“Abolish White People”: Berkeley Faces New Free Speech Controversy

The University of California at Berkeley has been ground zero for some of our most heated fights over free speech. Conservative speakers have been blocked or cancelled. A Berkeley physicist resigned after faculty and students opposed a presentation by a UChicago physicist due to his questioning the impact of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. Faculty and students denounced a history professor who anonymously called for greater academic freedom protections. Now, conservatives are objecting after the discovery of a speech by Berkeley Professor Zeus Leonardo in which he discussed the need “to abolish whiteness.” As will come as little surprise to regulars on the blog, I oppose calls for Leonardo to be fired and believe that this is protected under principles of free speech and academic freedom.  Yet, it is the response of the Berkeley faculty and students that is most notable.

Professor Leonardo teaches at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. The 42-second clip is part of a talk given by Leonardo at the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education at the University of British Columbia in September 2007 and titled “Teaching Whiteness in a Multicultural Context and Color-blind Era.” It has been featured on sites like The College Fix. In the video, Leonardo declared:

“That’s why I am coming up with this recent understanding that to abolish whiteness is to abolish white people. That’s very uncomfortable perhaps, but it asks about our definitions of what race is and what racial justice might mean.”

Conservative sites have previously criticized Leonardo for inflammatory statements, including a guest lecture at George Washington University where I teach. At GWU, Leonardo argued that children are born “human” and then are “bullied” into becoming white: “They were born human. Little by little, they have to be abused into becoming white humans. This abuse is sometimes physical … such as being bullied into whiteness. But also it’s psychological and cultural.”

It seems clear that if a professor made such statements about minorities, there would be an immediate suspension and then termination at schools like Berkeley. However, these controversies have been largely met by silence from the same faculty and students, who campaigned to cancel or fire other academics.

For free speech advocates, the solution is simple. It is all free speech.

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. I also defended the free speech rights of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence.

Even when faculty engage in hateful acts on campus, however, there is a notable difference in how universities respond depending on the viewpoint. At the University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned after she made a single analogy to acting like a “slaveholder” as a self-criticism for failing to achieve equity and reparations for black faculty and students). We also previously discussed the case of Fresno State University Public Health Professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher who recruited students to destroy pro-life messages written on the sidewalks and wrongly told the pro-life students that they had no free speech rights in the matter.

When these controversies arose, faculty rallied behind the free speech rights of the professors. That support was far more muted or absent when conservative faculty have found themselves at the center of controversies. The recent suspension of Ilya Shapiro is a good example. Other faculty have had to go to court to defend their free speech rights.

Another example was the campaign to force a criminology professor named Mike Adams off the faculty of the University of North Carolina (Wilmington). Adams was a conservative faculty member with controversial writings who had to go to court to stop prior efforts to remove him. He then tweeted a condemnation of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper for his pandemic rules, tweeting that he had dined with six men at a six-seat table and “felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina” before adding: “Massa Cooper, let my people go.” It was a stupid and offensive tweet. However, we have seen extreme comments on the left — including calls to gas or kill or torture conservatives — be tolerated or even celebrated at universities.

Celebrities, faculty and students demanded that Adams be fired. After weeks of public pummeling, Adams relented and took a settlement to resign. He then killed himself a few days before his final day as a professor.

The problem is that free speech is under attack from the left with the support of many liberal faculty members and administrators. There is a new orthodoxy that has taken hold at our schools. It is now common to openly engage in content discrimination and for students, including writers at Berkeley, to call for “violent resistance” and speech controls.

The Leonardo controversy highlights the bias shown by universities like Berkeley in responding to controversial speech. The tolerance shown to Leonardo’s exercise of free speech is in striking contrast to the intolerance shown to academics espousing opposing views on race or other issues.

Here is the entire video:

 

 

75 thoughts on ““Abolish White People”: Berkeley Faces New Free Speech Controversy”

  1. In Germany, if you put up a Swastika or start praising Hitler – you can get put in jail and fined. I generally disagree with that tactic but I’m less outraged by it than some snowflakes around these parts. The fact is, about 70% of Americans are White. Talk of “White Genocide” here makes me giggle, especially when its coming from the “give peace a chance” flower-power crowd. For all their talk, how many White guys have been lynched so far? See what I mean?

