A petition has been launched on the Stop Antisemitism website calling for University of North Carolina Asheville to replace Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory as their keynote speaker for a Martin Luther King, Jr. event.
The petition states that Mallory has “a history of anti-Semitic behavior, which includes invoking anti-Semitic canards and supporting Louis Farrakhan, one of America’s most notorious anti-Semites and the leader of the Nation of Islam.”
The petition proceeds to note that King was a staunch supporter of Israel, calling Israel “one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”
“Choosing a bigot like Tamika Mallory as a keynote speaker is an insult to Dr. King’s legacy as one of America’s most important civil rights leaders,” the petition states.
The petition notes that various Women’s March groups are severing themselves from the national Women’s March organization as evidence of how out of step the Women’s March national leaders’ anti-Semitism with the progressive movement.
When asked by the Journal about the petition, a spokesperson from the University of North Carolina Asheville pointed to a statement from Chancellor Nancy Cable and Interim Provost Karin Peterson that read, in part: “The Constitutional and democratic principles of freedom of thought and expression are central to our mission as a university, especially during the day honoring the legacy and enduring values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
“As has been our custom, the university’s invitation to an individual speaker at a university event in no way implies endorsement of that speaker’s comments, critiques, views, ideas, or actions,” the statement continued. “Further, the university’s fundamental principles reject bias in all of its forms including anti-Semitism and discrimination.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement, “If the administration is genuine about rejecting anti-Semitism and discrimination, it will unequivocally condemn Mallory’s hateful statements toward Jews and praise of Louis Farrakhan. Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from criticism for engaging in bigotry. The university should use its own free speech rights to take a moral stand and confront Mallory on this issue.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called on UNC Asheville to cancel the event.
“A keynote address celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy of unity by a person who embraces anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, America’s divider-in-chief,” Cooper told the Journal in an email. “We call on UNC to cancel an event that besmirched and mocks MLK. Tamika Mallory must choose between two legacies MLK or Farrakhan. You can’t embrace love and hate simultaneously.”