On October 2, 2019, College Republicans United and the Muslim Students Association at ASU held a debate between Carl Goldberg, a critic of Sharia Law, and Imam Omar Tawil. To organization this event required careful compromise and planning days before its scheduled date.
Carl Goldberg reached out to College Republicans United to hold a presentation on Sharia Law and its incompatibility with American values. Goldberg has given presentations and held debates, some featured on YouTube with over 300,000 views. The executive board of CRU understood the controversy hosting this speaker, but as an organization that values free speech and discussion of ideas, reached out to ASU’s Muslim Student Association. A debate would be facilitated between a critic of Islam and an Iman, to provide a balanced conversation. Initially, the Muslim Student Association wanted there to be press in the room and opportunities for the audience to record, but changed their mind and desired no recordings to be taken during the event. Safety was a major concern for ASU and required CRU to pay for police to be present during the duration of the event, and requiring documentation of guests using Eventbrite. These precautions certainly aided a smooth event, with no disruptions from the audience or violence, and a civil discussion between the two speakers. Goldberg and Imam Tawil were given 20 minutes uninterrupted to present and afterwards three questions were chosen for each speaker, with discourse between the two permitted. The debate, organized completely by ASU students, was a success: civility through discourse that incites an emotional response is what a university campus should be facilitating.
The State Press, an ASU-run student paper published two articles on Wednesday night’s event. One was an article about the event and the other an opinion piece: I will be addressing both of these articles to clarify the misinformation and biases present in the articles. “College Republicans United host controversial Speaker Carl Goldberg” by Kiara Quaranta provided a fair representation of the event, albeit by reiterating that Goldberg is Islamophobic. Islamophobia is defined as “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam and those who practice Islam” by Merriam-Webster. Throughout Goldberg’s presentation he reiterated that his discussion was not focused on Muslim people, but the fundamental texts of Islam, such as the Qur’an. Imam Tawil pointed out that there are different translations, as well as interpretations of any dated text and that should be taken into account.
If a particular group or ideology strongly desires to hide the foundations of their belief, they either misunderstand their own beliefs or don’t want others to understand. The debate platform allows criticisms to be made and clarifications to be made by respectable sources. The author’s ignorance of the benefits of hosting a “controversial” speaker illustrates that she believes silencing opposition is effective in political discourse. At a University, that should be the objective of publicly held events.
The second article published on the event is an opinion piece by Alexia Isais entitled “Opinion: College Republicans United Promotes Islamophobia.” The use of the word “Opinion” serves mostly to distinguish itself from the first article. I stated the circumstances of the event at the beginning of this article; especially that CRU was the party that approached the Muslim Student Association for a debate with a speaker of their choice. The facts are irrelevant when the author smears the conservative group claiming that “CRU diverts attention away from their own racist ideas by framing them as part of a conversation”, which takes a microsecond of critical thinking to realize that a truly racist, Islamophobic organization would not feel comfortable inviting a Muslim group to collaborate with on an event or shake hands with a Muslim religious leader. Since the author of this opinion piece felt it was appropriate to speculate on the nature of College Republicans United without any fair representation, I believe it is fair to address the nature of the author herself. Isais’ Twitter is included at the end of the article and it is “comradealexia.” Obviously “comrade” is a nod to other socialists and communists. This name isn’t the extent of that though: a few scrolls through her Twitter and you see her labeling herself as a “Marxist-Leninist” in her description. She has retweeted quotes from Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevara, with memes about spreading Marxist ideology. Isais has a right to call herself whatever she likes, but the double standard is so blatant here it must be addressed. College Republicans United is a Republican club that wants preserve American values and they are targeted and labelled “white supremacists” by hosting a debate. Yet, someone who is openly a Marxist-Leninist and who idolizes Leonard Peltier who is in prison for first degree murder can write opinion pieces on the ASU-run newspaper with no controversy and have authority call regular conservatives proponents of “hatred.”
I’d like to briefly note the political history of Marxism: Joseph Stalin adopted Marxist-Leninism and 20 million people were killed under that political system*. Mao Zedong adopted Marxist-Leninism and 45 million people died under his leadership. It should be noted, in the one hundred years since Marxism has been practiced, Marxism is directly responsible for deaths of one-hundred million people.
The list can go on and on, but I’d like to ask: how many people died directly due to the works of Milton Friedman? Acknowledging death tolls seems elementary and unnecessary, but it is necessary to illustrate this absurdity. Furthermore, before the event I saw an event published on a public bulletin for a “Communist Study Group.” Personally, I believe University is the place to discuss ideas, as I stated previously and Communism is no exception. However, if students are concerned about potential violence or hate because of ideologies, why doesn’t the same apply to alt-left writings that led to the murder of 65 million people under two regimes in the last century? If you would like to help CRU pay for future events please consider donating to this club – https://www.gofundme.com/f/2019-fundraiser-for-cru
We reached out @MsaAsu in good faith to hold a dialogue between two opposing viewpoints. Many Conservatives distrust Muslims and clearly the feeling is mutual. We were pleased Imam Omar denounced Hezbollah and Hamas, but some attendees and press missed the point of the meeting. pic.twitter.com/30tZ00Pzds
— College Republicans United (@ASU_CRU) October 3, 2019