Defend Free Speech and Academic Freedom, Oppose Nominee’s Partisan Agenda
Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | November 2, 2017 | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) calls on Congress to reject Kenneth Marcus, Pres. Donald Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). An opponent of academic freedom, Marcus has spent years aggressively trying to silence pro-Palestinian professors and students and censor criticism of Israeli policies on U.S. college campuses.
Attack on Academic Freedom
As head of the Brandeis Center, Marcus joined pro-Israel lobby groups to call on Congress to “end or mend” federal funding for Middle East Studies programs whose courses are critical of Israeli policies and American conduct in the region.
Attack on Free Expression
An opponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, Marcus used litigious bullying to try to force professors to fall in-line by filing a lawsuit against the American Studies Association after it endorsed BDS.
Attack on Students
Marcus has proposed a broad definition of anti-Semitism that would include criticism of Israel and has implored the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate alleged “anti-Semitic incidents that masquerade as anti-Israelism” by pro-Palestinian voices on campus.
These cases demonstrate an ideological zealotry and intolerance for dissent that is unbecoming for anyone leading such an important office dedicated to upholding civility and civil rights at America’s college and universities.
Congress rebuffed his call to politicize academia and stifle academic freedom; a judge threw out his lawsuit against the ASA; DOE investigations reported that pro-Palestinian activism was simply “robust and discordant expression” common on college campuses.
CRITICISM OF ISRAEL IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM
Sadly, the false accusations and bully tactics haven’t ended. On the contrary, after DOE investigators found that complaints of campus anti-Semitism were unfounded, Marcus bragged that the unnecessary government investigations had put universities “on notice” that “these cases – even when rejected – expose administrators to bad publicity.”
His hostility toward students and professors who disagree with his politics would only worsen if he’s empowered with a government post. As Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, he’ll be able to use the threat of bad publicity to browbeat administrations and push a pro-Israel agenda on campuses. Such bullying would fall hardest on Arab-American and Muslim-American students.
Taxpayers should not foot the bill so Marcus can further his partisan agenda and attempt to do as a public official what he has failed to achieve as a private citizen: silence students, professors, and administrators.
His nomination is a threat to free speech on college campuses and the honest conduct of the DOE. In the past, Congress opposed Marcus’s anti-free speech campaigns. ADC calls on Congress to once again defend the First Amendment and academic freedom. Vote NO on Kenneth Marcus.
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