Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 29, 2007
At Michigan State University Friday, Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party who was convicted in 1998 for incitement of racial hatred over material denying the Holocaust, was brought to campus for a speech denouncing Islam. Griffin acknowledges having been a Holocaust denier, but says he no longer is one. His party is on record opposing black-white marriages, believing that black people are less intelligent than white people, and saying that ethnic minorities should be limited to 2-3 percent of the population of any given area in Britain.
Griffin was invited to Michigan State by the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. He was supposed to give a one-hour talk about Islam and then answer questions for an hour, but audience members started shouting at him shortly after he started his talk and he shifted to Q&A format so he could answer what was being shouted at him.
The event took place on the last day of (but was not part of) Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, an event organized by David Horowitz to sponsor speakers on campuses nationwide to criticize radical Islam. Organizers of the speech at Michigan State said that while they supported Horowitz’s activities, it was “a coincidence” that they brought in their anti-Muslim speaker the same week as Horowitz was planning his activities. Horowitz disavowed the event, but some Muslim leaders said it was a perfect demonstration of their prediction that his activities would make it easier for others to attack Islam on campuses.
“Because Nick Griffin is a known Holocaust denier, people like David Horowitz want to separate themselves from someone like that,” said Nada Zohdy, a sophomore at Michigan State who is chair of political action for the Muslim Students’ Association. “What Horowitz does paves the way for even more extreme views to be expressed and tolerated—and to blur the line between an important discussion about threats to our nation and blatant expressions of hatred.”
He said that because Griffin has “recanted” his past Holocaust denial, that shouldn’t be an issue. What should get attention, he said, was that a speaker was shouted down and that organizers of the event were later “chased by a mob with sticks and bats.” He accused the Michigan State police of not taking the attack seriously.
The event, Bristow said, was “disrupted by intellectual fascists.”
In terms of the event as a whole, he said via e-mail: “The two-hour event was contentious, heated, and surely not, in my opinion, a poster event for civil discourse. The speaker was often shouted AT, but since the scheduled two-hour event lasted two hours, I would not say he was shouted DOWN. No arrests, as far as I know. No removals. To be sure, it was two hours of name calling and shouting and the prepared speech wasn’t given, but amid the contentious exchanges, I would say Griffin was able to convey his intended core messages. And I would say the required question-answer component of our policy was met. During the exchanges I heard things I found reprehensible and counter to MSU’s values. But bottom line: the marketplace on the banks of the Red Cedar was tested—and was kept open, safe, and accessible, if not, to me, enlightening or elevating.”
For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2007
For More Information:
MSU Young Americans for Freedom
Conservatives Assaulted After Speaker Shouted Down
Nick Griffin, the chairman of the British National Party, did not receive a pleasant welcome during his visit to Michigan State University on Friday. Countered by a mob of extremists, Griffin continually faced loud remarks and booing during his two-hour speech at the university.
After protesters disrupted America’s pledge of allegiance, Griffin constantly dealt with loud accusations of racism, baby killing and hatred. Throughout the event, Griffin was ignored and all questions relating to mass immigration were immediately shouted down and screamed upon. YAF chairman Kyle Bristow stated that he “Was amazed at the level of savagery that occurred at a so-called institution of higher learning.” Video footage of the event is available upon request.
Upon exiting the building, YAF members were chased by a mob of extremists carrying baseball bats, canes and sticks. The mob shouted “let’s get them” as the YAF members ran towards safety.
Police reports have been filed and YAF is working with authorities; although the police have been little help in the past; Bristow hopes that Michigan State will stand up for free speech and civility on its campus. “Michigan State needs to defend free speech instead of promoting the hatred and intolerance of the left. Griffin’s opposition claims to oppose fascism yet it seems that the biggest fascists come from groups such as MEChA, La Raza, LGBT, and Students for Economic Justice. These organizations hate diversity, hate intellectual debate and do not tolerate anyone that does not think like them. YAF will not be intimidated and will continue to fight left-wing fascism.”
The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is a conservative, non-partisan political organization that was founded on September 11, 1960. Former members of YAF include President Ronald Reagan, author Pat Buchanan, Congressmen Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher, Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle, and actor John Wayne.
This is not the first time an event hosted by conservatives was disrupted at MSU. Last year, protesters disrupted a speech by Congressman Tom Tancredo and Minuteman Chris Simcox. Both of these events made national news.