by Ari Lieberman
Officials turn a blind eye toward blatant anti-Semitism.
On its website, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) boasts its commitment to diversity, respect for individual differences and commitment to the principles of nonviolence and peaceful conflict resolution. These and other lofty values are incorporated in MTSUs “True Blue Pledge” that incoming students take at convocation. Unfortunately, MTSU has failed to abide by its own principles and has turned a blind eye toward hate speech and incitement to violence.
The Muslim Students Association maintains an active and pernicious presence at MTSU. Much has been written about the MSA and its nefarious origins and activities but briefly; the MSA is an Islamo-fascist organization with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the MB has described the MSA as one of its organizations. The MSA has received financing from various extremist elements, subscribes to an extremist ideology that incorporates elements of Wahabism and has been described by law enforcement as an “incubator for radicalization” and a “virtual terror factory.”
The MSA has attempted to present a moderate face in its dealings with outsiders who are believed to possess clout or are otherwise deemed useful. Thus, the MSA has frequently paired with other radical, non-Muslim groups in an effort to piggy-back off the grievances of others even when those groups possess views that are not necessarily congruent with Islamic teachings. Homosexuality is banned in Islam and is punishable by death in many Muslim countries, including Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Yet it is not uncommon to witness MSA members and their offshoots partnering with radical LGBTQ groups in bizarre symbiotic relationships to espouse shared hatred of Israel.
But for all their attempts to hide their malevolence and outright anti-Semitism, MSA members find it difficult to contain their racist ideology. Try as they might, anti-Semites cannot control themselves and social media outlets provide an excellent forum for them to spew their rancid hate.
Anti-Israel shills often claim that they have nothing against Jews, and their grievances rest with Israel exclusively. But a series of revealing Judeophobic tweets from former and current MTSU students who were also MSA members belies this claim and shamefully exposes the MSA for what it truly is – a malevolent collection of rabid racists who frequently invoke anti-Semitic memes and revel in talk of death to Jews.
Canary Mission, a watchdog group that has performed an admirable job in compiling, cross-referencing and cataloguing anti-Semitic hate speech on college campuses has profiled several current and former students at MTSU who were also affiliated with the MSA through membership and action.
On July 19, 2016 Shaden Hamdulla, a biochemistry major at MTSU and MSA member tweeted the following; “Y5rib bat el yahood,” which translates to “May Allah destroy the Jews.” In another gem authored by Hamdulla, she hopes for Hitler’s revival and the rounding up of Jews into concentration camps.
On July 14, 2014 Dana Swaies, an MTSU student, majoring in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a prolific Twitter user tweeted the following; “Falasteen bladna wel yahood klabna!!! Allah yakhdak!” [Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dog!!! May Allah annihilate you!]. Swaies also tweeted support for Hamas, a group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and tweeted conspiracy theories linking the 9-11 attacks to Jews. According to Canary Mission, Swaies was an organizer for the MSA.
Rounding off the trio of misfits is another MSA member and MTSU student named Dareen Ahmad whose Twitter feed was liberally sprinkled with anti-Semitic pejoratives that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud and included pleas to Allah to “annihilate” the Jews, references to Jews as “dogs” and appeals for Hitler’s revival.
Once exposed, Swaies and Hamdulla closed their Twitter accounts while Ahmad protected her account so that only those carefully vetted by her can view her tweets. The cowardly racists likely recognized that their social media postings could adversely impact future employment and therefore, hurriedly rushed to cover their tracks. Fortunately however, their posts have been archived and preserved for all to see.
The salient question however, is why did MTSU officials fail to address the issue and take disciplinary action against the offenders and what if any action was taken against MTSU’s MSA chapter? Presumably, publicly calling for the death of a group of people because of their ethnicity would violate some provision of the University’s code of conduct and trigger some disciplinary action.
I posed this question in an email to University president, Sidney McPhee who responded with the following;
McPhee’s banal explanations fall flat. The offending comments, which were publicly broadcast, were therefore both threatening and disruptive to the learning environment and thus actionable under the University’s student code of conduct. This would be true even if the students did not post while on campus or otherwise use campus resources to broadcast their hate (It is unclear whether MTSU ever conducted an investigation to determine whether University resources were used to disseminate hate speech). MTSU’s student code of conduct extends jurisdiction to off campus malfeasance, “when the conduct impairs, interferes with, or obstructs any Institutional activity or the mission, processes, and functions of the Institution.”At Middle Tennessee State University, we emphasize a set of shared values that include honesty and integrity; respect for diversity; engagement in the community; and commitment to reason, not violence. When we say “I am True Blue,” we reaffirm those values.We are aware of recent statements circulating on the Internet regarding social media posts containing anti-Semitic language authored by a currently enrolled student and two former students. It is important to note that our university does not condone or support hateful speech, which we feel is inconsistent with our values. However, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, no matter how abhorrent, just as it guarantees the right of others to object to that speech. Federal privacy laws prohibit the University from disclosing information about specific student-related matters.Also, the Internet statements conflated ties between MTSU’s Muslim Student Association and national organizations. The Muslim Student Association declared in its registration as a student organization that it is not affiliated with a national, state or other off-campus organization. On Wednesday, the organization’s faculty advisor reaffirmed that declaration, disavowed the posts and said the posts are individual acts that do not represent or speak for the organization.
Moreover, there is ample precedent for the University to take disciplinary action against the offenders. Other colleges and universities when confronted with similar or lesser forms of hate speech have invoked disciplinary measures. At Belmont College, a student was expeditiously expelled for posting overtly racist comments on Twitter. At Texas State University, campus police instituted an official investigation following a racist tweet. At Quinnipiac University, a student who posted a racially offensive tweet was expelled following a school investigation. The latter case did not involve any overt threat to person or property.
In the foregoing examples, the victims of the racist comments were African American. MTSU’s victims were Jews. Aside from that, the fact patterns were the same. Yet Belmont, TSU and Quinnipiac all took action whereas MTSU apparently did nothing to remedy or address a very disquieting situation. The troubling question is, why?
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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