Professor Suspended After Denying Canada is a Racist Country and Criticizing BLM

Mount Allison University Professor Rima Azar feels a strong identification to Canada. Born in Lebanon during a civil war, Azar developed a lasting appreciation for the freedoms of Canada, particularly free speech. An accomplished academic in the field of health psychology, she often discusses her views of political and social issues on her  personal blog Bambi’s Afkar from her unique perspective. However, she recently ran afoul of an individual who spotted comments denying that Canada is a racist country and criticizing Black Lives Matter as an organization.  The individual compiled an array of what was viewed to be objectionable positions and triggered a movement to have Azar fired. In a direct attack on free speech and academic freedom, the University then suspended Azar without pay.

According to  the CBC, after months of investigation, Azar will not have to go through “equity, diversity and inclusion training” for her expressing such thoughts on a personal blog. The grounds? Azar was cited by students as “denying systemic racism,” “talking about BIPOC students in unkind ways” and “labelling Black Lives Matter a radical group,” among other transgressions. These improper thoughts include stating “[New Brunswick] is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have ‘systemic’ racism or ‘systemic’ discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world.”

That is a statement that should generate considerable debate and passion on a college campus. That is what higher education once valued in fostering a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives. The response of the students of Mount Allison was to seek to silence and punish Azar rather than respond to her views.  To the shock of some academics, like Mark Mercer, head of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, the University caved to the demands and suspended Azar. The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship has also supported Azar against her university.

The targeting of Azar began when she disagreed with local activist Husoni Raymond who denounced New Brunswick as “systemically racist.” Raymond stated in response that it is “[d]isappointing to see a professor who’s still ignorant to what racism is and will be using her power within the institution to uphold racists ideologies. Racism IS in Canada. Racism IS in NB.”
[Notably, Azar was not arguing that there was no racism in Canada but that the country is not “systematically racist,” a point of distinction that has produced other controversies in academia].

Azar then responded to Raymond by saying:

“NB is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have ‘systemic’ racism or ‘systemic’ discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world.

Oh, one quick question to Mr. Husoni Raymond: Upon your graduation from St. Thomas University, you have been named the 2020 recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy for your ‘strong leadership and character’ … If NB is as racist as you are claiming, would one of its prestigious universities be honouring you like that?”

Azar also disagreed with statements that Canada remains a “patriarchy” afflicted by rape culture. She suggested that people like her from the Middle East have seen “real rape culture” and perhaps readers might want to consider “ISIS practices in Syria.” She also said that BLM is a radical organization, which is a view shared by many and contested by many others.

We recently discussed the case of a police officer who was fired for calling BLM members “terrorists” in personal postings. Twitter recently censored criticism of a BLM founder and we have been discussing the targeting of professors who voice dissenting opinions about the Black Lives Matter movement, police shootings, or aspects of the protests around the country from the University of Chicago to Cornell to Harvard to other schools. Students have also been sanctioned for criticism BLM and anti-police views at various colleges. Even a high school principal was fired for stating that “all lives matter.”  Each of these controversies raise concerns over the countervailing statements against police or Republicans or other groups.

I am admittedly a free speech dinosaur.  I believe in largely unfettered free speech, particularly for statements made off campus or outside of a classroom. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements. We previously wrote about academic freedom issues at University of Rhode Island due to its Director of Graduate Studies of History Erik Loomis, who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence.

My greatest concern is the conflicted positions on free speech that emerge from these cases. Universities generally do not take similar actions when faculty or students denounce other organizations like the Republican Party or the NRA as terrorists or murderers. They do not take action against those who write racist attacks on white people or sexist attacks on males, as discussed above. The result is not just the sanctioning of faculty for exercising free speech but the biased application of such measures based on the content of such speech.

In a memo sent to faculty, staff and students on Tuesday, Mount Allison’s communications director Robert Hiscock said that “[o]ver the past two months, an independent investigator has reviewed complaints from students alleging discriminatory conduct, stemming from blog posts and student interactions.” However, he said that the findings remain confidential and cannot be discussed. Azar should consider sending a letter asking for the full report to be made public and waiving the right to confidentiality. Otherwise, her reputation will continue to be attacked without any ability to address the allegations in public fully and transparently. For example, there is an allegation that Azar improperly referred to particular students by name in her criticism. However, we do not know if those students previously made their names public in exchanges with or criticism of Azar. There is a major difference between spontaneously criticizing a student who has not spoken publicly and responding to a student who has elected to participate in a public debate by name.

Azar now has a GoFundMe campaign to assist her in the coming legal challenge.

37 thoughts on “Professor Suspended After Denying Canada is a Racist Country and Criticizing BLM”

  1. Gary Saul Morson, the Historian, has written some of the best comparative analyses of Leninists and the current Leftist-Leninists. “Leninthink” is a good place to start.

