Troublemaking Dissenters at Palestinian Solidarity Week

It's interesting that Javed introduces Islam into this story when the literature in question doesn't mention it. While the flier described by the Diamondback apparently depicts two Palestinian Muslims, it does not logically follow that the flier is a commentary on Islam in general. Furthermore, if  Javed makes a distinction between politics and Islam, the de facto government of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza certainly does not. "Hamas" is an Arabic acronym standing for the "Islamic Resistance." The first article of the Hamas charter states: "The movement's program is Islam. From it, it draws its ideas, ways of thinking and understanding of the universe, life and man. It resorts to it for judgment in all its conduct, and it is inspired by it for guidance of its steps." It is a basic point of fact that the elected leadership of the Palestinians in Gaza considers religion and politics synonymous, hence an event proclaiming solidarity with the Palestinians implies at least tacit approval of the fusion of Islam and politics and the violent methods used to promulgate the resultant ideology. This apparent endorsement is confirmed by the presence of speakers such as  Saalakhan, who has been an open apologist for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

An event titled "What Would MLK Say About Gaza?" highlights the depraved and hypocritical atmosphere of Palestinian Solidarity Week. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life was a testament to non-violence in an era when other black leaders such as Malcolm X openly embraced militancy. Indeed, if the Palestinians had emulated the peaceful resistance methods of Dr. King over the past four decades they would by now undoubtedly possess the state they supposedly long to establish in the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, they have chosen a path of religious extremism, brazen violence against civilians, and ultimately self-destruction.

As for Dr. King's views on the conflict, it is unlikely that Dr. King ever spoke or thought much about Gaza. Indeed, for most of his tragically shortened adult life Gaza was an annexed territory of Egypt and the appellation "Palestinian" was not yet commonly used to describe Arab Muslims in the region. But he is on the record about Israel. In a 1968 appearance at Harvard University, he said: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism." Thus it seems doubtful that he would associate himself with the explicit anti-Zionist politics promulgated at Palestinian Solidarity Week if he were alive today.

The police appear to have been the only rational actors in this overblown University of Maryland fiasco, deferring to the Constitution instead of the hurt feelings of pro-Palestinian students whose own actions buttress an ideology that regularly manifests itself in violence against civilians across the world. Furthermore, the university's spineless groveling before the offended students was an affront to the free speech rights of the rest of the student body and the community at large. Universities are the soft underbelly of the First Amendment; they foster a "politically correct" atmosphere where bureaucratic fiat trumps free political expression.

At the height of the Maryland affair, Clement lamented that "[the posters] made a number of our students feel very uncomfortable." Ms. Clement, our university students should expect to feel uncomfortable when contemplating one of the most controversial political conflicts of our time, and it is certainly not the role of your administration to shield them from their own feelings.

Indeed, there are few subjects worth discussing that do not offend some segment of the population. The role of a university should be to expose students to a variety of perspectives and provide a relatively objective venue for discourse. Instead, our college campuses have become a preserve of reactionary liberal orthodoxy, with facile phrases like "diversity" belying an oppressive ideological conformity. Students should have a right to organize a "Palestinian Solidarity Week," and other students should have a right to freely express their opposition to such an event. The dissenters certainly should not be treated as troublemakers -- criminal provocateurs whose dangerous words and images are worthy of censorship -- for simply exercising their First Amendment rights. After all, we are talking about fliers, not bombs.