Was it something I said, Professor?
The circus has folded its tent for the year, mercifully. UC Irvine's annual May extravaganza, where the Muslim Student Union brings in the usual speakers to attack Israel wound up last night as two professors, one from UCLA and one from UC Irvine repeated the same stuff that is said every year about Israel and the poor Palestinians. Last night, it was Prof. Robin Kelley of UCLA and Sohail Daulatzai from UCI. The audience consisted of about 50 students, mostly all MSU members listening to the same old stuff they had been listening to all week and the previous years.
Kelley talked for a few minutes about traveling to Israel last year with a group of other professors as part of a "fact-finding" team (my words not his) sponsored by one of those pro-boycott groups. As he spoke, the big screen showed a series of slides of Palestinian villages, which didn't exactly remind me of Geneva. Oh well. I'm not sure what the point was.
Then Sohail Daulatzai spoke and told of how the Israelis refused to allow him into their country when he arrived at the airport.
During the presentation, Daulatzai periodically inserted references to all the "similar things" that were happening here in America while attacking Israel's human rights record (I am paraphrasing). He referred to the US-Mexico border, the inner city, and other US issues; human rights, social justice, blah blah blah, woof woof woof, quack quack quack.. A couple of times, he referred to little ol' me sitting in the audience and filming. At one point, he waved at me. I waved back.)
If you want to punish yourself by watching the video, be my guest. Suffice to say the fun began during the q and a. (First there was a moderated q and a where the moderator posed about 4 questions to the panel. Then audience members were allowed to come to the mic, ask a respectful question pertinent to the topic and return to their seats like good little clones before the question would be answered. No follow-ups desired, you see).
My question regarded Malcolm X, (whom Daulatzai had mentioned) and was directed to him. I referred him to a recent (virulently anti-American article he had written for Al Jazeera on Malcolm. I read the following sentence from the article to him and the audience:
"....To ignore this falls into the worst forms of liberal internationalism that presume the US to be a force for good in the world, and it replicates the very problem that Malcolm X heroically against, and was ultimately killed for."
Talk about truthers!
I continued that I was a young man in this country when Malcolm was killed, that he was murdered by the Nation of Islam because he had left the Nation, had publicly criticized it, and had exposed the corruption and sexual abuses of Elijah Mohammed. I then returned to the article in its entirety, which I described as virulently anti-American and asked him which he hatred most-Israel or America. The article is linked below. I invite the reader to judge the tone of the article. The above quote is on the last page just prior to the conclusion.
Of course, I got derisive laughter from the audience. A young lady waiting in line behind me smiled at me and clapped as I returned to my seat. A friendly face, I thought. Boy, was I to be surprised. Here is the video of the event from the beginning until the point where I left. My exchange with Daulatzai begins around the 10;30 mark of the 4th video.
Meanwhile, all the flowers in the room died when I finished my question. Daulatzai was not amused. In his response ( I am paraphrasing), he referred to me as one who had written a previous article about him and asked me to confirm I was the writer. I replied from my seat that it could have been, but I wasn't sure which article he was referring to. He then went on to describe the article as having been written about what he said at an earlier event at UCI even though I wasn't present. (He was referring to Muslim Awareness week earlier this year when he was one of the speakers, but I wasn't able to attend.) I responded that to my recollection I had only written about his background not what he said. Below is the article in question. I think it conclusively shows that I did not comment on the content of Daulatzai's talk (only the announced title), but that I wrote about his previous writings and statements about the US, which I take exception to. So he misstated the facts to the audience.
(I stand by everything I wrote in that article.)
Anyway, Daulatzai bitterly rebuked me for making "ad hominem attacks" against him. He questioned the propriety of one teacher at a university writing such an article about another and added rather ominously, "Duly noted", whatever that meant. As to the Malcolm X quote, he pointed out all the information about how US state agencies had been targeting and monitoring him. He acknowledged that "black hands had pulled the trigger", but that there were other forces at work and that I should do more research into this as opposed to researching him (Daulatzai). In referring to the question of which country he hated more. He ended by saying that he thought that if I did said research, I would answer my own question. I replied that he had, indeed, answered the question. (Again, I am paraphrasing. The reader may view the video.)
Then the aforementioned young lady stepped to the mic. I thought she was going to ask a critical question, but instead she identified herself as a Palestinian (not a student) and proceeded to tell the audience they were going to want to listen to what she had to say. She then launched into an impassioned speech complimenting the panel and telling them to keep up the fight or something to that effect. (It's on the tape). As she continued in her diatribe, her voice rising, I wondered if they would have allowed me to make a long, rambling speech like that.
Instead, they listened intently as she gestured wildly, arms in the air and pointing at the ceiling while she passionately informed us that she was involved in BDS (Boycott Divest and Sanctions) in Turkey and the UK.
I also noticed the lady wasn't wearing any shoes. (Probably, the Israelis took them away from her.) At any rate, I decided that it was a good time to bid adieu to my MSU friends for the year as I hadn't had dinner and listening to the same old drivel works up a hungry appetite. (For all you UC Santa Cruz History of Consciousness and Community Studies majors, adieu means "so long" in French.) So I left as the Barefoot Contessa was still giving her rant. All this time, Daulatzai was seated at the panel table with an angry look on his face.
I will have a closing report and comment on the week's activities in the next day or so. Suffice to say, UCI can now get back to being a pleasant campus for the next 12 mont