Monday, March 28, 2016

Haaretz Column: No "Censorship" in the "Principles Against Intolerance"

Haaretz has just published my defense of the UC Regents' "Principles Against Intolerance" and my critique of those crying censorship. The argument is a modified and polished version of what I said here. The principles attack bigotry by demanding more speech, not enforced silence. That's only censorship if critical counterspeech is deemed censorship -- which, when the critics are Jews and the counterspeech is allegations of anti-Semitism, it invariably will be. But if we take that argument as a general principle rather than a Jew-only one-off, then the entire project of combating campus prejudice (not just anti-Semitism) is placed in the crosshairs.

These principles offer a general template for combating prejudice, and a good template at that. The critical cries of censorship have acted as if there is something uniquely censorsial about opposition to anti-Semitism. They fail to recognize how their arguments echo identical "critiques" of anti-racism and other anti-discrimination campaigns. Only by cordoning off anti-Semitism from other forms of discrimination -- treating claims of it as uniquely suspect or uniquely ill-considered -- can these critiques elide the similarities between how they object to the Regents' resolution and how conservatives have long dismissed efforts at combating other forms of bias.

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