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Saturday, December 10, 2016
On November 5 Congressman Mark Kirk spoke at the 2005 International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium taking place at Tech. Although the purpose of this conference was to highlight recent advances in the field of nanotechnology, Kirk’s remarks included calling for discrimination against Arabs.
“I'm OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states. I'm OK with that," Kirk said. "I think that when we look at the threat that's out there, young men between, say, the ages of 18 and 25 from a couple of countries, I believe a certain amount of intense scrutiny should be placed on them.”
As a Northwestern student, I am shocked that a public official can make such racist remarks on campus without sparking any outrage among the administration. Yes, Kirk has a free-speech right to say what he believes. But university officials have that same right to stand up and tell him they will not allow their campus to be used to spread these illegal and immoral positions.
Several organizations, including the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, have demanded Kirk retract his endorsement of an illegal policy and issue an apology. Northwestern University should do the same considering its podium was used to promote bigotry that disregards its own ideals of nondiscrimination.
Northwestern University has a responsibility to challenge such speakers, to show its student body that it will not tolerate such prejudice. By doing so, administrators will only be reaffirming Northwestern’s standard of fair treatment regardless of race, religion or national origin.
"I'm not threatened by people from China. I'm not even threatened by people from Mexico,” Kirk also said. “I just know where the threat is from. It's from a unique place, and I think it's OK to recognize that.”
Congressman Mark Kirk should also apologize to Northwestern University for using its symposium to spread this inappropriate position.
Medill School of Journalism
Class of 2007