    . I say let all the Hitler praising right wingers speak their bit, and then respond in a more rational fashion. Even Holocaust denial and the “moon landing conspiracy” folks should not disturb us to the point of violence. Noam Chomsky, a famous socialist and left-wing intellectual, supported the Free Speech rights of one such Holocaust denier, and got all sorts of crap for it from the leftists in France, Israel, and the USA. Don’t make martyrs out of the folks who bombed the churches and houses of Black people during the Civil Rights movement (50 times). And take note that they do have control of “liberal” Wikipedia. Contrast the size of the article on said bombings https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombingham with the size of the article on the Klan and Nazi’s favorite outrage: race-mixing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscegenation. Its the difference between 332 words, and 41,750 words. Do the math.

  2. Turley may not approve of censoring wartime propaganda on the home front, but I would think the military takes a different view. In fact, I would not be surprised if attacking a radio or television studio broadcasting such propaganda is a legitimate enemy target under the rules of warfare. It would seem rather odd that the military can silence the dissemination of propaganda, but Big Brother may not and Little Brother should not silence it before the military can!

    1. I would hope so. Russia is obviously putting out propaganda. Do you think the west isn’t? I want to hear what both sides are saying, even if I don’t particularly trust anyone.

      1. I’m asking what is Turley’s opinion. Propaganda is an effective wartime weapon. Ordinarily, Turley believes that good speech rectifies ALL bad speech. However, in war, bad speech may risk demoralizing the enemy’s fighting spirit which could be catastrophic. I am wondering then whether he makes an exception to his absolutist position in light of the necessities of war.

        1. Jeff, you make a valid point, but I guess when the enemy blows up broadcasting towers, arrests reporters, shuts down broadcast networks and arrests protesters you could say it’s a one sided fight.

          It’s one thing to hear propaganda and recognize it as such. It is ubiquitous. It’s another to silence it’s opposition. To me, that is the fundamental difference.

  3. “Abolish whiteness.”

    Sure. I agree with Turley.

    “Abolish white people.”

    Not so sure. Would Turley still agree if the statement was the abolition of black people or jews?

    Turley has never defended a right wing academic that went this far. I want to hear from Turley, would he defend an academic who called for a second holocaust? Where is his line? And is this line consistent for left wing and right wing academics?

  4. I always give my perspective as a small business owner. Employee public speech that harms an employer’s reputation, profits, or ability to operate can lead to firing.

    UC Berkeley has a niche as a far Left university, so the professor’s public remarks might not impact enrollment. It’s possible that Berkeley administration might say “good riddance” to any right of far Left students who decide not to apply to Berkeley as a direct result. In fact, this professor might be expressing the university’s brand, in making blatantly racist and threatening remarks against white people.

    I would never send my child to Berkeley, because it’s long had a reputation as a far Left indoctrination center. But for any parents still on the fence, do take a look at the sort of faculty and culture on each university campus, before committing the funds you spent years saving. There are still rare universities who prohibit the private feelings of professors from entering the classroom. But for all other universities, you can be assured that professors who voice virulently racist screed against whites and Asians, and androgyny against our boys, will bring that bias into the classroom and grading.

    If a professor was the ultimate authority in any field in the hard sciences, held highly objectionable personal views, but kept those views out of the classroom, then his presence in most cases would be an asset. It’s the professors who bring biases into the classroom, or express threatening viewpoints that bring up safety concerns, who reflect most poorly upon their employers.

  5. Rabid diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), color blocs (e.g. “people of color”), color quotas (e.g. “Jew privilege”), and affirmative discrimination (e.g. “life deemed unworthy of life”). #HateLovesAbortion

  6. “MILQUETOAST BLEEDING-HEART LIBERALS IN AMERICA HAVE BEEN BAFFLED WITH BULL—-!”
    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Russia extorts the world with nuclear weapons.

    Blacks extort America with threats of violence.

    Blacks are entirely bereft of sufficient cognitive process to best an opponent in a contest of chess and excel, which compels them to extort America with threats and acts of violence: “No justice, no peace.”

    Oh, really. Who says?

    How long would blacks be allowed to extort and threaten Vladimir Putin?
    ________________________________________________________

    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull—-!”

