Rantz: Seattle University professor promotes violent resistance, school won’t condemn it
An associate professor at Seattle University School of Law promoted the value of violent resistance in a Facebook post. The school refuses to comment.
Dean Spade, a fringe and controversial and local activist who has earned the institutional support of the Jesuit university, took to Facebook on March 7 to weigh in on the death of Freddie Oversteegen, a Dutch resistance fighter who engaged in violence to fight and kill Nazis during WWII.
In the post, Spade celebrated Oversteegen’s violence, but was sad to see climate activists from a group called Extinction Rebellion “parroting” pacifism.
The assertion that non-violent protest is the most effective tactic to bring about change ignores the powerful histories of armed movements for decolonization, self-defense, and freedom, and participates in the very rhetoric used to criminalize activists who have used militant tactics to oppose racist and colonial state violence.
The note is meandering and convoluted. It’s an attempt to try to turn a call to arms into an esoteric academic argument. But Spade implies the necessity of violence in order to fight back at those he perceives as standing in the way of helping save the planet.
That idea–that its [sic] only okay to fight back in limited ways no matter what is at stake–is the very idea used to criminalize movements, especially movements of people of color and colonized people. We can’t celebrate Freddie’s accomplishments and then turn around and utter pacifist nonsense that undermines solidarity with oppressed people and their struggles. If climate change is as pressing as we know it to be, why would we limit our disruption tactics in ways that maintain respect for the governments and businesses that threaten our existence?
Of course, Spade deems himself — and all like-minded individuals — as the arbiters of what is just and worthy of fighting for. If, say, someone thought it just to use violence to push for a border wall or to stop socialism from spreading in this country, they’d be deemed domestic terrorists because it falls on the opposite political spectrum of these progressive radicals. But Spade? Well, he and his ilk are freedom fighters.
Spade also links to an extremist text, “How Nonviolence Protects the State” by Peter Gelderloos, which “invites activists to consider diverse tactics, passionately arguing that exclusive nonviolence often acts to reinforce the same structures of oppression that activists seek to overthrow” (this description doesn’t actually mean anything).
A Facebook message to Spade, via the brand profile page he posted his note, was not returned.
Seattle University won’t comment
When I asked a Seattle University spokesperson if they agreed with Spade’s message, and if it was in line with the values of the school, David Sandler, Director of Marketing and Communications, balked and emailed “We will not comment at this time, but thank you for reaching out.”
Sandler ignored a follow-up email.
This is a cowardly way to respond to a press inquiry and implies tacit approval of the comments.
Seattle University, of late, has leaned into viewing their mission through a social justice lens, giving significant power to a small group of radical children. It’s ironic, given the amount of “privilege” you’d need to afford the $63,921 for tuition, plus room and board each year at the university. These kids aren’t looking to learn; they’re looking to have their worldviews regurgitated back to them and the university has been willing to indulge.
Spade’s rhetoric comes as no shock, as he is well-known for his fringe beliefs. He is the activist behind the virulently anti-Semitic documentary Pinkwashing, which alleges Israel pretends to support LGBTQ causes as a means to hide what activists claim are human rights abuses. Anti-Semites deflect the criticism, citing Spade as a Jew, though he appears to identify as Jewish as a means to criticize Israel.
The documentary is sponsored by Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the Seattle LGBTQ Commission. Sawant refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization and the commission has gotten so fringe, even former members call them out.
“[Pinkwashing] is a construct useful to radical academicians and politicians looking to instigate conflict for personal and political gains,” former Commissioner Ian Irving Bradshaw told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH during coverage for a related story when he was running for Seattle City Council. “It rhetorically polarizes communities already fighting for their place in the world.”
Spade will teach Race and Law in spring 2019, which teaches kids the virtue of social justice warrioring.
UPDATE: “The views expressed by the professor on his personal Facebook page do not represent the views of the university. As a Catholic Jesuit university, we do not condone violence.” – Dean Forbes, media relations specialist Marketing Communications Dept.
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