  2. One of the tenets of woke ideology is intimidation of its critics. This is because their ideas are transparently indefensible.

  3. The irony is that most African-Canadians residing in that part of the country are descendants of refugees from the U.S. who escaped by means of the Underground Railway. New Brunswick was a terminus for the Underground Railway, and now the ungrateful descendants of those escapees accuse it of systemic racism.

  4. This teacher should sue for $1 billion in damages for slander and defamation of character.

    1. Seems like you have never set foot outside of an English speaking country. It is a terrible human condition found everywhere.

  5. Like your column —
    Yes, I think we are afflicted with mass group think herd psychology — and it’s just a religion (belief in Stories and Models, not DATA).
    And even the most intelligent can follow this religion because it is “right” and “good”.

  6. While one could go on and on citing examples of liberals and leftists violating free speech, at some point the underlying dynamic should be discussed. The reason for all these “conflicted positions” — where liberals seem to protect free speech when it affects them, and trample on it when it affects conservatives — is that this battle isn’t really about speech, free or otherwise. It’s about power, and liberals/leftists are telling us that they will violate any laws, rules or norms to maintain power. And this isn’t about being conflicted — they aren’t at all conflicted because they know exactly what their goal is: power, dominance, hegemony. The question is, how long will the rest of society remain silent and docile while Democrats destroy the fabric of this country?

      1. Frayed around the edges–the East and West Coasts mostly, a few morh-eaten holes here and there, but not completely destroyed. Enough left to freshen it up after some good hemming and darning.

  7. This is a Canadian university. Sadly, Canada has very weak protection for speech. It doesn’t even have the flimsy parchment (at this point) of 1A.
    I see their admin address has been taken down. Emails bounce right back.

  8. The 1st Amendment freedom of speech is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute.

    America is a nation of laws, not a nation of malevolent accusations and fanciful hypotheses.

    No court has any authority to legislate, “interpret” legislation, or to modify legislation or the “manifest tenor” thereof.

    The freedom of speech shall not be abridged.

    It may be a crime to speak a false claim of authority or to falsely endanger through speech.

    It may be actionable to defame through speech.

    The freedom of speech shall not be abridged.

    That any and all speech shall not be abridged is the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution, and any and all abridgement of speech must be declared void by the judicial branch.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing … To deny this would be to affirm … that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

    – Alexander Hamilton
    _________________

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  9. Professor Turley, a comment like this “I am admittedly a free speech dinosaur” is not funny nor is it lawyerly. Why not lawyerly? Its at odds with your standard (and correct) argument. Don’t deflect and self-protect like this is a light and comedic issue. And please don’t worry about the next and incoming Leftwing punch to the jaw. Its gonna happen. Get over it, Entirely. This issue is one of extreme seriousness. Freedom, including its voice, free speech, is in the fight of it’s life. On the other hand, if you really do think FS is just an old fashioned idea that you cant get out of your old fashioned head and that’s why you say all this old fashioned stuff then maybe retirement is in order. Stay the course.

  10. Professor Turley, a comment like this “I am admittedly a free speech dinosaur” is not funny nor is it lawyerly. Why not lawyerly? Its at odds with your standard (and correct) argument. Don’t deflect and self-protect like this is a light and comedic issue. And please don’t worry about the next and incoming Leftwing punch to the jaw. Its gonna happen. Get over it, Entirely. This issue is one of extreme seriousness. Freedom, including its voice, free speech, is in the fight of it’s life. On the other hand, if you really do think FS is just an old fashioned idea that you cant get out of your old fashioned head and that’s why you say all this old fashioned stuff then maybe retirement is in order.

  11. Free speech for me , but not for thee. What a shame. The closing of the mind. Thinking is not allowed. God help the young.

  12. I have ‘splained before, but I must ‘splain again. “Colleges” and “universities” no longer exist. They have been replaced by Leftist Indoctrination Entities (“LIEs”). Once you understand this basic principle, you understand that this purported “educational” institution is simply another LIE. Thus, all of the policies and practices of the Leftist Indoctrination Entities make perfect sense and are completely predictable. And there is no need to post any more articles about this “university” or that “college” firing employees for telling the truth. They’re not “universities” or “colleges.” They’re LIEs. “One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”–Henry David Thoreau.

  13. It’s time to face reality – The United States, Canada and many European countries have been taken hostage by blacks and other minorities, most with or working on degrees in bogus studies such as “African studies” who have no clue but use so-called “racism” as a political weapon.

  14. The trolls haven’t fallen off of mom’s couch yet, so let’s just go ahead and start the debate:
    (1) The trolls will claim that she is a racist for denying systemic racism.
    (2) The trolls will claim that Professor Turley ignores their more-pressing issues.
    (3) The trolls will claim that she may be a crank and was possibly suspended for unstated reasons.

