Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A national conservative organization today called on George Washington University to expel students who admitted targeting the group in a hoax that covered the campus with hundreds of anti-Muslim posters.

“Vicious personal attacks levied on students are intolerable, and should not go unpunished,” Ron Robinson, president of the Young America’s Foundation, wrote to GW President Steven Knapp.

In a letter (downloads PDF) obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Robinson cited a statement Monday by GW Student Association Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger, who said he “would support expulsion” of students responsible for distributing the “heinous” posters.

YAF was the target of posters diplayed around the university’s Foggy Bottom campus Monday that proclaimed “Hate Muslims? So Do We!”

Muslim students at the university said they felt “attacked” by the posters. A group of seven students — including a nationally known anti-war activist and an officer of the GW Progressive Student Union — admitted responsibility yesterday, saying the hoax was aimed at “exposing Islamophobic racism.”

A student conservative leader said GW officials initially accused his group of publishing the posters, which Mr. Knapp condemned Monday as “reprehensible.”

“We were treated as suspects until the university got all the facts right,” said Sergio Gor, a GW senior and YAF activist. “The only reason we got attacked was because we’re a conservative group.”

Mr. Gor said he was “shocked and appalled” by the posters, which targeted “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” a nationwide event planned later this month by YAF.

In a letter to the Hatchet, a campus newspaper, GW graduate student Adam Kokesh, senior Brian Tierney and five other students claimed credit for the hoax posters, which they called a “creative political action.”

“We exposed the upcoming Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week … for the celebration of racism it is,” the students wrote. “[T]he hyperbolic nature of the [poster] was aimed at exposing Islamophobic racism. … We hope that as a community we can come together to oppose the true racist propaganda that we initially set out to expose.”

Mr. Tierney is a self-proclaimed “socialist” and “revolutionary” whose personal Web site prominently displays Mr. Kokesh as a prominent activist with Iraq Veterans Against the War.

On Monday, GW officials were unequivocal in their condemnation of the posters.

“There is no place for expressions of hatred on our campus. … We do not condone, and we will not tolerate, the dissemination of fliers or other documents that vilify any religious, ethnic, or racial group,” Mr. Knapp said in an official statement.

A GW spokeswoman today declined comment on the students’ admission of responsibility for the hoax.

“We are making progress in the investigation and will have an updated press statement when the investigation is concluded,” said Tracy Schario, director of media relations for the university.

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