July 28, 2010 | 10:43 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
When it comes to UC Irvine’s one-year suspension of its incessantly unruly and antagonistic Muslim Student Union, spurred by the coordinated disturbance of a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States, a coalition of civil rights groups and professional bar associations (the legal kind, not the drinking kind) say the punishment doesn’t fit the crime:
Fifteen groups throughout the country – including the Asian Law Caucus, Afghan-American Bar Association, Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, South Asian Bar Association – Northern California and National Lawyers Guild – are urging UCI officials to abandon all efforts to suspend the Muslim student organization.
“Taking the unprecedented step to ban this group will memorialize UCI as a campus that violates its students’ constitutional rights, and will have negative repercussions that will reverberate around the country,” according to a letter signed by the groups and sent to the chancellor’s office late last week.
“Such a decision would amount to selective punishment of a group whose ideas are disfavored by the U.C. administration, and sets an extremely dangerous precedent that threatens all Americans who exercise their Constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.”
Oh how oversimplified that is. The MSU has a long, long, long history of incendiary behavior, and for years the university and community have wrestled with how to make students of all beliefs and worldviews feel comfortable on campus.
UCI has cut the group a lot of slack. But this time—as opposed to when MSU members exploited Anne Frank during Palestinian Awareness Week, or all the times they brought Amir Abdel Malik Ali to campus, or when they orchestrated a Daniel Pipes walkout and one of the protesters proclaimed “Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth”—they crossed the line. They violated a code of conduct that all students agree to, and they aren’t being banned. Their organization has just been suspended for a year. It happens to fraternities all the time.
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