CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—February 2, 2018
By: Corbin Page, [email protected]
Student groups at University of Chicago will gather to protest scheduled appearance of Steve Bannon for second week in a row on Friday, February 2, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Booth School of Business. 5807 South Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago.
Statement from University of Chicago Student Groups
We oppose Professor Luigi Zingales’s invitation to one of the country’s leading white nationalists, Steve Bannon, to speak at the University of Chicago. Bannon co-founded and ran Breitbart News, a website that popularized the white-supremacist “alt-right” and advanced misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant hate.
Most recently, Bannon was campaigning for Senate candidate and child-molester Roy Moore. Bannon was recently forced out of Breitbart News and has not made a public appearance since. The University of Chicago should not lend its institutional reputation and resources to the cause of resurrecting Steve Bannon’s career.
A year-long, rigorous study by the Diversity Advisory Committee found that the University of Chicago is already a hostile environment for people of color. Report of the Diversity Advisory Committee (2017). The University has a less diverse student body than peer institutions, and has struggled to retain underrepresented faculty.
At the time of the report, Bannon’s host, the Booth School of Business, had zero underrepresented minority faculty. Our campus has also been the site of numerous racist incidents in the last few years. Last year, for example, neo-Nazis repeatedly postered this campus, seeking to intimidate the university community.
Giving a platform to a prominent white nationalist would be a further signal to people of color that they are not welcome on this campus, and would bring other white supremacists onto campus, likely bringing violence with them. The invitation to Bannon represents a physical threat to the university community as a whole, and especially to our students, faculty, and staff of color.
Zingales gives two reasons for his invitation to Steve Bannon. First, Zingales argues that Bannon is an interpreter and representative of the backlash to globalization and immigration. But Bannon is not a representative of the backlash to globalization and immigration; he is a representative of white supremacy, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant hatred. Before Bannon has even arrived, Zingales has begun to whitewash Bannon’s history.
White supremacy, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant hatred are not things to be politely debated, abstracted from their consequences. They are things to be combatted. Moreover, with Donald Trump in the White House and websites like Breitbart enjoying wide readership, these perspective are hardly lacking in the national conversation. Second, Zingales argues that hate is only defeated by reason. But as students of history and social science, we know this to be trite nonsense. White supremacy and hatred cannot be reasoned with. There is no reason to invite Bannon to this campus.
We do not oppose Steve Bannon’s right to free speech. Rather, we oppose the university giving a platform to Steve Bannon and sending the message that white nationalist ideas deserve serious consideration and debate. Speaking at this university is an honor that few people receive. We should not extend this privilege to a white nationalist. Moreover, the right to free speech is differentially distributed on this campus. Students and staff are extended few protections and their right to protest and speak is always precarious. Inviting Bannon to speak on campus would be a demonstration of the university’s commitment to favoring the speech rights of the powerful over those with little institutional power.
Today’s action currently endorsed by:
UChicago Socialists – ISO
UChicago Student Action – UCSA
UChicago Race & Pedagogy Working Group
SJP at the University of Chicago
For additional information about today’s action visit: Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1876893822602675
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