The Volokh Conspiracy

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Follow-up to "Is excluding a student activist from a university job based on his political activity a crime in Minnesota?"


I blogged about the story last week, and got a response from Damien Carriere, a leading advocate of excluding the student activist (Ilan Sinelnikov). (Carriere was the person who wrote in an e-mail that urged exclusion of Sinelnikov, I do not disqualify him in view of his person, beliefs, origins or anything but from the sole point of view of his political behaviours.") I thought I'd post the response, albeit somewhat belatedly, with Mr. Carriere's permission:

Dear sir,

I read with great interest your article, and I admire its logic. I feel however that I should be allowed to answer to some of its parts.

I feel I should also be allowed to respond to some of the direct accusations led against me.

1- I never compared SSI with the KKK. I do have problems with how SSI represents itself and behaves. They have repeatedly engaged in character assassination and intimidations, and painted on the bridge of the university (in a spot provided for that by the U itself) a map of Israel… that includes all the disputed lands. That is it.

We did talk about the KKK in these meetings, but as straw-man to explore the following point (which perhaps you can shed light on?).

Should the student representatives tasked with selecting the members of the SSFC panel judge whether someone is able or not to serve based strictly on the merit of their application , and therefore without questioning the content of their own work (hence giving the job to a member of the KKK), OR should they select members who then will be able to judge impartially the funding requests presented to them. And then personality, ethics and past actions are relevant. I held the second, while the other representative of GAPSA held the first. This is what motivated the debate that triggered all those e-mails. In all earnest, the question still has not been answered! I would be glad to hear your view on that.

2—I am not and have never been a part of the BDS movement. Being well known in a movement to which I do not belong is a new concept to me.

3- the total amount of e-mails exchanged must have been a dozen, as I do not have that much free time, really.

4- At first, I did not ask for him to be removed AT ALL. I asked that he be placed in the administrative unit of the SSFC (which I was occupying last year), position I was occupying last year, where his past behaviors would have caused no harm.

My rationale at that moment was that I was afraid that some groups that he has been campaigning against would use his presence to question the fairness of the SSFC. This request was denied without much explanations.

I felt I should step up and ask for his complete removal after he insulted me on account of my nationality while presenting himself as a victim.

5- I did not campaign against him, but expressed my opinion, as I was supposed to do.

6- I did make mention of his English. Being a foreigner myself, when I apply for a job in the US, I spell-check myself. And I ask a native speaker to do it after me. It is a matter of respect for the employer.

It is a proof we take the application process seriously.

However, all this is beside the point as this is NOT what was reproached to Ilan.

Ilan has engaged in ad nominem against students and professors of this university. Calling four of them a "disgrace". He publishes racists posts and comments against minorities. I did consider it my duty to raise those points, since the core of the job is fairness in judgment.

It is for this reasons that he failed to convince GAPSA that he would be a fair judge.

I thought I should lay those elements into your hands.

I am quite eager to know if they change your perspective or not.

This doesn't change my views, which are that disqualifying someone from this position based on his political activity (or, in Carriere's words, "his political behaviours") may well violate the First Amendment and the Minnesota statute. As I noted in my post, Carriere's simply urging that Sinelnikov be disqualified was itself constitutionally protected speech, but an actual student government or university action excluding Sinelnikov from the speech might be illegal. But in any event, I thought Carriere's response was worth passing along.