Rutgers pretends it didn’t deplatform a journalist accused of “Isamophobia”, but says it was a “postponement” and yay for free speech

Lisa Daftari is a journalist who is a Jew of Iranian descent, and, well, I’ll give the Wikipedia data to show she’s a credible person to speak at a university:

Lisa Daftari is an investigative journalist focusing on foreign affairs with a focus on the Middle East and counterterrorism. She regularly appears on television and radio with commentary and analysis, providing exclusive reporting on vital developments in the region. Currently, she is an on-air Fox News political analyst and has previously been featured on CBS, NBC, PBS, the Washington Post, NPR, ABC, Voice of America, and others. Lisa also serves as founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Foreign Desk, an international news and U.S. foreign policy news website.

Should somebody like this be deplatformed or banned from speaking? Well, Rutgers University thought so. As I reported a short while back, Daftari was invited by the University to speak, but they then canceled her appearance because of her supposed “Islamophobia”. As Mediaite reported then:

Fox News contributor Lisa Daftari had a speaking engagement cancelled on her by Rutgers University.

Daftari, a Middle East and counterterrorism analyst who was a graduate from Rutgers and an Iranian Jew, was scheduled to speak on “Radicalism on College Campuses,” which would put focus on free speech on college campuses.

However, a student-led petition accused her of Islamophobia, citing this remark she said to the Heritage Foundation as a “small sample of harmful rhetoric.”

“Islamic terror takes its guidance and teachings from the Quran, which is Sharia law.”

Actually, her quote was this, which isn’t quite the same;

“Islamic terror, as we know, claims to take its teachings and its guidance from the Quran, which is Sharia law.”

Proof? Here’s the recording:

Regardless, the quote happens to be true, and is critical of Islamic terrorism, not Muslims or even Islam in general. And despite that, Rutgers gave Daftari the boot.

Later on, Rutgers issued a statement saying they “postponed” her visit (without giving a reason, which of course was because there was student pushback), and making lip-service noises to free speech. But it wasn’t a postponement in the first place; it was a cancellation, pure and simple:

See Daftari’s claim on Fox News that she was told by Rutgers it would be called a “postponement” for public relations reasons, but really was a cancellation.

After reading Rutgers’s weaselly statement, I wrote to both the President of Rutgers and its director of public relations objecting to this deplatforming (you can see my letter here), and heard back from both offices. Their letters were nearly identical, and neither admitted that they disinvited Daftari, a graduate of Rutgers. You can see the musteline responses below.

Dear Professor Coyne,

Thank you for your message about the postponement of the Rutgers–New Brunswick event organized by Undergraduate Academic Affairs at which alumna Lisa Daftari was to speak.  We appreciate having your viewpoint on this matter.  As you may have learned, the University has written to Ms. Daftari in the hope of rescheduling the event and has proposed several possible dates for her to come to campus in November.  We are also aware that student groups at Rutgers may have also invited her to speak on campus.

We welcome the free exchange of ideas and hope that Ms. Daftari will ultimately agree to speak on one of the proposed new dates, or on another mutually agreeable date, if her schedule permits.  Please see below for Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui’s invitation to Ms. Daftari, which was sent early Monday afternoon.

Sincerely,
Michael Meagher
Office of the President

And here’s the letter they enclosed which they sent to Daftari:

Dear Lisa:

I want to write to clear up any confusion regarding your invitation to speak at the University.  To the degree that I may have contributed to the confusion, I hope you will accept my apology.

Please know that Rutgers values the free and open exchange of all viewpoints and that you are welcome to speak here.  I understand, in fact, that you may have been invited by student groups to speak at the University as well as the event that was scheduled for tomorrow night.

With respect to rescheduling the event sponsored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs, I would like to propose the following dates for an appearance at the Rutgers New Brunswick campus:

  • Wednesday, November 14
  • Monday, November 19
  • Monday, November 26
  • Wednesday, November 28

I am certain that in the course of your comments and follow-up questions from our students, your views will be fully articulated and will generate respectful and vigorous discussion both by those who agree and those who disagree with those views.

Our position on the free exchange of ideas is clear; the ability to respectfully present, discuss and debate matters in the public interest is at the heart of what every great university does.  Such free and respectful discussion is fundamental to Rutgers’ core values and is practiced every day at Rutgers.

Please let me know if any of these dates can be accommodated in your schedule.

Sincerely,

Ben

Daftari didn’t take this lying down, but responded in an article in the Jewish Journal (click on the screenshot to read it). She also notes that the University refuses to admit it canceled her event.

An excerpt from the article:

In a text message to the Journal, Daftari called the timing of Sifuentes-Jáuregui’s email “curious” and that it “only further supports the truth of what happened. She sent the Journal her response to his email “since the university felt it necessary to share our correspondence publicly without my knowledge.”

“With all due respect, in all our previous correspondence and communication, it was clear that the university unilaterally decided to cancel the event,” Daftari wrote to Sifuentes-Jáuregui. “To come back after the damage has been done to my reputation and suggest that this was some misunderstanding and to continue with the premise that the event was merely postponed, lacks the integrity and respect that I would have hoped from my alma mater.”

Daftari said, “Just as the university was sensitive to the concerns of a group of students who slandered my good name based on falsified quotes, I would hope that the university would now demonstrate the same level of consideration as we move on.”

I’ve written back to the President and office of public affairs, asking them to be straight with me and tell me whether or not they disinvited Daftari, and why. Needless to say, I didn’t get a response.

Put Rutgers in the “censorious university” column.

Lisa Daftari

 

16 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Possibly they think that since Trump gets by with this type of reversal, now you see it now you don’t, no one would question their change of mind.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    If I follow the close sequence of events correctly, Rutgers deplatformed her but they got push-back. So now they are backpedaling while trying to save face by saying it was .. er … postponed.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted October 18, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      They saw the error of their ways, or the push-back, and try to save face now by calling it a postponement, so much is clear.
      I still hope Ms Daftari will take up their offer and chooses to speak on one of the proposed dates.
      BTW, why is ‘weasily’ or ‘musteline’ used for a cowardly attitude? Weasels and other mustelids are fearless and fearsome fighters, nothing cowardly about them, I’d say.

      • Posted October 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Sneaky and slippery rather than cowardly. “ Weasel words” are evasive and ambiguous, not poltroonish. Weasels are slippery critters.

      • TJR
        Posted October 19, 2018 at 2:32 am | Permalink

        You’re right, this is clearly mustelophobic language, and the government should ban it.

      • Adam M.
        Posted October 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, she should keep telling everyone about their duplicity while taking them up the postponement offer to make them follow through.

  4. Posted October 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    That Rutgers is scrambling now is a good sign. Not so long ago they wouldn’t have even pretended.

  5. Posted October 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  6. Posted October 18, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I am wondering why anyone doubts their (the university personnel) word. After all, when people at Harvard denied that Warren’s claim to be a Native American, it was simply assumed they must be telling the truth, and that no-one would deny doing something it might embarrass them to admit they did.

    • josh
      Posted October 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s almost like they are two unrelated cases with wildly different circumstances and evidence.

      • Posted October 18, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        And yet no evidence cited! It was like, in the Warren case, it was just taken as a given.

  7. Posted October 19, 2018 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  8. peepuk
    Posted October 20, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    I would say if people are “claiming to take guidance and teachings from the Quran”, means exactly the same as “take guidance and teachings from the Quran”( at least if they aren’t lying).

    Claiming that IS is does not take guidance and teachings from the Quran is the same as claiming that the Pope isn’t taking guidance and teachings from the Bible.


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