Poster-Graduate Studies at UCLA
Pushing back against Jerry Kang’s campaign of enmity, duplicity and exclusion.
Editor’s Note: The Frontpage four-part series on UCLA drew widespread attention from embattled students, professors and alumni alike. With new information available, Frontpage thought it worthwhile to review the record and draw some lessons for the American public at large. [Start at Part I: HERE].
Diversity dictator targets “outside provocateur” David Horowitz
Fifty years ago at UCLA, the black nationalist US organization battled it out with the Black Panther Party for control of the black studies program. In those days, New Left leader David Horowitz made common cause with the Panthers. He raised money for their school in Oakland and recommended his friend Betty Van Patter as a bookkeeper. The Panthers murdered Van Patter, and Horowitz began his departure from the Left.
Campus protests continued in the following decades, but no group showed up at UCLA to promote the destruction of Uruguay, Japan or Kuwait. No group called Students for Justice in England called for the destruction of that nation, and any group like that might expect to face opposition from UCLA officials, particularly if the nation was a democratic U.S. ally.
In recent times, Students for Justice in Palestine, an anti-Israel hate group, promoted the destruction of the only Jewish state, a democratic U.S. ally and the only nation in the Middle East to protect women’s rights and gay rights. The Discover the Networks profile notes SJP support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. And some SJP chapters hold annual commemorations for the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. UCLA bosses had no problem with SJP and went out of their way to recognize radical Muslims.
In March of 2012, the UCLA feted Khaled Abou El Fadl, an apologist for radical Islam and defender of Sharia (Islamic) law. Fadl was hailed as a hero in the “struggle against Islamophobia in America.” On the other hand, UCLA seemed to have a problem with Jewish students seeking office.
In 2015, sophomore Rachel Beyda applied to become a judicial board member of UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Associate Council. Questions to Beyda included this, from the USAC’s (Undergraduate Students Association Council) Fabienne Roth: “given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” The council voted against admitting Beyda and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block called it a “teaching moment.”
By 2015, former leftist David Horowitz had become a conservative leader with a record of successful activism against the axis of anti-American leftist radicals and Islamic hate groups. True to form, Horowitz became the first to challenge to SJP on college campuses.
He tapped students to place posters on the UCLA campus reading “Students for Justice in Palestine” and “#Jew Haters.” And Horowitz called on UCLA to remove campus privileges and funding of SJP because they are a hate group and as such violated UCLA’s “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.” Campus radicals ripped down the posters with no protest from UCLA officials, especially Jerry Kang UCLA’s newly minted Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, with a salary of nearly half a million dollars and a budget of $4 million.
Kang, who earned physics and law degrees at Harvard, describes himself as a leading scholar on “implicit bias,” a longtime supporter of “racial equity,” and a “person of color” with “skin in the game.” Kang was uncritical of Students for Justice in Palestine but eager to fire off a letter to the entire UCLA community attacking “hostile posters” he said accused the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine of being “murderers and terrorists.”
These were posted by “an outside provocateur named David Horowitz” who in a poster titled “Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus” listed supporters of the Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement among students and faculty. According to the UCLA’s Vice Chancellor, this amounted to “thuggish intimidation,” and “demagoguery” that “isn’t our style.” Horowitz had not mentioned the Muslim Students Association, and he called nobody murderers or terrorists, so Kang was guilty of two lies. And as he noted, “BDS has been denounced by figures as liberal as Alan Dershowitz and Larry Summers as anti-Semitic.”
In a November 25, 2015 letter to UCLA’s “Crosscheck,” Kang repeated the falsehood that posters had mentioned the MSA, and charged that “members of our Bruin family felt threatened, politically chilled, disrupted from their daily practices.” For Kang it was also “personal” and the Vice Chancellor claimed to be “particularly sensitive to political opportunists scapegoating an unpopular outgroup under the cloak of national security.” His example was the Japanese internment, a strange example for an American of Korean background.
Kang quoted Sam Cooke to imply that his critics “don’t know much about history,” and responded to a tweet that “you should have said no, bruh,” when he took the job. “I believe in rejecting caricature, simplification, threats,” Kang wrote, “Bruh, that’s why I took this job.”
The Ivy League elitist with his $440,000 salary thought he was just another brother on the block. His vaunted implicit bias theory is leftist quackery charging people of no color with racism.
By declaiming against “outside provocateurs” Kang sounded like some redneck Mississippi sheriff warding off the freedom riders. Kang’s professed concern for “members of the Bruin family” for their discomfort over a poster stands in stark contrast to the campaign against a UCLA professor whose Bruin family connections were stronger than most.
UCLA targets a champion of free speech
Keith Fink won three national debating championships as a UCLA student and returned to his alma mater as a professor. For nine years Fink taught “Communication Studies 167: Sex, Politics, and Race: Free Speech on Campus,” which teaches “how the First Amendment, case law, state statutes, and federal statutes affect students’ and teachers’ ability to express themselves both on and off campuses.” The course was popular with students in many disciplines, especially law and medicine.
