NYU Needs to Acknowledge Its Anti-Semitic Problem

Milo Yiannopoulos being invited to speak at NYU speaks to a bigger issue on campus that hasn’t been addressed enough — anti-Semitism.

Abby Hofstetter

I was surprised that LS Professor Michael Rectenwald did not think to cancel white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech to his class, slated to take place barely two weeks after the deadliest recorded attack on Jews on U.S. soil. I was surprised when NYU, an institution that prides itself on its diversity, did not tell Rectenwald that placing students of varying races, religions and sexual orientations in the direct line of a professional troll’s fire is not only inhumane but a gross abuse of power. I was also surprised at how many students I heard excusing Yiannopoulos’ racism, anti-Semitism and comments on pedophilia in the name of the First Amendment. 

Rectenwald was entirely aware that Yiannopoulos visit would be canceled, and that’s the very reason why he invited him. He wanted to show that the left, which prides itself on safe spaces and free speech, isn’t able to handle a self-proclaimed provocateur who simply shares a different worldview.

What so many thought was in the past was made painfully present when Rectenwald decided to further his political agenda with Yiannopoulos’ visit. Not only is anti-Semitism alive and thriving, but by refusing to condemn Yiannopoulos and his hate speech, NYU’s administration is condoning all of the ideas that come with him.

In the tumultuous two years since Donald Trump’s election, a simple pattern has become evident: when hate speech is perpetually propagated with little to no condemnation, imitation inevitably ensues.

Said hate speech being allowed to grow is what propelled a neo-Nazi to murder 11 Jews in Pittsburgh. This, along with President Donald Trump refusing to condemn white supremacy and Kellyanne Conway saying that these people were killed because of an anti-religious sentiment rather than because they were Jewish, is undeniably vile. But this behavior is what I have come to expect of these people.

However, Milo Yiannopoulos is not just part of a political party that NYU’s majority-liberal student body does not share. The speech he delivered in a Facebook live stream in response to his talk being postponed is riddled with jokes about Anne Frank, underage sex and suicide. Yiannopoulos’ offensive and immediate reaction to the talk’s postponing speaks for itself.

If Rectenwald had invited an actual conservative — maybe someone who has the actual credentials to speak about what he’s slated to, or is famous for something other than bullying his audiences and feeding off liberal fear — perhaps the backlash from NYU students would not have been as strong. But he didn’t. He invited Milo Yiannopoulos: the embodiment of the deep underbelly of the “alt-right” and its apologists. A man who waves his “blind for love” black husband and Jewish grandmother around like they signed his permission slip to be hailed by Richard Spencer. A performance artist whose specialty is being so deliberately offensive that he can call himself “the most censored man in America.”

I understand that there was not much to be done by President Andrew Hamilton in this situation. NYU’s official policy on speakers and other campus visitors clearly states that the university supports “the presence of speakers and other campus visitors without subjecting them to political, social, and moral tests.” However, Hamilton had absolutely no reason not to condemn white supremacy. Instead, NYU made broad, vague statements about unity and equality — statements that were interpreted as a go-ahead by bigots and anti-Semitics on campus silently observing the university’s actions.

But anti-Semitism is alive and well at NYU. I saw others in NYU Facebook groups — who have since had their comments reported and deleted — calling Jews both Nazis and kikes in the same sentence. These statements were not only disturbing but terrifying. They were spurred by inviting someone like Yiannopoulos to NYU — before he had even made it to campus. The longer we allow for NYU to not acknowledge what it means to condone Yiannopoulos and other figures like him, the further we are pushing this toxic agenda of anti-Semitism. 

Email Abby Hofstetter at [email protected]

Correction, Nov. 6: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Yiannopoulos’ husband is Muslim. It also incorrectly stated that students had excused his pedophilia. There is no evidence that Yiannopoulos is a pedophile. It also incorrectly stated that Yiannopoulos speech mentioned pedophilia. It mentioned underage sex.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Ms. Hofstetter,

    Milo’s husband is Afro – American Christian John-McKinley Campbell (b. 1983). He’s a PhD student in Florida. Milo is amoral nihilist without ideology and propagandist on Robert Mercer’s payroll. He’s only interested in fame and money.

  2. An entire rant aimed at Milo Yiannopoulos under the heading of Anti-Semitism, whose events I doubt you have ever attended, whose words you have never read beyond out of context sound bites, and whose opinions I would wager you have never honestly considered, and yet no mention of the BDS vote being held by the NYU student senate, which is *actual* Antisemitism. I don’t think Milo Yiannopoulos is NYU’s anti-Semitic problem. Based on your ad hominem attacks, it seems *you* just have a problem with him.

    You write, “when hate speech is perpetually propagated with little to no condemnation, imitation inevitably ensues.” Considering that Trump vociferously condemned the slaughter in Pittsburgh, as did every sane person, and yet a pole was thrown through the window of a Brooklyn synagogue this past Saturday, your statement is nothing more than a failed backhand at Trump. So you have a problem with Milo and with Trump.

    Thank you for your useless virtue signaling.

  3. Milo is a British citizen on visa. He should be sent home. He was just a shill for the eccentric billionaire Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon. His US career was finished after pro pederasty scandal.

  4. Milo is a half-Jewish! His mother is Jewish. His new publisher is Jewish. He’s never expressed anti-semitism. Where are you getting these lies? He’s not a white supremacist either. He’s a Catholic traditionalist and opposed to *all* identity politics, both left and right. But you wouldn’t know that white supremacism is just the rightwing version of identity politics, since you clearly know very little if anything at all about politics. You have no idea what you’re writing about.

    You sound like the NYU student who almost two years ago called me a “Nazi,” even though I’m a classical liberal and opposed to identity politics, collectivism, and statism — three hallmarks of Nazism. Like so many nascent leftists, you need a real political education. You’re obviously getting nothing but a “social justice” indoctrination at NYU. And, you’re lucky the libel laws in the U.S. are so lenient. Otherwise, both Milo and I would sue you for everting you’re worth.

    • Just because you’re jewish doesn’t mean you can’t be anti semitic. He’s also gay but that doesn’t stop him from being homophobic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Dear professor, Milo is an amoral nihilist and opportunist without ideology. He has no intellectual value, he used ghost writers for his books and Breitbart articles.

    • The Michael Rectenwald Guide to Success

      1. Get dumped by your long-time girlfriend.
      2. Decide that since she was a social justice liberal type, you’re going to launch into an obsessive fixation on “SJWs.”
      3. Simultaneously bloviate about free speech while threatening to sue people for saying mean things to you.
      4. ????
      5. Profit!

  5. You would have done better singling out the Jewish boycott your fellow students are getting to pass through student government at this very moment.

  6. I’d like to see this paper cover the story of Ofir Dayan, an NYU student has been repeatedly harassed, including in an anti-Semitic manner, while the administration refuses to come to her aid. I thought journalism was all about standing up for the oppressed?

  7. According to the NYT, there have been NO recorded incidents of anti-Semitic hate crimes committed by the right in New York since Trump’s election. Rather, the left [ESPECIALLY on liberal college campuses] earned that badge of dishonor. Three recent anti-Semitic incidents in Brooklyn further illustrate this pattern. Your pointed finger of blame increasingly looks like an object lesson in projection.

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