The great effort of the present-day censors on campuses across the West is to make speech synonymous with action. Campaigners against free expression claim that words not only “wound” people but actually “kill”. They claim that people associated with any group being criticised are not only suffering a verbal “assault” but an actual “physical” assault. Those who campaign against any and all criticism of Islamists, for instance, not only claim that the attacks are “Islamophobic” and target “all Muslims”. They also claim that such words cause violence — including violence against any and all Muslims.
One of the notable things about their objection is that the people who make such claims rarely if ever exercise the same civic hygiene they demand of everybody else. It is interesting to consider what would happen were anyone to demand the same standards of these campaigners as they demand of others.
Consider the case of one Malia Bouattia. This is the young woman who is currently president of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Britain. The NUS has long been a campaigning organisation less interested in standing up for the rights and welfare of students as a whole than campaigning for the sort of issues that preoccupy a portion of the hard-left in Britain, at the forefront of which is anti-Zionism. Since her election as NUS president last year, a number of British universities have sought to disaffiliate from the organization in apparent recognition that it has taken an especially virulent turn.
Before she became NUS president, Bouattia had a particular track-record for a type of militant anti-Zionism which can only endear a person to people like the NUS. In a speech recorded in 2014 at a conference on “Gaza and the Palestinian Revolution”, Bouattia railed against “Mainstream Zionist-led media outlets” in which, she said, “resistance is resented as an act of terrorism.” Three years earlier — in 2011 — Bouattia referred to the University of Birmingham as “something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education.”
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