    With regard to point (1), the trolls support reverse racism; they are the racists.
    With regard to point (2), John Oliver spouts their racism already; JT is equal time.
    With regard to point (3), the specific charge against her is racism. The burden of proof should be on them, not her, to prove that she is making racist comments. I suspect she is actually guilty of violating THEIR RACISM, and I’ll defend her right of free speech until the trolls can prove otherwise.

  15. Those who are professors should not talk. Or write. Or think. They make your fingers stink.

  16. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing police, calling for Republicans to suffer, strangling police officers, celebrating the death of conservatives, calling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.

    JT, nothing you’ve reported that Azar has said is remotely similar to those statements.

  17. Thes3 stories get more sickening and more numerous every day. Monument above mentioned the new McCarthyism of the left and it is worse than anything that happened in the 1950s. In the 50s a member of the state department would be actively working for the Soviets and the left would defend the traitor for 40 years. If you don’t believe me read about Algier Hiss and the left’s lies about him until we actually got Soviet records. Now any conservative that speaks his or her mind will be terminated from any job they hold even though their comments are totally benign and frankly true.

    Sady, because I love this blog, we will now get an avalanche of comments from some guy called Anonymous who will yell at Turley, complain about Trump and will then proceed to do so 50 or 60 times virtually ruining the comments section.

    1. HB

      Anonymous seems to be pathological in his posting.

      Anonymous is a boring stalker.

      The only answer is to ignore and move past any posts with that name.

      Left him talk to himself.

    2. It is called “thread jacking” and is used to divert the discussion away from the points that are being made in the original essay often through the liberal use of ad hominem attacks. Ignoring the rants of trolls is often the best response. A variation on the sign often posted in zoos is a good image to keep in mind: Do Not Feed the Trolls

    3. “will then proceed to do so 50 or 60 times virtually ruining the comments section.”

      There are only 22 comments to this particular posting and only four of them were posted anonymously.

      1. “an avalanche of comments from some guy called Anonymous”

        lol

        hullbobby is a seer /sarc

  18. The Lefties have ramped up the politics of personal destruction.

    Takes a person of tremendous courage to speak up in a work environment. The costs are prohibitive.

    Up to those of us who are retired, unemployed, or who can afford conflict to speak up.

    This story encapsulates why I feel such contempt for the Lefty trolls who deny that we have a problem.

    Those enablers of the McCarthy left whine about Trump and complain that Turley doesn’t attack Fox News.

    But they stay quiet about outrages like this.

    I have particular contempt for the various “Anonymous” posters with their “I was the Anonymous at 12:06” post.

    Nobody except you cares.

    Guys get a name and quit taking oxygen when important things are happening.

    1. Just wait until they make you sign a loyalty oath before getting Social Security, Medicare, or a pension.

  19. That old Saw about ignoring others being taken away until one day it happens to oneself f has far more truth to it than most understand.

    As we have seen the Leftists do not tolerate any….I repeat…ANY dissenting opinions or debate that goes against their doctrine.

    Even those on the Left who fall out of step are immediately attacked by their own brethren.

    There is a message in this for all of us.

    We must end the intolerance and restore the ability to debate issues not just in our Universities and Colleges…but in our entire Education System and our professional live or private lives.

    Our Nation was built upon Compromise that followed a bitter bloody war for freedom….we must not surrender to the Left on this.

    Contribute to that GoFundMe account and others as well who are fighting for Free Speech.

    Support, campaign for, and vote for political candidates that support Free Speech and other Freedoms and Rights afforded us by means of the Constitution.

    1. I agree completely Ralph. So do these flag officers. Check out their letter and spread it like wildfire.

      More than 120 retired flag officers are calling on Americans to rally and reject the nation’s excessive embrace of a radical leftist agenda, particularly the “antiracism” efforts the left weaponizes to suppress dissent.

      “Our nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776,” wrote the prominent group of 124 retired generals and admirals. “The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.”
      https://thefederalist.com/2021/05/10/more-than-120-retired-flag-officers-call-on-americans-to-save-america-our-constitutional-republic-and-hold-those-currently-in-office-accountable/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the_federalist_daily_briefing_2021_05_10&utm_term=2021-05-10

    2. I have said for years that public school teachers have been brainwashing students to hate their white race and hate the USA. Parents largely have no idea what is being taught in schools. The worst part is that older old-time liberals could be speaking out against this censorship and wokeness garbage and largely don’t do it. Joe Biden seems like a wind-up doll being fed lines to say. The USA aids finished. We had a good 245 year run. Demographics is destiny and we have seen how the demographics of the USA have greatly changed.

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