Sunday, March 21, 2021
At the University of San Diego, conservative law professor Tom Smith is being investigated for criticizing “Chinese” propaganda, based on the false premise that this constituted racial harassment of Asian-American students.
If Professor Smith can be disciplined, then I could have been disciplined as a student for criticizing Russia’s communist government during the Cold War. When I was a student at the University of Virginia, I criticized “Russia” in a speech to the Washington Society and the “Russians” in an article in the University Journal.
Obviously, I was talking about abuses by the communist government of the Soviet Union, which ruled Russia at the time. But if criticizing China’s communist government were racial harassment of Chinese students — which it isn’t — then criticism of Russia’s communist government would likewise be racial harassment of Russian students. There were students of Russian ethnicity at the University of Virginia, and laws against racial harassment protect all ethnic groups, including whites. (See Huckabay v. Moore (1998)).
But no one viewed my criticizing “Russia” or “Russians” as racial harassment, for good reason. It was aimed at a foreign government, not an ethnic group. Similarly, Professor Smith’s criticism was obviously aimed at China’s communist government, as law professor Eugene Volokh notes. Smith discussed a Wall Street Journal article about how “China was seeking to intimidate and dominate the investigators” of COVID-19’s origins, including “China’s manhandling of the delegation” and “its forcing of the visitors into 14-day quarantine.”