Monday, May 23rd | 22 Iyyar 5782

May 23, 2017 10:47 am

Linda Sarsour’s Bigoted Discourse at Dartmouth

avatar by Dexter Van Zile


Linda Sarsour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a few days, Linda Sarsour — a defender of sharia law in the United States, and a fierce anti-Zionist — will give the commencement address at the School of Public Health at the City University of New York (CUNY).

Sarsour is well known as a feminist and liberal crusader. But her credentials as a women’s rights activist were tarnished after it was discovered that she posted an ugly tweet in 2011 that promoted contempt and violence toward Brigette Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, two activists who have advocated for women’s rights in Muslim-majority societies.

In the tweet, Sarsour declared that Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali were “asking for an a$$ whippin’” and wished that she could take their vaginas away because they “don’t deserve to be women.”

This tweet (which Sarsour eventually deleted, but not before it was captured and rebroadcast on a number of websites) was particularly offensive because Ali had been the victim of female genital mutilation (FGM), an abhorrent practice that is all-too-common in Muslim countries, particularly in North Africa.

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FGM is particularly prevalent in Egypt, despite a government ban on the practice (that ban is supported by many imams in the country). Yet despite the ban, reports indicate that more than 90 percent of women between the ages of 15-49 in Egypt have been subjected to FGM.

Many Muslim intellectuals have condemned the practice, but it remains a huge public health issue, which makes Sarsour’s appearance at CUNY’s School of Public Health ironic, at the very least.

To be fair, after her Tweet was exposed, Sarsour condemned the practice of FGM. But, apparently, she has yet to accept full responsibility for broadcasting hostility towards Gabriel and Ali.

When Sarsour was confronted about the appropriateness of the tweet by a CAMERA student activist during a May 12, 2017, appearance at Dartmouth College, she tried to suggest that there was some uncertainty about whether or not she posted the tweet. To make matters worse, she then cited the skin color and gender of her questioner in order to justify evading the question.

That exchange was caught on video, and can be viewed here.

In the video, the student asks — reasonably enough, “under what circumstances is it acceptable to say that ‘I wish I could take their vaginas away. They don’t deserve to be women.’ Just to give that context, that was one of your tweets on your Twitter.”

After a moment’s pause, Sarsour declares, “So, let’s give some context here. This is an event organized by an Asian American, right? Let’s get some context to what’s going on. Celebrating a community. Talking about communities of color impacted at this moment and I have a young white man who is not directly impacted by any of the issues that I mentioned.”

This response, which sadly enough elicited a round of applause from the students at Dartmouth , reveals that when dealing with issues of human and women’s rights, Sarsour considers skin color to be of paramount importance in determining how she will answer the question, or as we shall see, whether she responds to the question at all.

By responding as she did, Sarsour suggested that the young man challenging her — because of his skin color — lacked the moral imagination to fully understand the issues being discussed at her talk. As a result, she suggested he had no right to ask a question or even speak at the event. Such rhetoric is deeply dehumanizing, racist and corrosive to civil society.

Sarsour then declared that her questioner was basing his question on a screenshot from a “right-wing blog,” the authenticity of which is questionable. She stated: “He doesn’t even know it if came from my Twitter account to see if it’s actually there. That never happened.”

Sarsour continued:

But let me say this to you. You’re college students. I was in my twenties and when was that? 2011? People say stupid shit sometimes, right? I will be judged by my impeccable track record for standing for black lives and immigrants’ rights and womens’ rights, LGBT rights. You judge me by that record and not by some tweet you think I did or did not tweet 10 years ago or seven years ago, whenever it was. So that’s my answer to your question. Next.

Sarsour seemed to admit that she posted the tweet in question — “People say stupid shit sometimes, right?” — but she refrained from openly admitting her guilt. Instead, she described the tweet in question as something she “did or did not” post.

It’s hard to decide which is more appalling — the dishonest and racist manner in which Sarsour evaded the question, or the two rounds of applause that she was given by the students at Dartmouth College during her response.

What is happening at our universities? Has the student body at Dartmouth, which charges more than $50,000 in annual tuition, failed to learn that attacking a person’s race and gender does not qualify as reasoned discourse, and that to do so is neither intellectual or liberal? Does Dartmouth really qualify as a place where the liberal arts are taught?

Or is it just a place where students are indoctrinated in the “smelly little orthodoxies” that Orwell warned us about in 1939?

In any event, the students at CUNY’s School of Public Health will have to determine how they will respond to Sarsour’s participation at their graduation. Hopefully, they will show more wisdom and intelligence than the students at Dartmouth.

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