BSA Should Rescind Offer


To the Editors of The Crimson:

After following the events surrounding the refusal by the Black Students' Association (BSA) and Hillel to sponsor a Harvard appearance by David Duke, I am surprised and deeply disturbed to learn that the BSA has invited Leonard Jeffries to speak on campus.

Even in light of the BSA's commitment to representing a variety of student viewpoints and bringing to our campus recognized authorities on race and culture, this invitation is deeply hurtful and divisive. By offering a Harvard podium to an avowed anti-Semite and a man whose race pride is built on hatred of others, the BSA is condoning a potent form of prejudice.

Perhaps as disturbing as the invitation itself is President Art A. Hall's 92 implication that Prof. Jeffries has been widely condemned because he is a successful Black man, and not because his teaching are laced with vicious attacks on Jews and distorted interpretations of history.

Does Hall believe that Jeffries' status as a victim legitimizes any view he might hold? It seems to me that demagoguery from an individual of any race is still demagoguery. By cloaking prejudice in the language of empowerment, the BSA opens the door to every form of venom and hatred.


As true respect for free speech carries with it a responsibility to make choices about whose speech or what speech we wish to sanction, I urge the Black Students Association to reconsider their invitation to Leonard Jeffries. Refusing Jeffries a forum on campus would not deny his right to openly articulate his beliefs, but offering him a Harvard podium will lend his hate speech a degree of credibility that threatens every individual who has suffered discrimination.

Where the Institute of Politics refuses to show sensitivity to the concerns of minority groups on campus, perhaps the Black Students Association will. If nothing else, enlightened self-interest should lead Hall and thoughtful members of the BSA to condemn all forms of prejudice of the race and ancestry of the speaker, and withdraw their offer to Leonard Jeffries. Jessica Yellin '93