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The hypocrisy of campus protesters

Today, Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m., the Women*s Center and Department of African American Studies are hosting the three co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. While all three women have a history of inflammatory remarks, the most controversial of the activists is Linda Sarsour, a virulent anti-Semite and terrorist sympathizer.

I look forward to hearing what Sarsour has to say on all kinds of subjects. I want to hear her defense of intersectionalist arguments — that one cannot be a feminist without supporting racial, economic, environmental, reproductive, and every other type of “justice.” I look forward to learning why pro-life women and Zionist women do not have a place in her feminist movement. I look forward to understanding how she thinks arranged marriages, like the one she had at the age of 17 and has spoken about as "normal," are compatible with modern feminism.


Our campus has taken a strong stand against perceived hate. In November 2015, the Black Justice League led 200 Princetonians in a walkout and sit-in at President Eisgruber’s office to protest the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, on this campus. In December 2016, 75 Princetonians led by the Anthropology Department staged a walkout of American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray’s speech at Princeton. Last week, when Israeli minister Tzipi Hotovely was scheduled to visit, the Alliance of Jewish Progressives successfully pressured the Center for Jewish Life to rescind its invitation to Hotovely. The argument always goes something like this: This legacy or speaker will provoke hate and fail to positively contribute to discourse in our community. And yet, when anti-Semitic Sarsour comes to campus, the silence is deafening.

Mrs. Sarsour’s history of hate is as deep as it is long. Sarsour has maligned human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, tweeting, “I wish I could take [her] vagina away” and stated she doesn’t “deserve to be [a] wom[a]n.” She has minimized the struggles facing women in Arab countries — praising Saudi Arabia, of all places, as a paragon of women’s rights — citing paid maternity leave. Saudi Arabia? A country where adult women must have a male guardian’s permission to travel, get a passport, or get married. Saudi Arabia? A country where women are required to dress modestly and the only country in the entire world where, up until a few months ago, women were banned from driving a car.

Sarsour’s hatred doesn’t stop at women: She has said there’s “nothing… creepier than Zionism” and supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that seeks to delegitimize Israel and the right for Jews to a national homeland. In a separate instance, on July 16, the official Women’s March Twitter feed posted “Happy birthday to the revolutionary #AssataShakur! Today’s #SignOfResistance, in Assata’s honor.” However, Shakur — also known as Joanne Chesimard — is a convicted first-degree murderer who killed a New Jersey cop in 1973, escaped from prison in 1979, and fled to Cuba in 1984. Sarsour’s hero is on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists. This April, Sarsour honored another one of her heroes, Rasmea Odeh — a terrorist convicted in Israel of killing two Hebrew University students. Odeh was sentenced to life in prison, but released after 10 years in a prisoner exchange. Odeh lied to U.S. immigration services when entering the country, was recently stripped of her U.S. citizenship, and is being deported to Jordan.

Where is the outrage over the fact that Sarsour is being invited to speak at Princeton? Do these campus protesters care at all about hate or is this really an insidious effort to silence different viewpoints? Is there only room on American campuses for a left-wing agenda? I hope not, but I fear so.

The irony of Sarsour's being invited to speak at the University’s Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding is not lost on me. Every American should be offended by Sarsour’s anti-Semitic and anti-feminist advocacy. Yet the answer isn’t to ban Sarsour, or her Castro and Farrakhan-loving colleagues, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez. More than ever, free speech is critical on campus. Although Sarsour’s arguments are indefensible, the bigotry and prejudice that she espouses will only be eradicated with dedicated and rigorous discourse.

Jacob Berman is a sophomore from New York, N.Y. He can be reached at