    – W. C. Fields

    1. “James Watson’s most inconvenient truth: race realism and the moralistic fallacy”

      Abstract

      “The preponderance of evidence demonstrates that in intelligence, brain size, and other life-history variables, East Asians average a higher IQ and larger brain than Europeans who average a higher IQ and larger brain than Africans. Further, these group differences are 50-80% heritable. These are facts, not opinions and science must be governed by data. There is no place for the “moralistic fallacy” that reality must conform to our social, political, or ethical desires.”

      – J Philippe Rushton, Arthur R Jensen, National Library of Medicine, 2008 – Ref: Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick

  7. Why not target and destroy the weapons that are being used to destroy Ukrainian civiliization?

    1. They aren’t destroying Ukrainian civilization. They are taking over the land (most of which has a majority of people who speak Russian as their primary language) that was previously agreed to be theirs. Violence is no good, of course- but with a million dead Iraqis in this century and our genocide of nearly 100 million dead native Americans ending in the early 1920s- we aren’t ones to talk. Or rather, we shouldn’t be.

      The Russians prefer a buffer between themselves and NATO countries. Imagine if a huge force led by Russians all parked right on the Mexican and Canadian borders with their guns pointed at the USA. We would get a bit paranoid too. Especially if Russia had already invaded during our civil war. (In fact, they lent 6 large warships, with their crews, to the Union during our Civil War. We invaded their lands and started shooting at the first Soviets during theirs.) The Ambassador that Reagan appointed to Russia (and Bush senior kept), Jack Matlock, says this whole fiasco is on us.

      A quarter century ago, he told the Senate (quote) “I consider the administration’s recommendation to take new members into NATO at this time misguided. If it should be approved by the United States Senate, it may well go down in history as the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War. Far from improving the security of the United States, its Allies, and the nations that wish to enter the Alliance, it could well encourage a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat to this nation since the Soviet Union collapsed.” He wasn’t wrong.

      1. “our genocide of nearly 100 million dead native Americans ending in the early 1920s-“

        Try getting your numbers straight.

  8. Wow, Turley sure loves a good column full of disingenuous innuendo regarding a 42 second clip devoid of any context or a link to the full clip. This only allows the morons and bigots to vent their manufactured rage at a non-existent issue twisted into something that is not what it is. The clip was shared by critical race theory critic Christopher Rufo. The individual responsible for spreading the false narrative of what CRT is.

    The professor’s video clip is from 2007. It’s a 45 min video and Turley only uses a 42 second clip without any context or background on what the whole discussion the professor is engaging in. Now almost every commenter here is obviously and obliviously using the clip as “proof’ about evil lefties engaging in racism or some other stupid grievance. Good grief.

    1. “Dr. Leonardo is also listed as an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Critical Theory Designated Emphasis at UC Berkeley. As part of the Graduate School of Education, the program explores the “root causes and effects of white supremacy and settler colonialism in education,” according to the official website.

      Upon completion, those enrolled will earn a certification of “Designated Emphasis and Specialization in Critical Theory.” The university flaunts critical theory’s association with the Frankfurt School of Economics on its website. The Frankfurt School of Economics was composed of openly Marxist economists whose writings eventually formed the basis for critical race theory.”

      1. Critical race theory wasn’t based on Marxist economists writings. Marxism has nothing to do with CRT.

        1. Marxist writing depends on revolution. Class warfare was what was thought to be the major driver, but according to Marx and Engle, a revolution in another way would be satisfactory as well. Revolution first and followed by the failed and patently ridiculous Marxist economics that has never worked.

          Marxists failed with class warfare. They are now engaged in race warfare. It doesn’t matter which way the nation falls as long as they can get it to fall.

    2. Whatever you think about how Professor Turley presented this issue, don’t conflate it with the statements of Christopher Rufo who is absolutely correct about CRT.

  9. Abolish Berkeley. Outside of its own bubble, it serves very little purpose in modern times. The same goes for St. John’s, Bread Loaf and similar. Why do these institutions even continue to exist when they pretty much serve and know they serve a very tiny segment of people that never leave the bubble? The majority of St. John’s graduates either then teach at St. John’s, write idiotic papers published *by* St. John’s that no one reads, or work regular old lower paying jobs (though do to the inexplicably sky high tuition to attend a course of study that involves reading, not comprehending, and the arguing in class about your inability to understand what you read because you have never had an independent thought or experience in your entire life, their alumni probably never had to face the possibility of ‘work’ anyway). They are the academic equivalent of The Society for Creative Anachronism. Most people don’t care, so just put on the costumes, play in your little fantasy, shoot your little arrows in your pretend game, and leave the rest of us alone. Thanks. Because we don’t. Care, that is. Why do we not consider this cultism at this point?

