Is it any surprise that this latest bit of identity theater is based at Brown University, one of the most student-authoritarian schools in the U.S.? As reported by both the Daily Beast and The Blaze, Janet Mock, a trans woman, LGBTQ activist and a well known author (she wrote the bestseller Redefining Realness), was scheduled to speak at Brown. But there was a Big Problem: she was scheduled to speak by the group Moral Values, which happens to be a Jewish organization, and she was also to speak at Hillel House, a facility run by a different Jewish organization.
Well, what do you think happened? The Blaze reports on the inevitable conflict:
“Hillel as a corporation has consistently defended and even advocated for the Israeli state’s policies of occupation and racial apartheid,” Brown University students wrote in a petition to Mock urging her to reject the Jewish group’s invitation. “Israel’s violent policies center on colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide of native Palestinians.”
“We do not condone the use of queer people of color as props to hide occupation,” the petition added.
Mock cancelled the event after the students’ protest.
Mock’s representatives told Moral Voices, “We feel the focus of Janet’s work was lost leading up to the proposed event, and her visit was received with controversy and resistance rather than open dialogue and discussion about the issues closest to Janet’s work in movements for trans liberation, racial justice and intersectional feminism.”
The sad thing is that Moral Voices has no group position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Mock’s visit was co-sponsored by other groups, including the Brown Center for Students of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, LGBTQ Center, Sexual Assault Peer Educators, Office of the Chaplains, and the Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Intercultural Student Engagement. But the talk’s highly indirect association with Hillel House, a building, and a more direct association with (horror!) Jewish students, was enough to make the Brown students protest vehemently. Better to not hear a pro-LGBTQ activist at all than hear one partly sponsored by Jewish students—ones that have no official position on Palestine.
Finally, let us remember that Israel, whatever its faults, is the only state in the Middle East where being gay is not a crime, often a crime punishable by death. And yet even saying that is equated by the double-standard crowd as “pinkwashing”: trying to promote Israel’s image by noting its gay-friendliness. But gay equality was not promulgated in Israel to deceive the world; it was passed as a human right. It’s the height of LGBTQ hypocrisy to call for the no-platforming of Mock in solidarity with groups that would kill these very activists should they be openly gay in Palestine.
This is pathetic. The students don’t get to hear a respected trans activist because of a tenuous association of her talk with Jews, and by implication—an unsupported one—with Israeli’s policy toward Palestine. As Moral Voices posted on its Facebook page:
“This cancellation is the result of gross mischaracterizations of Brown RISD Hillel and the intentions of the student activists on the Moral Voices Committee who worked since last spring to bring Ms. Mock to Brown. Both the Moral Voices Committee and Brown RISD Hillel community are comprised of people whose intersectional identities make Ms. Mock’s message personal,” the group added. “We were eager to hear from and raise up the voice of Ms. Mock in partnership with other campus groups and centers. Today is a very sad day for the entire Brown community and for LGBTQ+ activism — there are no victors.”
Indeed. Who won this round? The group of 159 mushbrained students who signed the petition that drove Mock away.
I’ll give the last word to The Daily Beast:
Way to go, student activists at Brown! You succeeded in creating a hostile environment that led to a trans woman of color being discouraged from sharing her voice and opinions. This all helped the Palestinian people how, exactly?
Brown President Christina Paxson expressed disappointment. “I respect her decision to avoid having her talk be overshadowed by an issue unrelated to her work. However, I am disappointed that a valuable learning opportunity was lost,” she said in a Sunday email to the student body.
At least the University President didn’t pander to the Offended.
Authoritarian and regressive leftists are welcome to try to “debunk” this report, which I’ve checked in several places. I think that the regressive group is finally starting to see the dilemma it’s got itself into, but instead of some thoughtful introspection, they simply respond with more rage.
Fortunately, some Brown students have apologized for the behavior of their peers.