“I really don’t know what we would do in America if we did not have outlets like yours,” Vanderbilt Professor Carol Swain, a black Christian conservative, says.
“I’m a Professor of Political Science and of Law. I’ve taught at Vanderbilt for 16 years and I taught at Princeton for 10. I got early tenure at Princeton. I’ve been cited by the Supreme Court, I’ve won national prizes, and then I had a Christian conversion experience, and once that happened I became marginalized,” Swain tells Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily radio program.
“It’s not just about me,” she explains.
“Facebook has a double standard when it comes to conservatives and liberals and Christians and secular people. And I wonder, with a corporation that large, is that legal? Can they discriminate against conservatives? Can they discriminate against religious people?” Swain asks.
“Aren’t they held to some types of legal standards? I can’t answer that question, but I know that some of the people who are listening this morning can and I think we need to push back and hold them to a standard,” Swain tells Bannon.
Swain explained how the blocking of her Facebook account represents the escalation of harassment of her by Vanderbilt students.
“I’ve had students at Vanderbilt who have been harassing me for a while,” Swain said.
“They actually sent me a message that was signed that said they did not like what I was posting on my [Facebook] page and that if I continued to post articles that were offensive, and there were a whole slew of groups these articles would be offensive to that they would file a petition to have me fired. And, I don’t take well to threats, and as soon as I finished reading this message I posted another article,” Swain added.
“That’s that All-American toughness we love,” Bannon told Swain.
“At Vanderbilt, my life has never been ideal, but only in the last year or so have I encountered this kind of harassment, and it started with an op-ed piece I published about Islam in January after the Charlie Hebdo attacks,” Swain explained.
“The Dean of Students at my university took the highly unusual step of sending out a campus wide email to all the students, and I thought that that encouraged them to do a public protest where they denounced me as a bigot and not really being worthy of the Vanderbilt community, and I was harassed,” Swain said.
“Since you’ve had this Christian conversion,” Bannon asked Swain, “have you felt that as a Christian there’s prejudice against you or that there’s pressure against you or you don’t have the same level of comfort that you’ve had in a more secular …when you were more secular? Is it because of your professed Christianity that you feel like you’re [targeted]?”
“It’s definitely because of my professed Christianity,” Swain told Bannon.
“In fact, back in…2003 the Dean of Faculty at Vanderbilt told me that my faith was standing in the way of my career and that if I wanted to thrive at Vanderbilt I needed to tone it down. I immediately asked ‘had anyone complained?’ He said ‘No.’ I said, ‘I am who I am. I can’t change who I am.’ He said ‘ You can tone it down,’” Swain noted.
“The only thing that I was doing that was offensive is that I have always had a scripture at the end of my email. Other people, they quote movie stars, they quote philosophers, they quote whomever they want to quote, why can’t I have a scripture at the end of my email?” Swain asked.
Swain explained to Bannon what happened after her opinion piece on the Charlie Hebdo attack in France was published in January.
“The opinion piece was in the Tennessean. It did not mention Vanderbilt students or anything about Vanderbilt ,” Swain said.
In that op-ed, “Charlie Hebdo attacks prove critics were right about Islam,” Swain wrote:
What would it take to make us admit we were wrong about Islam? What horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration? . . .
Civic education and other indicators of assimilation should be a prerequisite for remaining and advancing in this nation. We must be willing to recognize the dangers of the burka (head-to-toe garb worn by women in some Islamic sects), which allows individuals to completely conceal their identities.
If Muslims are to thrive in America, and if we are to be safe, then we must have ground rules that protect the people from those who disdain the freedoms that most of the world covets.
As Swain noted, a number of Vanderbilt student groups objected to the ideas she expressed in that op-ed, and the school took actions that, in effect, targeted her.
“The Muslim Student Association complained. The Dean of Students sent out the email telling the students that ‘they recognized that something had happened that pretty much violated their community norms’ and that they–the students–could engage in something like expressive action–to me which is code for protest–and or dialogue and then it gave them numbers for counseling,” Swain explained.
