a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
Our intention for this protest is to create an affirming, nonviolent space for marginalized people (particularly those impacted by Ryszard Legutko’s hateful rhetoric) to celebrate themselves and each other. Middlebury’s elevation of Legutko to a legitimate academic platform echoes that of Charles Murray in 2017 and once again represents an attack on Middlebury students of marginalized identities and their sense of both safety and value. We have no intention to prevent Legutko from speaking or to prevent our peers from attending. Rather, we want to provide information to contextualize his talk and to create a place of healing and inclusivity in the face of prejudice.
During this protest, we will be distributing flyers which detail Legutko’s history of hateful speech against LGBTQ+, Muslim, and Jewish folks, as well as women and POCs. We will distribute these flyers to anyone walking into the lecture who wants one, in order to highlight (and implicitly problematize) their potential willingness to indulge his violent rhetoric.
During the panel discussion addressing Legutko on Tuesday evening titled “Populism, Homophobia, and Illiberal Democracy,” chair of the Political Science Department Erik Bleich stressed the importance of academic freedom to the functioning of Middlebury College. We feel that it is necessary to interrogate the nuances of “academic freedom,” as the academy has long been a sphere that reproduces and legitimizes oppressive rhetoric, action, and knowledge claims under the guise of “freedom”. We see the legitimization of Legutko’s speech as inseparable from other instances of unethical educational practice. Our administration claims to understand the impact and the pain of its students when a professor puts a question trivializing Holocaust Gas Chambers, but somehow refuses to extend this standard to Legutko, whose party attempted to pass legislation banning recognition of Polish collaboration with Nazis and is known for its xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti semitic, racist, sexist, and homophobic orientations. It has been proved time and again that violent discourse leads to violent, hateful actions.
We fundamentally oppose the ideologies Legutko promotes, but our frustration also lies with the Alexander Hamilton Forum’s decision to bring him to our campus — our living space, which according to Middlebury’s mission statement is supposed to be an “inclusive, residential environment.” This forum wants to give Legutko an additional platform, academic validation, and monetary compensation for his hateful ideologies. The Political Science Department and the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs’ sponsorship of this event provides Legutko with further authority and power. We are not protesting his right to say these hateful things. We are protesting Middlebury’s decision to invite him to our campus, give him a bigger platform for his hateful rhetoric, and send a message to Middlebury students who are targeted by his speech that their value and humanity is up for debate.