Oberlin College has recently come under fire for the online remarks of professor Joy Karega, who took to Facebook to publicize her claims that “Israeli and Zionist Jews” were behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the rise of ISIS. She has also shared remarks by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, who said that “white people are potential humans – they haven’t evolved yet.”
Roger Cohen of The New York Times recently contributed a piece entitled, “An Anti-Semitism of the Left”, which details the issues that arise when criticisms of Israel evolve into demonizations. Cohen also details a comment made by an Oberlin alumna, who claims that she heard students dismiss the Holocaust as only “white on white crime.” The Oberlin faculty and administration, which have a reputation for integrating progressivism and social justice into their respective missions, has been largely silent in response to the Karega’s remarks and radicalism.
Karega, who is an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, received her PhD from the University of Louisville in 2014. Oberlin’s website lists her areas of research and expertise as “black political and protest literacies, translingual composition, rhetoric and composition historiography, social justice writing, and writing pedagogy.”
She has taken to social media to convey more of her expertise, like her belief that the ALS Ice Bucket challenge was a tool of racist oppression, and that Hurricane Sandy was engineered by those who have learned how to control the weather and plan to use it as a weapon.
In a statement made in February, the college came to the defense of Karega’s right to express herself online. According to the statement, Karega’s remarks are protected under the school’s mission to “respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff and alumni to express their personal views.” However, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Oberlin, Clyde McGregor, called Karega’s remarks “anti-semitic and abhorrent.” Oberlin alumni and the rest of the Board of Trustees are also registering their criticisms of Karega, and some are calling for her status with the college to be reconsidered.
Considering the recent controversy and chaos surrounding the college tour of Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, the lack of criticism directed at Karega is perhaps revealing of a greater issue on American college campuses. Yiannopoulos’ brand of cultural libertarianism infused with humor has forced universities to place restrictions on his events and his abilities to interact with student’s directly, but Karega’s radicalism has yet to draw significant criticism from left-wing students on campus.
It’s unclear exactly how Oberlin College will handle Karega and her unsavory remarks, but their ultimate decision will be a defining moment for the college and it’s overall purpose going forward.
Tom Ciccotta writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta .