Standing with a Purdue professor

October 18, 2017

Purdue University Professor Bill Mullen recently came under fire from President Mitch Daniels for calling on the university to denounce fascist organizing on campus. In response, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) is circulating the following petition in defense of Mullen. College and university students, faculty and staff can sign at the link and show their support for the right of academics to speak out.

U.S. CAMPAIGN for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) expresses its utmost solidarity with our comrade and colleague on the Organizing Collective, Bill Mullen, who is facing false and malicious attacks by Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, where Mullen is Professor of English and American Studies.

We condemn Daniels's attack and recognize it as part of a larger attempt on the part of university administrators to vilify students and faculty fighting fascism, while they offer protection to those who are actually spreading fascism on college campuses under the cover of "free speech." We also note that the question of Palestine brings clearly into focus university administrators' implication in white supremacy and fascist violence.

Professor Bill Mullen, as one of the founding members of the Campus Anti-fascist Network (CAN), is vigorously opposing the fomenting of fascist violence on university campuses, including by those who identify as neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Even as Mullen has been engaged in strenuously fighting the anti-Semitism and racism promoted by "alt-right" groups, his university president has falsely charged him with "anti-Semitism," presumably on the basis of his Palestine solidarity work, including with the USACBI campaign.

Bill Mullen
Bill Mullen

CAN's platform is premised on supporting democracy and respect for human rights, and opposing white supremacy and imperialist and fascistic violence. Daniels purposefully inverts and misrepresents CAN's work, and in doing so creates and perpetuates a dangerously false equivalence between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, while letting real anti-Semites, in the form of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, speak freely. With no evidence to support his accusations, Daniels' dishonest association is meant to discipline those like Mullen who engage in anti-racist, anti-fascist work on the principle of justice.

Daniels' misconception--an all too common one--that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic blinds him to the fact that the faculty member he demonizes is at the front lines of the fight against anti-Semitism, and that this activity, as part of Bill Mullen's anti-fascist organizing, is perfectly consistent with his support for the Palestinian struggle. Both struggles involve upholding democratic principles, respect for human rights, and opposition to violent forms of nationalism and white supremacy in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In attacking Bill Mullen, Mitch Daniels does something worse than equating anti-fascism with fascism. He supplements the work of the fascists through such baseless, distracting accusations.

All social justice movements have a stake in confronting this new form of McCarthyism, especially as growing bipartisan repression in the Trump era aims to systematically isolate and silence intersectional grassroots resistance wherever it appears.

For precisely these reasons, we stand in support with our comrade, Bill Mullen, as we refuse to divide our anti-Zionist organizing from the work of resisting fascism and white supremacy in all its forms.

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