OpEd: Aiming to ignite real change



Timour Kamran

Since the disruption of and teach-in outside a lecture by white supremacist/misogynist/anti-poor fake intellectual Charles Murray, many are asking: will that be all?  Is Nova Resistance simply an anti-Murray group? 

The short answer is no: Nova Resistance holds that justice isn’t just a topic for abstract class discussion. The point isn’t to think about the world; it’s to change it for the better.  Put simply, Nova Resistance’s project is to challenge domination and oppression wherever they appear on Villanova’s campus.

Our interruption of Charles Murray’s talk was only the first example of this project.  Murray’s talk was an issue not of “free speech”, but of the power to dominate.  Inviting people like Murray (who has the freedom to say anything he wants in private) gives a privileged platform and Villanova credentials to the idea that non-men and women, people of color, working people, and the poor are inherently inferiorto rich white men.    

But Murray not the real problem, but only a symptom.  We must ask: what kind of university pays a misogynist, white supremacist to lecture our community?  Why even allow him to speak when when we have disinvited people like Anna Quindlen and Tim Miller in the past? Clearly, our university isn’t the free and equal “marketplace of ideas” we thought it to be; it is a place where domination exists in a variety of forms—from microaggressions to direct violence—and must be challenged. 

We hold that the Murray event does not exist in a vacuum.  Don’t forget that after the election of a president publicly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, there was a horrifying spike of racist attacks on campus.  In a well-known incident reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, a student survived a racist attack by men chanting the president’s name.  Again and again, students report that they feel unsafe on campus for fear of verbal and physical assaults. As a community, we need to give more than just lip-service to our virtues of veritas, unitas, and caritas.

This is what Villanova can expect in the future: any event on campus that promotes bigotry will be challenged. Villanova can expect further experiments in a radically egalitarian, radically democratic kind of education and campus life in which values like truth, unity, and love can be more fully realized, and in which very different kinds of voices can emerge. Lastly, Villanova can expect the emergence of a progressive think tank dedicated to transforming the school’s marketing slogan into a material reality: we aim to ignite change.