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Boston College Republicans to Host Speaker With History of Islamophobic Comments

Editor’s Note: Over 100 students gathered outside Andrew Klavan’s Tuesday night appearance to protest his lecture. Read our coverage of it here.

Andrew Klavan, a popular conservative journalist and writer, will be coming to Boston College on Tuesday for a Boston College Republicans-sponsored event. Klavan often talks about Judeo-Christian identity in the West, and his previous university speaking engagements have been protested by students and administrators alike who view some of his past comments as Islamophobic and racist.

In May, Stanford administrators openly criticized a Klavan speaking event at the University for his views on Islam, particularly citing a Daily Wire video in which he attacks Muslims.

“Jihad is a spiritual struggle during which a Muslim attempts to rise to a higher plane of consciousness by slaughtering non-believers, raping their women, taking over their civilizations, and persecuting and oppressing them until they’re all dead,” Klavan said in the video.

“Jihad is a religious concept, and religion is sacred,” Klavan continued. “That’s why it’s called ‘religion.’ If it weren’t sacred, it would not be called religion, but something else, like killing and raping people. Then you would be able to oppose it, but as long as it’s called religion, you must submit to being killed and raped. That’s in the Constitution. And lest any foul Jews or Christians go around feeling superior to anybody, just remember the Bible has lots of ugly things in it too. Like when Jesus went on the Crusades and murdered gay people.”

In his book The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, Klavan wrote that he sees European culture as superior to all other cultures.

“It sometimes seems to me the entire postmodern assault on the concept of truth has been staged to avoid just this conclusion: some cultures are simply more productive than others and the high culture of Europe has been the most productive so far,” Klavan wrote. “It’s as if, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, Western thinkers have become so skittish around the idea of racism they will do anything to avoid naming their culture as superior to others, even if it means avoiding the evidence of their own eyes.”

Klavan also faced controversy when he visited the University of Memphis, according to its student newspaper The Daily Helmsman, where the president of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)—a network of conservative public figures and activists that work with college organizations—said that students had been taking down promotional posters for a Klavan speaking event.

“In inviting Mr. Klavan to give a talk on campus, titled “The Art of Being Free,” Boston College Republicans considered his views on freedom, happiness, and conservatism,” Luis Duran, president of Boston College Republicans and MCAS ’21, said to The Heights in an email.

Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boston College Republicans say that delays in the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) approval process for a lecture by Klavan diminished the club’s ability to effectively advertise and organize for the event.

Duran said he reached out to YAF in early June to begin preliminary talks about bringing a speaker to BC. They finalized the plan for Klavan’s lecture and submitted the contract for approval to OSI on Sept. 30. 

OSI requires student groups to submit contracts for review five to seven weeks before events, according to a presentation provided to organization leaders. OSI approved the event on Wednesday.

Duran said he reached out to OSI several times during the approval period and usually received a response saying they were reviewing the contract. Boston College Republicans was told that there was some legal language OSI wanted to make sure the contract articulated correctly,, according to Duran.

“The contracts are reviewed by the Office of Student Involvement with the input of the General Counsel’s office, so this review can take some time,” Roatha Kong, associate director for student organizations, said in an email to The Heights. “We worked to move this along as quickly as possible. The College Republicans are funding the speaker and given the amount they are spending and the nature of the speech, we deemed this a prominent event and, therefore, followed the guidelines found in our Prominent Speakers event policy.”

This delay in approval led to a variety of issues, Duran said, the first concerning advertising for the event. Because the approval came in five days before the event, the club was not able to print fliers advertising the lecture as they didn’t have confirmation of where it would take place, Duran said.

Klavan’s lecture will be Boston College Republicans’ only speaker event of the year—the organization is spending $6,500 of its $8,000 budget on him.

YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown said the delays in the approval process served to censor a conservative public figure.

“It’s shameful that Boston College administrators are dragging their feet, thereby only giving students a few days to advertise their upcoming lecture with Andrew Klavan,” Brown said. “Furthermore, BC is acting hypocritically in their decision to block the public from attending in an attempt to limit attendance and prevent the free and open exchange of conservative ideas. Boston College is treating conservative students as second-class citizens of their community and ought to be ashamed.” 

Brown did not immediately reply to a second request for comment on Klavan’s Islamophobic statements.

Duran, however, said that he did not interpret the approval process as any form of discrimination against Boston College Republicans.

“To be perfectly clear, my organization and I, we haven’t claimed that this is any form of discrimination,” Duran said. “Frankly because it doesn’t do us any good. Whether it’s true or not, I personally think it’s irrelevant. The issue is that it took so long to do and there was a delay, and that delay has hurt out event.”

Featured Image by Embutler / Wikimedia Commons

November 4, 2019

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