You are encouraged to boycott UNC Asheville’s Martin Luther King Jr. [Week] speaker, hatemonger Tamika Mallory. She praises Louis Farrakhan, who [compares] Jews [to termites], and he is also certainly no friend of the LGBTQ community.
A leader of the Women’s March, Mallory uses many platforms from which to further her hate speech. What is the goal of our university in supporting her hatemongering MLK speech held in Lipinsky Auditorium, a building named for a Jewish philanthropist? How insulting, repulsive and painful this must be to many in our community.
Should our public universities encourage anti-Semitism and hatred of anybody? Don’t we have enough of that already, especially now? Isn’t hatred of others the opposite of what MLK Jr. preached? We deserve better treatment than this travesty presents and more responsible spending of our tax dollars.
I encourage supporters of this event in the past to respect Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by not attending this event this year at UNCA on Jan. 24. Speak up against class, racial, gender and religious hatred and those who promote it. Join the protesters outside.
— Janet Burhoe-Jones
Editor’s note: Mallory did not reply to emails asking her to respond to specific points raised in the letter. The New York Times noted in a Dec. 23 article that Mallory has called Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan (who has been making anti-Semitic remarks for years) “the GOAT” or “greatest of all time” on social media, while also reporting that Mallory and a fellow Women’s March organizer “categorically condemn anti-Semitism.”
A column Mallory wrote last March, before Farrakhan’s “termite” comment, explained her presence at a Nation of Islam event adding: “I was raised in activism and believe that as historically oppressed people, Blacks, Jews, Muslims and all people must stand together to fight racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. … It is impossible for me to agree with every statement or share every viewpoint of the many people who I have worked with or will work with in the future.”
Sarah Broberg, special assistant to the chancellor for communication and marketing at UNC Asheville, responded that the university has been in talks with members of the campus community, the greater Asheville community and local rabbinical leaders about additional opportunities for public discussion related to Mallory’s appearance. That includes the organization Carolina Jews for Justice, which posted a statement on its website last week (avl.mx/5kp).
“There’s been a lot of community feedback about this and … based on that feedback, we’ve made a concerted effort to engage with the community and hear all of the views and work together to provide some additional context to the activities that are taking place over the course of that week,” Broberg told Xpress.
The university also issued a statement on its website from Chancellor Nancy J. Cable and interim Provost Karin Peterson, which says in part: “The Constitutional and democratic principles of freedom of thought and expression are central to our mission as a university, especially during the day honoring the legacy and enduring values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As has been our custom, the university’s invitation to an individual speaker at a university event in no way implies endorsement of that speaker’s comments, critiques, views, ideas or actions. Further, the university’s fundamental principles reject bias in all of its forms including anti-Semitism and discrimination. …
“At their best, universities are places where thoughtful discussions and respectful disagreements can take place. Students, faculty, staff and the community benefit from conversations, lectures and roundtables that strengthen our ability to think critically and to judge independently. …”
See also “Remembering King: Annual Prayer Breakfast to Feature Green of the Little Rock Nine” in this issue for more info about local events centered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.