Three Pomona College students declared that the very notion of “objective truth” is “a myth” generated to perpetuate “white supremacy,” according to a report from the Claremont Independent.
The students penned an open letter to outgoing Pomona College President David Oxtoby in response to the latter’s campus-wide email issued April 7 with the subject of “Academic Freedom and Free Speech.” Oxtoby’s email concerned the student protests that arose when Heather Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute scholar, was invited to Claremont McKenna College to speak April 6 about her book, “The War on Cops.” Pomona, located in southern California, is one of the five Claremont colleges.
“Engaging with her, a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state, is a form of violence.”
Oxtoby had written, “Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses … What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society.”
But the open letter’s three signatories blasted Oxtoby’s defense of free speech and took issue with activities taken for “the discovery of truth.”
“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions,” the students claimed. “It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry.”
“It appears that the students, the products, apparently, of American public schools, have learned little except the ability to parrot shop-worn Marxist slogans of so-called class and racial oppression,” Dr. John Fonte, senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute, told LifeZette in an email.
According to the incensed students, the alleged “anti-Black” subject matter of Mac Donald’s book does not adhere to the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement, and thus inherently disqualifies her from earning the right to speak freely on campus. Her work, they believe, cannot be “legitimized” by an invitation to speak. Any viewpoint that looks favorably upon law enforcement, these students contend, marginalizes their existence by default.
“The idea that the search for this truth involves entertaining Heather Mac Donald’s hate speech is illogical,” the students wrote. “If engaged, Heather Mac Donald would not be debating on mere difference of opinion, but the right of Black people to exist.”
Without bothering to cite any facts to buttress their screed, the students dubbed Mac Donald “a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live.”
“Why are you, and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?” the students asked Oxtoby. “Engaging with her, a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state, is a form of violence.”
The three students and the letter’s 24 co-signatories agreed “the discovery of truth” and the search “for some venerated truth” is inherently emblematic of “white supremacy.”
“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples,” the writers opined. “The idea that there is a single truth — ‘the Truth’ — is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain.”
“This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny,” the students maintained. “The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
The students also took aim at the editorial staff of the Claremont Independent. The students accused the young writers of engaging in the “continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds” through their reporting and commentary.
If the Claremont Independent released the signatories’ names and exposed them to threats and hate mail, the students demanded that the college take legal action against them, including “disciplinary action” and “expulsion on the grounds of endangering the well-being of others.”
The Claremont Independent did provide an online link to the entire letter, including the identification of the signatories.
The writers demanded that Oxtoby respond by Tuesday and then construct a “revised” email with an apology to the student body, faculty and staff by Thursday.
Although Oxtoby’s email set the students off on their anti-truth and anti-free speech tirade, Fonte suggested that the president’s actions did not constitute full support for either truth or freedom of speech.
“[Oxtoby] stated that ‘we cannot support’ shutting down a speaker. This is all well and good,” Fonte said. “However, when Heather Mac Donald was prevented by thugs from speaking at his college, were the disruptors punished in any way? If they were students they should have been expelled.”
“If no measures were taken against the disruptors of the Mac Donald speech, then the words of Pomona College President David Oxtoby in which he reiterated support for free speech are meaningless,” Fonte concluded.