Editors’ note: At the end of the 1960s at UCLA, the Black Panthers and the US organization battled for control of the new Black Studies program. In time, Chicano Studies, Women’s Studies, and Queer Studies also gained official recognition. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the University of California system rejected academically-qualified students and accepted others based on race and ethnicity. In 1996, voters responded with the California Civil Rights Initiative, which banned racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting.
Twenty years later, UCLA’s Vice Chancellor for Equity Diversity and Inclusion is a specialist in “implicit bias” theory but shows a distinct preference for politically correct groups of the Left. Meanwhile, professors of a certain ethnicity and conservative political profile are ostracized for championing free speech. Even their staff and student supporters come under fire.
UCLA never hosted another Panther-US gun battle, but like Berkeley the campus continued to offer a forum for protest. Students decried the Vietnam War, South African apartheid, and US actions against Communist insurgencies in Central America. Protesters ignored the Soviet Communist dictatorship and oppressive Islamic theocracies like Iran drew little attention. In the years before Jerry Kang became diversity boss, the focus of protest would change.
Muslim UCLA students preferred to protest Israel, a U.S. ally and the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East. In that region, Israel was the only nation to protect the rights of women and minorities such as homosexuals. For Muslim militants at UCLA the problem went deeper.
Groups as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) were inspired by Hamas and targeted Israel alone. Even so, on the UCLA campus SJP and BDS enjoyed free reign – and even encouragement – by faculty, and administrators such as Jerry Kang, the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. David Horowitz, now a prominent conservative leader, mounted a response.
Posters reading “Students for Justice in Palestine” and “#Jew Haters” began appearing at UCLA. 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.” On April 19, 2016, Jerry Kang responded with a letter to the entire UCLA community.
“Back in November 2015,” Kang wrote, “someone put up hostile posters accusing two student organizations – the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – of being murderers and terrorists.” These were posted anonymously but “an outside provocateur named David Horowitz eventually took credit.” This harkened back to the days when reactionary administrators blamed “outside agitators” for activism they didn’t like.
“Last Friday, Horowitz struck again,” Kang continued. “But this time, he also listed individual students and faculty by name. This serious escalation amounts to a focused, personalized intimidation that threatens specific members of our Bruin community.”
Kang said his job was “to build equity for all, and to make sure that there is an equal learning and working environment for everyone, regardless of political or religious affiliation. But if your name is plastered around campus, casting you as a murderer or terrorist, how could you stay focused on anything like learning, teaching, or research?” Kang would sound the alarm about “hateful posters pushed into our school and workplaces by outsiders.”
The tactic “may deter scholars elsewhere from staking out unpopular positions. But it won’t work here.” These posters “violated University policy,” and Kang proclaimed, “regardless of our religion, regardless of our politics, we should all agree that thuggish intimidation is beneath us, that demagoguery isn’t our style.” The next day, David Horowitz responded to UCLA’s first Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“The Vice Chancellor’s letter attacked me as a ‘provocateur’ who last year ‘put up hostile posters accusing two student organizations — the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — of being murderers and terrorists.’” Horowitz wrote. “This is a lie. Actually it is two lies.”
The 2015 posters targeted only Students for Justice in Palestine, not the Muslim Students Association. Kang included the MSA, Horowitz wrote, “so that he could condemn me for employing what he called a ‘tactic of guilt by association.’” The posters did not accuse SJP of being murderers and terrorists. Horowitz described them as Jew haters “because they support the murderers and terrorists of Hamas, which they do.”
The recent poster campaign, “Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus,” listed names of UCLA student and faculty activists who support SJP and BDS. Vice Chancellor Kang called it intimidation but as Horowitz explained, “there is no intimidation on the posters, just a list of names” and the posters did not cast those listed as murderers and terrorists, only supporters of the BDS boycott campaign.
As Horowitz noted, “BDS has been denounced by figures as liberal as Alan Dershowitz and Larry Summers as anti-Semitic.” Even so, Kang “sent a personal letter of support to all those named as activists in behalf of these anti-Semitic campaigns.” Kang then went on to “lecture everybody about diversity, tolerance and inclusion.”
Horowitz called for a retraction and apology from the University of California, but he didn’t get it. Horowitz also urged “some serious reflection” by Vice Chancellor Kang, who should “pause from his homogenized and hypocritical outrage and his truckling to campus radical groups,” re-read the First Amendment and “learn to live with opinions he doesn’t like.” Trouble was, UCLA’s first Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion didn’t take the advice.
The UCLA community includes people who take issue with Kang’s “implicit bias” theory, and people who believe in American values such as merit, due process, and free speech. Under the Kang regime, those people found themselves under fire, even if they were high-quality instructors, and popular with the students UCLA was created to serve.