Monday, 11 February 2013

Brooklyn College, BDS and Freedom of Speech

Brooklyn College is part of the City University of New York, one of the largest public universities in the United States, and one underpinned historically by an admirable stress on access, and on serving the diverse communities of New York City.   Ethnic minority students and women have particularly high representation amongst the student body.  CUNY has been associated, therefore, with the immigrant and working-class communities of the city, and with providing high-class third-level education to people who could not afford access to private university education, let alone the Ivy League universities. At one point, indeed, City College was regarded as 'the Harvard of the proletariat'.

This radical and honourable history has been besmirched recently by efforts to quash freedom of discussion at one of CUNY's constituent colleges, Brooklyn College.  The College Director has been threatened by New York City Council with a withdrawal of funding if she permitted talks by Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti about the BDS campaign against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to go ahead.

Here is a link to an excellent article in the American leftwing newspaper The Nation exposing some of the NYC political manoeuvering behind the story:

The Former Terror Suspect Leading the Attack on the ... - The Nation

And here is the speech given by Judith Butler (definitely the heroine of this blog!) when the event went ahead:

Judith Butler's Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS