Kanye West. Source: JNS/Twitter.
An opinion piece written by a Tulane junior stating that “Ye did nothing wrong” has roiled the campus and caused the author to leave campus, stating she has received death threats.
In promoting her piece, Sarah Ma tweeted that Kanye West, now known as Ye, “has seemingly committed the gravest transgressions. But when you look at the context and examine why he said what he said, it’s clear he did nothing wrong.”
The piece was posted on a new online opinion site for college students, a site that is not affiliated with Tulane, on Jan. 11. The outcry was immediate on the campus where the Jewish enrollment is estimated at up to 40 percent.
Erica Woodley, associate vice president and dean of students at Tulane, sent an email to students on Jan. 12 saying that the opinion piece “has caused much distress, outrage and pain, especially in light of increasing instances of antisemitic rhetoric and violence throughout our country,” adding that “Tulane strongly condemns antisemitism, anti-Blackness, and all forms of bias and discrimination.”
While emphasizing the importance of free expression on a university campus, Woodley said “words that run counter to our core values impact our community.”
She noted that a pending review by the Office of Student Conduct is confidential.
Ma met with Woodley on Jan. 13, where Woodley apparently advised her to leave campus for a couple of weeks because the administration feels they probably could protect her on campus, they could not adequately do so off campus. She has since left the state and reported that she has been threatened.
Ma told Southern Jewish Life that she was not giving her own views in the article, she was simply referring to Ye’s statements from various interviews, and “I explain his arguments and reasoning behind his actions.”
As an example, on Dec. 7, she retweeted a post that said “By this point every1 understands the “I love Hitler” comment right? It was easy for the media to run w but Ye is saying as a Christian he forgives & loves EVERYONE & that extends even to Chris Paul who had an affair w Ye’s wife & to Hitler who’s the most hated man in history.” Her twitter feed is critical of cancel culture and woke politics.
She told WGNO that even with the controversy, she would still publish the piece if she had it to do over again, because it takes on the cancellation of Ye. “I don’t think my article has any hate speech or has any bias or discrimination toward any racial or ethnic group,” she added.
Examining Ye’s words
In her piece, Ma examined several of Ye’s recent controversies. She said that calling his “White Lives Matter” outfit racist puts whites below Blacks, instead of striving for racial equality. She said “The Black Lives Matter movement suggests that black people do not know their lives matter and therefore, demands every other race tell them that it does.”
She said Ye’s “death con 3” tweet referred to defending himself against those who have wronged him, most of whom, she said, are Jewish. “For the most part, Jewish people run Hollywood. That’s a fact,” she said.
She said Blacks do not get to recognized as individuals, so why should Ye “give any other group the luxury of recognizing sinister individuals by name instead of by group?”
Galatians in the Christian Bible says there are no distinctions among people, that all are one in Jesus. Ye said he loves Hitler and he loves Jews. Referencing Galatians, Ma said “therefore, Hitler and anyone Jewish are equal, and even Ye and Joe Biden are equal, for we are all humans created in the image of God.”
The picture of a swastika inside a Star of David “literally unites Jews and Nazis,” she added.
She concluded the piece by saying that people are not trying to understand what Ye was saying, and “Ye is not any bit guiltier than the people trying to cancel him.”
Within two days, Ma told the College Dissident, which published the original piece, that “her article quickly received significant attention from other students at Tulane, including many death threats and calls for expulsion, especially from Jewish students.”
She said she has been slandered by those who have not read the piece to see the context of her remarks, and said those who have sent her death threats “should face consequences” for going against Tulane’s core values.
“The only thing I did wrong was overestimating the intelligence of most of the Tulane population. I am embarrassed at how vile the student body is toward another human being,” she told the Dissident.
Tulane’s Women in Politics Club removed Ma from their executive board and general body, saying the group “is a bipartisan organization that prides itself on its inclusivity,” including a range of political beliefs, but the article in question was “hate speech” and “included blatant lies and misinformation.”
On Jan. 12, Ma’s sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, changed her status to “inactive member,” citing concerns for the welfare of other chapter members, and terminated her membership on Jan. 16. In a statement, the chapter said they were reaching out to say that “we as a chapter condemn this behavior” and have “absolutely no tolerance for promoting hate speech and we strive to create an inclusive environment for all.”
Tulane Chabad posted a statement that “we are horrified by the blatant antisemitic article… this hate does not represent our campus.” They distributed Shabbat candle kits for “sharing our light, as the Rebbe taught ‘a small candle dispels great darkness’.”
Tulane Hillel stated that “we are incredibly grateful to Tulane University and our campus partners for their commitment to inclusivity and equity by standing up against hateful and antisemitic language in all forms.”
On Jan. 18, Tulane Hillel and Tulane Chabad held a support circle on antisemitism, a “space for students to share their experiences and emotions in a safe and supportive environment” given the rise of antisemitism across the country.
On Jan. 14, Ma tweeted that “I don’t hold any hatred towards any race or ethnicity nor does my piece say that. Violence like this is why students are afraid to speak their minds and will only lead to more division. We should engage in conversation and welcome different perspectives.”
Three days later, she thanked the national Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression for calling on Tulane to drop its investigation of her, citing freedom of expression. “Tulane students’ intolerance for dissenting opinions is deplorable. No one should feel unsafe expressing their opinion, so long as it is free of discrimination and harassment,” she said.
In its letter to Tulane, FIRE said “even if Ma’s article was objectively offensive and discriminatory on the basis of a protected status, there is no credible argument it has deprived any students of access to educational opportunities or benefits. The article expresses certain viewpoints… but it does not reference any student at Tulane, nor does it target any student.”
If Tulane wanted to weigh in, FIRE said, it “could have expressed its disagreement with Ma’s speech while reaffirming its commitment to free expression. This approach would have been one of ‘more speech’ rather than censorship — which all universities should use as an alternative to censorship.”
FIRE has listed Tulane as No. 156 of 203 universities in terms of free speech.
StopAntisemitism recently ranked 25 top universities on their response to antisemitism, and Tulane was one of only three to receive an A.