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Fallout from DePaul professor’s ‘Islamophobic’ article continues

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Fallout from DePaul professor’s ‘Islamophobic’ article continues

Protestors taking part in the Wednesday, April 23 protest in Arts & Letters.

Protestors taking part in the Wednesday, April 23 protest in Arts & Letters.

Danaka Katovich | College Democrats

Protestors taking part in the Wednesday, April 23 protest in Arts & Letters.

Danaka Katovich | College Democrats

Danaka Katovich | College Democrats

Protestors taking part in the Wednesday, April 23 protest in Arts & Letters.

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Correction: A previous version of the article misspelled Hadiya Afzal’s first name. It is spelled Hadiya, not Hadyia. The DePaulia acknowledges and apologizes for the error. 

Aggrieved students were vocal this week about their desire for DePaul to censure Professor Jason Hill over an article he wrote last week in The Federalist, a right-wing online news magazine, in which he wrote that Israel has “the moral right” to annex the West Bank and strip Arabs living in Israel of their right to vote.

Students organized a protest in Arts & Letters in the early afternoon of Wednesday, April 24 to express their frustration with the inaction on the part of the DePaul administration.

A coalition of student groups last week put out a statement that called on DePaul to censure Hill for the “Islamophobic” and “racist” views espoused in the article.

“We call on the administration to stand against hate, to stand against racism,” the protestors chanted as they dropped fliers from the upper floors of the building’s atrium and draped signs over the banisters saying “DePaul Must Dump Hill.”

Within 30 minutes of the culmination of the protest, President A. Gabriel Esteban emailed a letter to the DePaul community outlining his position on the controversy surrounding Hill.

“DePaul […] holds academic freedom in the highest regard,” Esteban wrote. “When professors speak or write on topics that prompt strongly-held, divergent perspectives, the question of academic freedom often arises.

“Should faculty be allowed to express a provocative position?” Esteban continued. “The short answer is yes. Yet, DePaul aspires to be a community marked by mutual respect, always aware of the potential impact of our words and actions. Both of these outcomes are achievable.”

Esteban’s letter did little to satisfy the dozens of upset students who felt offended and even personally attacked by Hill’s language. Some students like Hadiya Afzal, a member of the DePaul Democrats, said Esteban’s statement just goes to show that DePaul still isn’t good at listening to the demands and desires of the student body.

“We weren’t calling for DePaul to fire him, we just wanted them to say that this was unacceptable,” Afzal said. “The administration hasn’t really learned how to take students seriously when it comes to these debates, which is disappointing.”

While Esteban did say that Hill’s views are not reflective of the views of DePaul as a whole, he declined to censure him for making statements that he characterized as “unpopular.”

“I don’t feel safe as a Muslim student knowing that someone like this is on our campus,” Afzal said. “It’s ridiculous that my tuition is going to the salary of an Islamophobe, of a transphobe, of a very sexist man.”

Controversy surrounding free speech debates at DePaul have been thrust to the forefront of the community’s consciousness in the years since Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak on campus by the College Republicans, and he was interrupted by demonstrators who disagreed with him being allowed to speak on campus.

In that instance, then-university president Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider took a stance similar to Esteban’s. He said that Yiannopoulos should have been allowed to speak and he was “ashamed” when he saw a protestor steal a microphone out of his hand.

“[Yiannopoulos] was invited to speak at DePaul, and those who interrupted the speech were wrong to do so,” Holtschneider wrote at the time. “Universities welcome speakers, give their ideas a respectful hearing, and then respond with additional speech countering the ideas.”

Student groups circulated a Google doc with dozens of screenshots from Hill’s Twitter account in which he expresses support for Islamophobic conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, who was banned from Twitter in November for a tweet about Rep. Ilhan Omar and Muslims that violated Twitter’s hate speech policy.

“It’s a pattern of discrimination,” Afzal said. “We worry that these patterns will manifest themselves in very unfortunate ways if it’s not corrected by DePaul.”


26 Responses to “Fallout from DePaul professor’s ‘Islamophobic’ article continues”

  1. Anonymous on April 29th, 2019 10:21 am

    It’s really a shame the way these privileged white kids demand that a person of color’s voice be silenced. I expected better from DePaul.