“The way he speaks, the way he teaches, the way he debates, everything,” pre-med student Shahab Naimi told Ha’Am, UCLA’s Jewish magazine. “He’s one of the best teachers at UCLA.”
Student interest remained strong after the poster incident, and Fink made Kang’s heavy-handed response part of the course.
“Kang was the villain here when all is laid bare,” Fink told Frontpage. “His actions toward David in this issue in support of SJP not only ignored the facts but contravened the First Amendment, distorted case law, threatened students with draconian ramifications should they be involved in speech protest activities he thought was harassing.”
Fink’s classes had once numbered nearly 300 but new communications department chair Kerri Johnson capped the class at 200. When the number of enrolled students dropped to 196, Fink encouraged Shahab Naimi and Negeen Arasteh to take the spots but Johnson refused to allow it.
Teaching assistant Andrew Litt charged that by not enrolling Arasteh and Naimi, “Johnson is vindictively enforcing an unwritten rule to use students as a means of passive-aggressively targeting Fink.” Ha’Am reached out to Johnson, but “she said she could not legally or ethically comment about any specific academic personnel matter.” Johnson also refused to recuse herself from Keith Fink’s performance review.
Professor Fink found her not only biased against him but unqualified to assess his class performance. The same was true of non-attorney Greg Bryant, department vice chair and co-author of “Fathers’ infant‐directed speech in a small‐scale society.” As Bryant told the Chronicle of Higher Education, it was all done “by the book.” The faculty committee deadlocked 3-3, so the tiebreaker would go to Social Sciences dean Laura Gomez, co-director of UCLA’s Critical Race Studies program.
“Good grief keep Keith,” and “Free speech is under attack,” read the posters of protesting UCLA students. A curious UCLA alum asked why more students didn’t join in, and students pointed to five police cars near the demonstration. The UCLA veteran took it as a sign of increasing intimidation on the campus. The protest had no effect on Gomez and after UCLA cut Fink loose, his supporters came under fire.
Department manager Jane Bitar told Fink supporter Justin Gelzhiser he was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint. The department “wanted to get rid of me,” Gelzhiser told the Daily Bruin, because they had just got rid of Fink. “They threatened me,” Gelzhiser said. “If you don’t leave the department, this could destroy your career.”
In similar style, Fink told Frontpage, UCLA even brought accusations against his former debate coach, Thomas Miller, for discriminating against students. “He didn’t do anything,” said Fink.
Not a single UCLA faculty member or administrator stood up for Keith Fink, who got no help from University of California president Janet Napolitano. And nobody involved in Fink’s dismissal suffered any penalty. Jane Bitar opted to retire and UCLA sweetened the deal with the Chancellor’s Excellence in Service Award and $4,000, presented by Jerry Kang his own self.
Any observer could be forgiven for believing that, as Fink told The College Fix in 2017, UCLA now deploys “more exclusion for people who have conservative views or perhaps Jewish views.”
In practice, Kang’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion means Enmity, Duplicity and Exclusion. He comforts those who support Jew hate, and attacks those who criticize the haters, even with a simple poster. The Vice Chancellor may be the most powerful man on campus, but he can’t avoid the pushback.
“There isn’t a diversity bully that I would cower from,” Fink told Frontpage. “Any student or teacher whose rights are trampled on by Kang and his army can come to me for legal help.” Students should exercise their free-speech rights, Fink says, and teachers and staff should follow the example of Justin Gelzhiser.
He now works as a research scientist in Nanjing and Cambridge. So despite threats, the Kang regime did not destroy his career, and Gelzhiser filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. That federal agency controls a lot of money and is now under the control of President Trump. Embattled campus conservatives should consider going that route. Fink also says the people of California have to get involved, and the law is on their side.
The 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, forbids racial and ethnic preferences in state education but like other public campuses UCLA bulked up on diversity bureaucrats. There is no justification for any Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and his huge salary.
Californians need to make that case with the UC Regents, and since UCLA has become unaccountable, Fink says, “donors have to stop giving money,” and they are stopping. A UCLA alum tells Frontpage that a major donor is “not giving one more dime to that indoctrination lab of a university.” But there’s more to it.
“If this happened to me it could happen to anybody,” Fink told Frontpage. “This is basic freedom, not a partisan issue. It’s worth fighting for.” And the fight continues.
At the time of the poster campaign, Palestine Legal staff attorney Liz Jackson applauded Kang for “condemning this attack and defending SJP and the Muslim Students Association.” SJP parroted Kang’s lies and continued to target David Horowitz.
Last year, Palestine Legal senior attorney Radhika Sainath blasted the Los Angeles Review of Books for a letter to the editor citing “far right” Horowitz, who “engages in Islamophobic campaigns.” As Sainath contended, “Students with SJP care deeply about human rights, and often connect the struggle for freedom in Palestine with other social movements, including the liberation of black, brown, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and Native American communities here.”
Editor's note: Below are several of the posters used by protesting UCLA students on behalf of Keith Fink and free speech on campus: