November 26, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: re: ‘The TPUSA Debacle & Cornell’s Flirtations with the Far-Right’

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To the editor: 

Letter to the Editor: The TPUSA Debacle & Cornell’s Flirtations with the Far-Right” is unfounded and reeks of political ignorance.  The authors make multiple outlandish assertions, most notably is their classification of TPUSA as a fascist organization, despite our core principles advocating for small, limited government.  These two characterizations are mutually exclusive; any fascist government is, by definition, immense and intrusive upon its citizens’ everyday lives.

TPUSA holds events specifically to promote minority leadership in the members’ respective colleges.  A large portion of TPUSA members belong to minority groups and a variety of religions. One of our planned speakers whom these authors object to attending, Candace Owens, is an African American woman.  I, the President and Founder of the Cornell chapter, am half Jewish. If TPUSA really is the fascist, Nazi-esque group these students describe us as, we could not do a worse job if we tried.

In opposition to TPUSA’s unequivocal support for freedom of speech, the authors of this letter ironically advocate for restriction on speech, “[TPUSA’s] approach to matters of ‘free speech’ could be devolving into tacit support for the malignant growth of right-wing extremism.”  Outlawed speech is simply language with what the powerful disagree. Controversial issues could never be discussed without offending the easily offended. Our basic human rights would be limited by those who define prohibited language, a limitation that can change continuously.

Restriction on citizens’ right to speak is imperative for any oppressive ideology, regardless of its time, manner, or location.  We see this famously in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviet Union, Hirohito’s Japan, and all others. If citizens have the right to debate controversial issues and the validity of opposing sides, no oppressive regime can thrive.  Freedom of speech is a not a privilege; it is an innate human right necessary to keep totalitarian regimes at bay.

TPUSA and I condemn any totalitarian movement wherever it may arise.  However, we are sufficiently intellectually consistent to realize that all should have the right to speak freely, regardless of how morally corrupt they may be.  It is our civic responsibility, as Americans who value basic human rights, to intellectually argue with these oppressive ideologies, not to set an arbitrary, fluid, historically ignorant, and morally corrupt limitation on basic expression.

Marshal Hoffman ’19