  2. M on April 29th, 2019 11:40 am

    A- To the person above me, even if he is a man of color, he is held to the same standard as anyone else and he may be told that what is saying is unacceptable, color or no color. You don’t know if they are white kids who are privileged, kids of color who are privileged, or anything else. Even if they are white or are privileged, they are allowed to speak their mind to someone of color. SORRY BUD
    B- That being said, he did not say anything unacceptable. If he feels strongly toward Israel in the conflict, he is allowed to have that view, no matter who wants to cry about it and call it racism. He is entitled to his own view, like you all are entitled to your own view. Calling it discriminatory or anti-Islam is just another way of trying to silence someone for having a view that you don’t like. Breaking news: your opinion doesn’t matter, he can have any view he wants.

  3. C on April 29th, 2019 6:07 pm

    “That being said, he did not say anything unacceptable” — are you joking? He literally said that not all cultures are created equally, and that the United States should fund a religiously-driven war to eradicate Palestinians. I’d say that’s pretty damn discriminatory.

    “Calling it discriminatory or anti-Islam is just another way of trying to silence someone for having a view that you don’t like.” Lol uh what?????? No it’s not. It’s calling it what it is — hate speech. I can call Hill’s abhorrent op-ed and tweets “hate speech” all I want, but I’m not the word police here. I can’t keep him from saying anything. If other people with considerably more power than I do find that it’s discriminatory, that it’s hate speech, that it incites violence or oppressive behavior or enables Islamophobes, then that’s their prerogative to silence him. But until that happens, I and others are going to keep calling out that kind of rhetoric.

    Also — Breaking news: saying “your opinion doesn’t matter, he can have any view he wants” is quite possibly the laziest and most overused way to defend someone ever. And that’s the tea.

  4. N on April 30th, 2019 8:21 pm

    Ok so first thing:
    We need to recognize that the term “equal” can be interpreted any number of ways depending on your point of view. If we are using the term in the literal sense, nothing is equal no matter how identical it is to something else. Two separate opjects, people, ideologies, or cultures are not equal due to the fact that they are two separate entities. However we often interpret “equal/unequal” in a hierarchical context, and we assume that unequal things are automatically characterized as superior or inferior. Every culture has its pros and cons, but that doesn’t mean a culture is superior or inferior in its entirety. When professor Hill said, “not all cultures are indeed equal” he was discussing how some cultures fall short of the world wide standard for human rights, and personal freedoms. Although I disagree with his use of the word “inferior” to describe these governing philosophies, I still think many cultures promote ideologies that are problematic. (including our own)

    second thing:
    I’ve heard a lot of accusations that Professor Hill is encouraging a religious/cultural genocide. Just to make sure we are all on the same page, I am assuming that genocide is referring to the indiscriminate killing of members within an entire culture, country, or religious sect. After carefully reading through the DePaulia article, your posts, and Professor Hill’s article, I found a number of inconsistencies.

    He is not advocating for a Palestinian genocide, he was specifically making the (moral) case for the Israeli’s retaliation against Hamas. Hamas is a political and military coalition with a large group of extremists under their wing. This group is comprised of Muslims from a number of countries, and openly express their hostility towards Israeli Jews and the Jewish faith. The extremist wing of Hamas has engaged in countless terror attacks, armed insurgencies, and political tyranny with no intention to negotiate peace or abandon their anti-Semitic ideologies.

    His opinions on twitter are controversial, provocative, disruptive, .and right leaning… but not racist. Additionally, he has not violated any of twitter’s hate speech terms.

    I read a quote in the DePaulia describing him as misogynist and a transphobe. Most of his comments on sex and sexuality were about LGBT+ persecution, and violence against women… oh and that hes openly gay. None of this was mentioned in the article about him, or the conversations I’ve had with other DePaul students.

    P.S. If opinions didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be a comment section here. And none of us would care to comment on each others opinions.

  5. Dan on May 1st, 2019 7:45 am

    Going by the students behavior I have every right to demand that they be censured or expelled by the school because they are expressing a thought with which I disagree? Does that sound fair? I would also suggest these students find a law professor and have that person explain exactly what the First Amendment promises to all Americans.

  6. Nonnie on May 1st, 2019 8:27 am

    If Ms. Afzal is so very fragile that she feels unsafe because someone has an opinion that differs from hers, I suggest that she return home and seek psychiatric help.

