We are disappointed to learn that on October 9 the University of British Columbia (UBC) once again plans to host speakers who spread bigotry and division in our communities.
Ricardo Duchesne and Mark Hecht are scheduled to speak at UBC as guests of deceptively named club “Students for Freedom of Expression”. In fact, the platforming of these speakers in the name of “free speech” is a cover for the actual purpose, the promotion of alt-right, white supremacist ideologies.
Duchesne was a professor at the University of New Brunswick before being forced to take early retirement back in June. This came after over 100 of his colleagues denounced his promotion of white supremacy, including espousal of racist conspiracy theories on a podcast and in writings, the most recent of which was released by a publisher whose catalogue also includes Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust.
Hecht recently made headlines, and generated widespread outrage, in relation to his anti-immigrant opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun. The xenophobic article ultimately led to a retraction and apology from the news outlet, but Hecht has stood by the piece and the divisive ideas included therein.
The labour movement is a movement for all workers. We stand together regardless of place of origin, nationality, or citizenship status. We welcome refugees and immigrants, recognizing that they make our communities better. We acknowledge that many of us are settlers or newcomers ourselves, and that our families once had experiences like those who are joining our communities today. We also stand for reconciliation and recognize that we are on unceded indigenous lands and we have a responsibility to challenge colonialism and be part of building a better future for us all, together.
Unfortunately, over the past two years UBC has welcomed a long list of speakers who promote ideologies which are white nationalist, alt-right, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant, as well as transphobic ideologies.
The decision to host individuals seeking to spread this kind of message has been opposed and protested by students, faculty and staff at UBC as well as by community and labour organizations. So far, those broad-based concerns have clearly not been heard. While we absolutely stand for free speech and academic freedom, we cannot conflate these with freedom to engage in hate speech. Nor can we accept this as an excuse to pretend that the universities hands are tied with regards to choosing to provide a platform for the same.
We therefore join the call to cancel the event scheduled for Wednesday, October 9. If the event proceeds, we encourage labour and community support for the rally being organized by Students Against Bigotry. We cannot accept the proliferation of hate in our communities! Together, we can shut down white supremacy at UBC!
Phone, email & social media blitz against white supremacy (Fri, Oct 4) https://www.facebook.com/events/428686821095571
Shut down white supremacy at UBC! (Wed, Oct 9) https://www.facebook.com/events/425943927905034