A professor of law at Washington University contends that WashU chancellor, Andrew D. Martin’s statement condemning Fadel Alkilani’s reprehensible acts on 9/11 hurt free speech and expression on campus even more than Alkilani’s “protest.”
Gregory P. Magarian is a law professor at WashU who specializes in the First Amendment. His op-ed in Gateway Journalism Review highlights how “the American flag is a more contentious political symbol now.”
Wash U students put up a display of 2,977 American flags to represent the innocent people murdered by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Professor Magarian finds this to be a “contestable portrayal of 9/11” and contends that this display is something worth protesting, since the 9/11 attacks increased Islamophobia and started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his explanation for why a protest was warranted, he said representing non-American citizen casualties “with American flags is the functional equivalent of marking Jewish or Muslim graves with a cross.”
Magarian also glosses over Alkilani’s actions as a “protest.” The after-the-fact excuses that he was going to label the trash bags with statistics are less than believable—especially considering the fact that even more flags were found inside a trash can nearby the site of the confrontation.
UPDATE: Despite Fadel Alkilani’s claims that he was not throwing away the flags, the conservative student who recorded the initial footage found flags in a trash can nearby the location of his confrontation just this morning. pic.twitter.com/cUsUCB8QTc— YAF (@yaf) September 12, 2021
Magarian says that Alkilani simply went about his “protest” the wrong way, and that the real culprit of demonizing free speech at the school is the school itself. The University, according to Magarian, has “failed to acknowledge and condemn the Islamophobic attacks on Alkilani” and calls the university’s statement out for “victim blaming.”
Finally, he accuses the school’s leadership of endorsing a “political view of 9/11” because the chancellor condemned the destruction of a 9/11 memorial without properly considering that it “might have impeded other individuals’ ability to commemorate their losses and process their trauma.”
If you weren’t already deeply concerned for the state of academia, you should be now. We have seen a sprawling community of professors and students alike at WashU that rejects the American flag and finds excuses for acts of vandalism that fit their world view. This is not a fringe group, this is an overwhelmingly large crowd, and that should terrify you.