Such a communication is highly unusual.
“Normally sending out a campus wide email to the student body, that’s reserved for serious incidents on campus like maybe somebody was raped, maybe there’s a report of a threat,” Swain noted.
But in this case, the “threat” Swain said “was my ideas.”
“The university has consistently sent out a signal and often said it in writing that my ideas and values don’t reflect those of the university. So they’ve made me a target,” Swain added.
“In the case of Facebook,” Swain explained:
one of the students who had threatened me was embarrassed or offended because he …there was an article in Front Page that talked about the situation and also one that was published in the College Fix. He complained, and I know it was one particular person, and it may have been his friend because he emailed me last night asking me to take down those articles because he was a student and I was a professor and I had an obligation to take the articles down. These articles were written in a national newspaper and forums. I don’t intend to take them down.
“Didn’t Facebook try to shut you down also?” Bannon asked.
“Yes, that’s because he complained I was engaging in abusive . . . that I had violated the community norms of Facebook, and so Facebook first made it impossible for my followers to share article that Daniel Greenfield wrote in Front Page Magazine and so they could not use the share button and then they took down a blog that I had posted that linked to the College Fix article. They took it down completely and warned me that I was abusing the Facebook community standards,” Swain answered.
In the Front Page article published on November 13, “Angry White Leftists Target a Black Conservative Woman,” Greenfield wrote:
Dr. Carol Swain was born in segregated Virginia. The second of twelve children, she grew up sharing a bed with her sisters in a shack that had no running water. Her family was so poor that she had no shoes and had to stay home from school when the weather was bad. She never did make it to high school.
And now 1,400 leftist fascists have signed a petition to Vanderbilt University demanding that one of the most respected African-American scholars in this country take diversity training or be “terminated.”
The petition to force a conservative black woman to undergo diversity training comes from Nick Goldbach, a white hipster student and self-described “urban enthusiast” who claims that working as a waiter at a “sustainable” luxury urban resort in Connecticut taught him about “common humanity.”
Nick cares about “civil rights and social action,” “chic and unassuming” dining experiences and getting a black woman whose writings about race and racism were cited by Supreme Court justices fired.
And once that’s done, Nick and a few of his closest social justice warrior pals can celebrate with another “chic and unassuming” dining experience. Dr. Swain had worked her way up from a GED to a PhD by taking a job at McDonald’s where the dining experiences are unassuming, if not especially chic.
“And so they [Facebook] cited that on Wednesday morning. I notified my Facebook followers that I was having trouble with Facebook and not to be surprised if they took down my page,” Swain explained.
“What they did was they blocked me and said for 21 hours I would not be able to post and at that point I contacted as many people as I could to tell them that Facebook was preventing me, they had blocked me from using my page and my friends started this campaign and somehow it reached Breitbart,” the Vanderbilt professor noted.
Breitbart News was informed of Facebook’s actions against Swain by a reader who had attended the Breitbart meetup held in Nashville in October.
Breitbart asked Facebook to comment on the widespread perception among conservatives that Facebook has a double standard when it comes to conservatives and liberals and Christians and secular people.
In particular, looking at the details of the Carol Swain case, it appears that this perception may be rooted in a greater willingness of Facebook users on the left to file claims of abusive behavior against conservative Facebook users for what most people consider basic freedom of speech.
Breitbart News asked Facebook to comment specifically on whether it was examining its policies regarding abuse and community standards to address this situation that favors liberals over conservatives but has not yet received a response.
A Facebook spokesperson responded to Breitbart’s request for comment:
We work hard to ensure the standards that are in place are properly and uniformly enforced around the world. The number of reports does not impact if content is removed. Only content that violates our guidelines is removed. We do regular quality audits of the decisions our reviewers are making on reported pieces of content, such as posts and photos. Those audits are the best way for us to ensure that our reviews are accurate. This is a challenge, but we do our best to ensure that our one set of global standards are uniformly enforced for our entire community of more than 1.5 billion people.
You can hear the full interview of Carol Swain by Stephen K. Bannon from Friday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily here: