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An Open Letter to Council Member James

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Council Member James,

I am writing to express my extreme dismay that you signed on to a letter explicitly threatening Brooklyn College. It is extremely inappropriate and nefarious for you to threaten to pull funding from BC if it decides to allow its Political Science Department to host an event featuring two advocates of the BDS movement. It is, of course, your right to express your support for Israel or to criticize advocates of the BDS movement, but to attack a college and threaten it with financial blackmail for having the audacity to allow alternative views to be expressed is absurd.

It would appear you feel it's inappropriate for the political science department to sponsor the event and/or that the event should include an advocate for Israeli and/or its government. But there are plenty of events that are sponsored by college departments that feature unchallenged viewpoints. Surely you don't expect every event to include counter-arguers? Surely you would not have threatened BC if it was hosting a pro-Israel event, or a pro-LGBT discussion.

What you appear to be seeking to do is to stifle a viewpoint that you find offensive and to use your power as a city council member to do so while simultaneously hoping to win cheap political points from those who happily agree with the orthodoxies associated with devout Israel supporters.

The action you have taken makes it all but certain I will never vote for you, regardless of your other political positions, many of which I wholeheartedly agree with. Your clear effort to suffocate free speech is despicable and indefensible.