- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A group of California college students belonging to the five-school Claremont Consortium says objective truth is a “myth” espoused by white supremacists.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby recently released a statement in defense of free speech after conservative Heather Mac Donald of Manhattan Institute had an event derailed at nearby Claremont McKenna College. His missive was met with a list of demands by minority students who called Ms. Mac Donald “a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state,” and objective truths — as found in the Declaration of Independence — “a means of silencing oppressed peoples.”

“The idea that there is a single truth — ‘the Truth’ — is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain,” the students wrote, The Claremont Independent reported Monday. “This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”

The letter, written by Pomona students Dray Denson, Avery Jonas and Shanaya Stephenson, received 22 co-signatories. Supporters said that shutting down conservative speakers like Ms. Mac Donald is a valid option for activists since such speaking engagements constitute “a form of violence.”

“This is not an argument rooted in Heather’s loss of ‘free speech’ or academic freedom,” the students aid. “She is a well-known public figure, her views are well documented. Rather, our praxis is focused on not allowing her anti-Black platform to be legitimized in front of an audience, which she does not have the right to. Engaging with her, a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state, is a form of violence.”

The students demand that Mr. Oxtoby release a new statement to “the entire student body, faculty, and staff by Thursday, April 20, 2017, apologizing for the previous patronizing statement, enforcing that Pomona College does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples, especially Black students who straddle the intersection of marginalized identities, and explaining the steps the institution will take and the resources it will allocate to protect the aforementioned students.”

Ms. Mac Donald is not a white supremacist. She is an author and contributing editor at the conservative publication City Journal. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other newspapers.

“That shows they haven’t bothered to read any of my writings,” Ms. Mac Donald told The Washington Times when asked for comment.

The author added that the motivation for her recent work is to “try and save black lives that are being lost to increased violence in the inner city.”

“This [letter] shows a failure of education,” Ms. Mac Donald said. “They profoundly misunderstand the purpose of civil discourse. If you want to challenge an existing power structure then you better hope you have ability to express yourself free from government constraints. They believe that they possess the truth and that is the truth of their own alleged oppression at the hands of Pomona.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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