ethnicities. But the calls to have her criminally charged under British hate crime laws are grossly irresponsible. Members of a university community should feel free to express controversial ideas without fretting over whether they will be arrested for doing so.
Mustafa’s situation calls to mind the recent controversies over Boston University Professor Saida Grundy, whose insensitive statements about white people prompted calls for her to be fired, and Duke University Professor Jerry Hough, whose insensitive statements about black people resulted in the same.
I would respond to all these incidents in the same way: Criticize the people, challenge their views, but don’t take away their right to articulate them.
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