  10. “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS HAVE NEVER BEEN AMENDED”

    Notwithstanding the illicit, unconstitutional tyranny and despotism of the “Reign of Terror” of Abraham Lincoln, the design and intent of the American Founders persist to this very day.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802 (four iterations)

    United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…

  11. The terminology ‘White’ and ‘White person’ is not clearly defined in today’s United States.
    Is Barack H. Obama white because he is 1/2-white?
    He clearly refers to himself as black, because he is 1/2-black.
    Are the offspring of a black and white couple only black is their skin color is non-white. There are thousands of examples of such offspring passing as white because their melanin happens to be a white tone. Are those folks ‘white people?’

    Or does Mr. Leonardo attach a different meaning to the term ‘white?’ And if so, should he not be required to define his terms?

    Just some food for thought, and hopefully, some sane discussion.

  12. “THESE ARE FACTS, NOT OPINIONS, AND SCIENCE MUST BE GOVERNED BY DATA.”

    Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick discovered DNA.
    _____________________________________________

    “James Watson’s most inconvenient truth: race realism and the moralistic fallacy”

    Abstract

    “Recent editorials in this journal have defended the right of eminent biologist James Watson to raise the unpopular hypothesis that people of sub-Saharan African descent score lower, on average, than people of European or East Asian descent on tests of general intelligence. As those editorials imply, the scientific evidence is substantial in showing a genetic contribution to these differences. The unjustified ill treatment meted out to Watson therefore requires setting the record straight about the current state of the evidence on intelligence, race, and genetics. In this paper, we summarize our own previous reviews based on 10 categories of evidence:

    “The worldwide distribution of test scores; the g factor of mental ability; heritability differences; brain size differences; trans-racial adoption studies; racial admixture studies; regression-to-the-mean effects; related life-history traits; human origins research; and the poverty of predictions from culture-only explanations. The preponderance of evidence demonstrates that in intelligence, brain size, and other life-history variables, East Asians average a higher IQ and larger brain than Europeans who average a higher IQ and larger brain than Africans. Further, these group differences are 50-80% heritable. These are facts, not opinions and science must be governed by data. There is no place for the “moralistic fallacy” that reality must conform to our social, political, or ethical desires.”

    – J Philippe Rushton, Arthur R Jensen, National Library of Medicine, 2008 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18656315/

  13. Why is it still true that high school seniors, and many but not all parents, have such a positive view of getting accepted by, and of attending and getting a degree from, the University of California at Berkeley?

    1. “Why is it still true that high school seniors, and many but not all parents, have such a positive view of getting accepted by, and of attending and getting a degree from, the University of California at Berkeley?”

      Leaving aside the sciences, they do *not* evaluate a university by looking at what is important: curriculum, course content, syllabi, teaching method. Instead, they blindly follow the “US News” rankings.

  14. Dr. Leonardo is also listed as an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Critical Theory Designated Emphasis at UC Berkeley. As part of the Graduate School of Education, the program explores the “root causes and effects of white supremacy and settler colonialism in education,” according to the official website.

    Upon completion, those enrolled will earn a certification of “Designated Emphasis and Specialization in Critical Theory.” The university flaunts critical theory’s association with the Frankfurt School of Economics on its website. The Frankfurt School of Economics was composed of openly Marxist economists whose writings eventually formed the basis for critical race theory.

    https://www.professorwatchlist.org/professor/zeusleonardo

  15. Why not consider the American counter-strike in Guadalcanal as an escalation? A good one, at that?

  16. Zeus’ thesis works the same for all races. Everyone is born human and you are bullied into being black.

  17. “[T]o abolish whiteness is to abolish white people.”

    So what started as race-based affirmative action, ends with calls for ethnic genocide.

    Who could’ve guessed?

    Some people need to read the _Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde_, and grasp that novella’s theme.

  18. Abolish white people. So he has a PhD in racism? Would a grand master of the KKK get to be a professor there as well? A Nazi? Abolishing a race is acceptable to Berkeley?

    1. “Abolishing a race is acceptable to Berkeley?”

      Anything that is anti-individualism, anti-reason, anti-America, anti-human-decency is “acceptable to Berkeley” — and to many other “top” universities.

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