We recently discussed the racist and violent remarks of New York psychiatrist Aruna Khilanani, who was featured by Yale Medical School. Khilanani launched into a tirade against white people and delivered such remarks as how she often thought of “unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way.” After weeks of intense criticism, Yale has added a disclaimer to the video.
In the speech, Khilanani repeatedly denounced white people as a race: “This is the cost of talking to white people at all — the cost of your own life, as they suck you dry… There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.” She discussed how she dreams of killing white people:
“I systematically white-ghosted most of my white friends, and I got rid of the couple white BIPOCs [Black and Indigenous people and people of color] that snuck in my crew, too. … 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 favor.”
The addition of a disclaimer was rather belated since Yale officials were fully aware of the content of the video and seem to have tried to restrict access. Indeed, Khilanani previously objected to the failure to publicly release her remarks.
Yale Child Study Center Director of Medical Studies Dr. Andres Martin was listed as “course director” for the talk. Indeed, Martin and others were fully aware of the content since April 6 and saw no need for a disclaimer. Moreover, Khilanani did not hide the thrust of her remarks in the title: “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind.” It was a particularly glaring title for remarks to Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center.
Khilanani later mocked Yale for pretending to suddenly discover the content of her remarks. She told the Times “They knew the topic, they knew the title, they knew the speaker.” She further insisted that she was “speaking metaphorically about my own anger was a method for people to reflect on negative feelings. To normalize negative feelings. Because if you don’t, it will turn into a violent action.”
Now, after widespread condemnation, Yale has added this disclaimer:
“This video contains profanity and imagery of violence. Yale School of Medicine expects the members of our community to speak respectfully to one another and to avoid the use of profanity as a matter of professionalism and acknowledgment of our common humanity. Yale School of Medicine does not condone imagery of violence or racism against any group.”
The fact is that most such extremist comments are often tolerated (even celebrated) on the left in criticism of whites, males, conservatives, libertarians, or the Republican party. The problem is not that extreme views are allowed on campuses but the sharply different response to such comments from the left as opposed to the right. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments denouncing police, calling for Republicans to suffer, strangling police officers, celebrating the death of conservatives, calling for the killing of Trump supporters, “detonating and gassing white people,” supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.
Universities have been far more aggressive in sanctioning comments from the right. A conservative North Carolina professor faced calls for termination over controversial tweets and was pushed to retire. Dr. Mike Adams, a professor of sociology and criminology, had long been a lightning rod of controversy. In 2014, we discussed his prevailing in a lawsuit that alleged discrimination due to his conservative views. He was then targeted again after an inflammatory tweet calling North Carolina a “slave state.” That led to his being pressured to resign with a settlement. He then committed suicide.
The media shows the same bias. This week I noted, on the anniversary of the Cotton controversy at the New York Times, that the newspaper recently published a professor who defended the murder of conservative protesters. It previously ran a column by “Beijing’s enforcer” in the crackdown on democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Yale’s disclaimer is belated but welcomed. However, it does not address the growing view of intolerance on our campuses. It took weeks to get Yale to even disassociate itself from these remarks after promoting Khilanani. Such a delay would never have occurred with a speaker holding opposing views because that person would never have been given an opportunity to speak at Yale. Imagine what would have occurred if you inserted any other race into these remarks in declaring “This is the cost of talking to [Black or Brown] people at all — the cost of your own life, as they suck you dry… There are no good apples out there. [Black or Brown] people make my blood boil.” We would have all denounced the remarks as racist and inflammatory. Yale would not have disclaimed them but removed them and ordered a full and expedited investigation.
As I stated before, I believe that there is a value to having such speakers on campus. The problem is the demonstrably different treatment given speakers based on their viewpoints.