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  8. N on May 1st, 2019 6:44 pm


    I can understand why Afzal felt so uneasy about a subject that is very near and dear to her heart. Its not about an opinion that is different than hers, Its about her interpretation of what those opinions meant. I understand why she interpreted it that way, however I also think she jumped to a conclusion that was emotionally right but perhaps not factually right.

  9. Becky on May 1st, 2019 7:53 pm

    I am shocked at the hateful treatment of the students directed at a member of faculty who supports Israel! Most Americans support Israel for heaven’s sake!. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and yet these morons at DePaul want to flog someone who sounds like the only sane person on that whole campus. These students are completely ignorant of history and need to stop listening to socialist propaganda against Israel. I say to them: Go visit Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and spend the summer. Then go to Israel!!

  10. JR on May 2nd, 2019 12:04 am

    Someone needs to ask Afzal (or anyone who supports BDS) these two questions:
    1: What would happen if all the people attacking Israel laid down their arms?
    2: What would happen if Israel laid down their arms?
    The answer to the first question is that those people would be allowed to move on with their lives and make with it what they may. The answer to the second question is that Israel would be destroyed by the people who have attacked the Jewish people for decades. Ms. Afzal doesn’t feel safe on campus because a professor wrote an op-ed? She should spend some time in Israel where,, in 2018, Hamas and their ilk fired 1000 rockets into the country.

  11. Darby Heavey on May 2nd, 2019 7:24 am

    This episode is proof that these young students lack the intellectual rigor to be in college. Perhaps they should return to grade school for remedial work.

    The proper remedy for speech that offends you is more speech- make a better argument than Mr. Hill if you can. The silencing of those that you disagree with is fascist behavior.

  12. Neil Klein on May 2nd, 2019 8:14 am

    I wholehardly support Professor Jason Hill. These little nazis who are a bunch of parasites are the real racists!!! They can’t deal with an African American intellectual & scholar who doesn’t follow their party line!!! “palestinian” & arab nationalism is historically in line with hitler & the nazi regime!!!

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  19. Tom on May 4th, 2019 10:28 am

    I totally agree with Jason Hill. In addition, DePaul needs to deed their land back to the Potawatomi since it was
    stolen from the Native Americans who lived there originally. When the Muslims and their backward nations start allowing for
    LGBTQ parades, like Israel does in Tel Aviv, then I will change my opinion of DePaul students.

    Hypocrisy among Muslim students knows no bounds.

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  21. Peter on May 5th, 2019 8:59 am

    It seems like the left have no idea of the concept of free speech. There is nothing in the professor’s article that violates free speech, but the left are trying to silence him as they cannot debate the issue on its merits.

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  24. Tom Kochis on May 9th, 2019 10:31 am

    I am not an alum but I have been making donations to DePaul. After reading all the reports I could find regarding DePaul’s treatment of Professor Hill, I believe that he doesn’t deserve the treatment he has received. This bothers me. I will no longer be making my modest donations to DePaul. I can easily find another charitable organization that isn’t political to give that money to.

  25. edwin on May 10th, 2019 8:34 am

    I read Professor Hill’s brief article in the Federalist. I believe he is expressing a legitimate opinion well within the range of acceptable political discourse. There are some parts of it I disagree with, mostly from a practical perspective. I think that trying to govern more territory in the West Bank is impractical for Israel. Rather, they should hasten to establish clear boundaries and separate their nation from the surrounding non-Israeli Arabs encouraging them to either form their own country or countries or (better) to join with an existing nearby country such as Egypt in the case of Gaza and Jordan for the West Bank. But I understand Professor Hill’s perspective and I think it is a reasonable one.

  26. Mike O'Brien on May 15th, 2019 2:28 pm

    It’s really disheartening to see “my” side of the political spectrum wish to silence and censor opposing views. It was never like this before. We welcomed the racists, bigots, and homophobes into debate and shut them down with well-reasoned arguments. Having read the article in question, I think this falls short of those labels and comes off more as an opposing view to the current “Israel = bad” held beliefs among younger folks. Still, it’d be nice to see the left return to its roots and debate those with opposing viewpoints instead of doing the very thing we see the right constantly do — which is stifle their speech, while being faux outraged and screaming like petulant children. We’re better than this. We meet adversity head on and provide compelling evidence why the “other side” is incorrect. Bumper sticker slogans, hashtags, and tumblr memes won’t cut it.

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