On Feb. 27, I resigned my position as secretary of the Georgetown University College Republicans. Being an elected board member of the College Republicans was a dream of mine since I was first accepted into Georgetown, and I was blessed to have such an early opportunity to do so. I, along with seven other young conservatives, were elected to a board that was supposed to represent a “GUCR for a new century.”
However, after inviting anti-Islamic activist Nonie Darwish to speak on campus Wednesday, I realized that the board that I was once proud to serve had become misguided and turned its back on our message to be Republicans for a new century. Instead of defending the righteous pillars of free speech, the Georgetown University College Republicans board decided to support the shameful principles of hate speech.
My decision to resign has come under scrutiny by some conservatives on campus and even picked up by conservative provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro. Still, I am fully behind my decision.
To truly understand why I resigned, one must understand the severity of the speaker the board has chosen to invite. Nonie Darwish is a former Muslim woman who converted to Christianity and is now a self-described women’s rights advocate. I initially found her story to be inspiring, interesting and especially unique; one that I believed deserved to be shared.
However, through further research, it was brought to the board’s attention that Darwish is not the advocate she claims to be. Darwish describes herself as someone who “warns the West of the dangers of Radical Islam and Sharia law” and has been quoted as saying that “Islam should be feared, and should be fought, and should be conquered and defeated and annihilated.”
It was clear to me that after this was brought to our attention by other members of the board, we faced a crucial decision of either still allowing her to speak or disinviting her, and more importantly, whether Darwish’s address constituted free speech and hate speech.
Hate speech is defined by the American Bar Association as “speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” Now, yes, the Constitution does protect the principles of free speech. However, through our judiciary, and as a country, we have decided to define some confines as to what can be said.
I agree with the American Bar Association and its definition of hate speech and I believe wholeheartedly that Nonie Darwish’s comments qualify as hate speech. There is no doubt in my mind that speaking about the annihilation of entire religion and its followers is and should be categorized as hate speech.
Just this week, a Georgia couple was sentenced to a combined almost two decades in prison because of racial threats, among other offenses, made to a black family. The words of Nonie Darwish, who calls for the annihilation of Islam and claims Islam is a poison to a society, maliciously offend our Muslim brother and sisters, not only on the Hilltop, but around the world.
Let me be clear: As a moral conservative and an American, I believe that the freedom of speech is, without a doubt, one of the most important founding pillars of our democracy and, unfortunately, faces many opponents today.
However, to hide behind our First Amendment right of freedom of speech to give a platform to a hatemonger is not only cowardly, but egregious and immoral. As Republicans, we should defend the Constitution, advocate for a flatter and fairer tax code and promote free enterprise, but we should never become a platform for hate speech.
I stand with those who say hate speech is not welcome on the Hilltop. I ask the GUCR board to truly explore what the limits of free speech are and to fulfill its promise to personify a GUCR for a new century — one that is inclusive, diverse and committed to defining true conservatism.
Javon Price is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.