We previously discussed the ongoing controversies over former Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee, who made highly unprofessional and sensational remarks throughout the Trump presidency. The school eventually got rid of Lee but seems to have found another even more controversial substitute as a speaker in psychiatrist Dr. Aruna Khilanani. The New York-based doctor was invited to Yale School of Medicine in April to deliver an address which turned out to be a violent, racist diatribe, including saying that she often thought of “unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way.”
The audio of the talk was placed on substack by former New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss. Khilanani previously complained that Yale had restricted access to her speech and demanded that it be made public. Yale Child Study Center Director of Medical Studies Dr. Andres Martin was listed as “course director” for the talk.
Khilanani launched into an attack of all white people as a monolithically ignorant, delusional, and hateful group. Early on, she offers a telling self-diagnosis: “We are calm, we are giving, too giving, and then when we get angry, they use our responses as confirmation that we’re crazy or have emotional problems.” She insisted “Nothing makes me angrier than a white person who tells me not to be angry, because they have not seen real anger yet.”
Khilanani then gives a chilling observation. After noting that she stopped watching news because it upset her too much, she noted “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f–king favor.”
Khilanani encouraged the audience to stop speaking with white people because they have are incapable of dealing with their racism and refuse to admit that they are all racists.
“White people are out of their minds, and they have been for a long time … White people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. . . We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath. We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen…They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.”
Khilanani was brought in by Yale to share her thoughts on “decoding white people” and explain how white people are useless to speak to (despite the white people in her audience).
Khilanani is an example of a growing number of writers and academics spewing anti-white sentiments while dismissing any criticism as white insecurity or privilege. Elie Mystal, writer for Above the Law and The Nation’s justice correspondent, for example, lashed out at “white society” and how he strived to maintain a “whiteness free” life in the pandemic. A seminary professor recently publicly prayed “Dear God, Please help me to hate White people” and to overcome any lingering concern for them. Even students are voicing such views. We recently discussed a Miami law student writing about her “hate for white people.” It is not hard to imagine what would be the response if such statements were made about a different race.
I have long defended such statements as protected by free speech principles and I feel the same way about Khilanani’s speech. This is a viewpoint that should be discussed and debated. In the past, I have defended extremist views on academic freedom grounds lie those of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (Loomis also writes for the site “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”) 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.
I believe in largely unfettered free speech, particularly for statements made off campus or outside of a classroom. There is a value to having an open intellectual forum including extremist views like those of Loomis and Khilanani. The problem is that universities have shown little tolerance for opposing viewpoints and have often subjected faculty to investigations and sanctions for expressing their viewpoints. 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.
The problem is not the tolerance shown speakers like Khilanani but the intolerance shown opposing viewpoints. Indeed, it is rare for such conservative or libertarian speakers to be invited to these conferences or campus events. Yale clearly wanted to feature Khilanani and her “decoding whiteness” viewpoints. The question is whether it will now offer a speaker who will decode Khilanani and whether she is herself an example of violent and racist ideations.