The University of North Carolina, Asheville, is scheduled to host Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory as its keynote speaker on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 24, despite her anti-Semitic rhetoric and ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
This drew condemnation from groups such as StandWithUs and the Center for Combating Hate in America (C4CHA).
“If the administration is genuine about rejecting anti-Semitism and discrimination, then it will unequivocally condemn Mallory’s hateful statements toward Jews and praise of Louis Farrakhan,” said SWU CEO Roz Rothstein. “Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from criticism for engaging in bigotry. The university should use its own free-speech rights to take a moral stand and confront Mallory on this issue.”
The university defended its decision.
“As has been our custom, the university’s invitation to an individual speaker at a university event in no way implies endorsement of that speaker’s comments, critiques, views, ideas or actions,” said Chancellor Nancy Cable and Interim Provost Karin Peterson.
She added that efforts “are currently underway to create opportunities for our campus and the Asheville community to engage in dialogue around the keynote address, as well as many topics emerging from the activities planned for the week.”
“As organizations and individuals condemn Mallory and distance themselves from her hateful vitriol, UNC Asheville provides a platform for her and lends its authority toward legitimizing her anti-Semitism,” C4CHA Liora Rez told The Algemeiner. “Anyone who propagates hateful messages is free to express their opinions as they wish, but should not be given a public platform at an educational establishment to do so.”
The AMCHA Initiative sought to strike a balance over the development.
“While Mallory has a history of promoting anti-Semitism, she has a right to speak on campus. I don’t believe in disinviting speakers,” said the group’s director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. “But if and when she says something hateful or bigoted toward Jewish students or any students, the UNC administration must publicly and promptly condemn those remarks, just as they would a speaker who spouts racist, sexist, homophobic or Islamophobic statements, and make it clear to the entire campus community that while speech may be protected, hateful and intolerant behavior towards any UNC student will not be tolerated.”