Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke—a frequent Fox News guest and vociferous critic of the Black Lives Matter movement—was slated to give the keynote address at a symposium at the University of New Haven. But he was disinvited because administrators deemed him “potentially politically polarizing.”
UNH then attempted to mislead the public about why it had rescinded the invitiation to Clarke.
The symposium is sponsored by the university’s Forensic Science department. This year’s topic is officer-involved shootings—something Clarke is no doubt highly qualified to discuss. That’s why a senior lecturer at the university, Patrick Malloy, picked him in the first place. UNH arranged his accommodations, and confirmed that his speech was “a go,” according to Campus Reform.
Then Malloy cancelled:
On August 3, my assistant had a conversation with Mr. Malloy, who was extremely apologetic and embarrassed to have to rescind the offer. Apparently, the higher-ups did not want me to speak on campus due to my remarks about #BlackLivesMatter.
When challenged, the university simply chose to lie about why it had disinvited Clarke. UNH initially released a statement claiming that Clarke had never been formally invited, and his travel and accommodation demands were too difficult to satisfy. After Clarke called UNH out on the lie, the administration backtracked, finally conceding to Campus Reform, “we decided not to finalize his arrangements to visit campus when it was determined his appearance could potentially become politically polarizing in light of the imminent presidential election.”
Make no mistake: Clarke is vehemently opposed to BLM. He has accused the movement of terrorizing police and sympathizing with cop killers. He describes it as an anarchist movement. So yes, he is a “potentially politically polarizing” person. But so what? Everyone with an opinion worth hearing is “potentially politically polarizing,” including pro-BLM speakers. Would the university disinvite Shaun King if some students didn’t like his message?
UNH is a private university, and, I presume a fairly liberal place. It seems likely that most of the campus already has a fairly positive view of BLM. The university has nothing to lose in permitting a contrary view to be heard. Indeed, the university should seek out contrary opinions, in order to provide a sense of balance and perspective on important public policy issues. Clarke might not change anyone’s mind, but perhaps members of campus who support BLM will have a better idea of what motivates people who disagree with them.
As someone who agrees with much (though not all) of BLM’s message, I certainly wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to hear Clarke speak. I think he’s very, very wrong, but how can anyone argue against him if they don’t let him speak in the first place?
I reached out to UNH’s president for comment. He did not immediately respond.