The anti-Semitic face of political correctness

Nicholas G. Hahn III
The Detroit News

Pope Francis frequently preaches about a “culture of inclusion,” and even said that exclusion of others is at the “root of all wars.” So it might come as a surprise to see the largest Catholic university in the country waging a war on campus conservatives.

Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group sponsored by Young America’s Foundation at DePaul University in Chicago, recently attempted to host conservative author and Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro on campus. But when the students tried to reserve a lecture hall for the event, administrators stonewalled.

“Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allowing him to speak on our campus at this time,” Bob Janis, the university’s vice president for facility operations, wrote. “DePaul may make various time, place, and manner requirements as we exercise our responsibility for the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

Janis’s security concerns stem from a February event at California State University where protestors blocked the door to Shapiro’s lecture hall and pulled a fire alarm during the speech. DePaul’s administrators are also scarred from a May event where security officials did nothing as students stormed the stage and cut short an event with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos.

The heckler’s veto seems to be ever victorious at supposed institutions of higher learning, but DePaul’s decision to prevent its students from hearing Shapiro might be more than just a violation of the university’s own speech policies.

DePaul administrators likely want to forget a disturbing thread of anti-Semitism running through several of the university’s campus controversies.

In 2004, DePaul effectively fired a veteran adjunct professor, the late Thomas Klocek, for debating Muslim students about Israel and Palestine. The students complained to the professor’s dean that they were “hurt” by what Klocek had to say. DePaul sided with the students, and was sued.

The infamous Israel critic Norman Finkelstein’s bid for tenure was denied in 2007. His student supporters staged various sit-ins, and Finkelstein’s faculty allies leaked confidential documents from his tenure proceedings and frequently berated other Jewish and pro-Israel professors.

When, as a DePaul student, I invited former Soviet refusnik and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel Natan Sharansky to campus in 2009, students sought to cancel the lecture and administrators tried to censor Sharansky’s speech. Some administrators invited themselves to a pre-event dinner with Sharansky where they awkwardly prostituted DePaul’s history of accepting Jews during some Depression-era quotas at colleges.

Later that year, a deactivated Qassam rocket, a weapon favored by the military arm of Hamas, was to be displayed on campus. Students for Justice in Palestine decried the exhibition as one that “infringes on the right of the DePaul community, from every faculty and staff member, to all of the students, to feel safe.” DePaul administrators agreed and the rocket stayed in Israel.

Then in 2010, pro-Palestinian students attempted to ban Sabra hummus from campus cafeterias. They failed, but their campaign was more about demonizing Israel than it was about chickpeas. A 2014 campus referendum that asked administrators to divest from companies that do business with Israel still sits in a university committee. Pro-Palestinian students have invoked the school’s namesake, dressing Vincent de Paul in a Yasser Arafat-styled keffiyeh headscarf. Students even hosted a fundraiser on campus in February 2015 for convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Yousef Odeh.

Odeh, who in 2014 was also found guilty of falsifying naturalization forms by a federal jury in Detroit, bombed a Jerusalem market in 1969 and murdered two Hebrew University students. And Shapiro is the security concern?

If DePaul would do something to end the pattern of anti-Semitism on campus, it would be a blessing for Jews and Catholics alike.

Twitter: @NGHahn3