On August 31st, Professor Laura Beth Nielsen of Northwestern University appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” for an interview with Carlson. Professor Nielsen has come out in support of Campus Antifascist Network (CAN).
CAN was founded by two university professor, Bill Mullen of Purdue University Stanford University Professor David Palumbo-Liu. According to a piece by the Daily Wire, CAN was actually founded last year as the professors responded to what they saw as an attempt by the alt-right to infiltrate college campuses. However, most have not been aware of the organization until it took center stage in light of the events of Charlottesville.
Following the events of Charlottesville, CAN issued a statement standing in solidarity with Charlottesville protestors. Furthermore, the issued an invitation to college students to join the CAN movement which opening sentence reads: “The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fascist and white nationalist groups nationwide, on campus and off, and their recent upsurge requires antifascists to take up the call to action once again. Since Trump’s election, fascists, neo-fascists, and their allies have used blatantly Islamophobic, anti-semitic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist messaging and iconography to recruit to their ranks and intimidate students, faculty and staff.” It is ironic that Palumbo-Liu comes out against anti-semitism in the invitation, as he is also a supporter of the anti-semitic BDS movement which I reported on earlier this year.
Carlson questioned Nielson on what the point of the CAN network is. “Well I should say, just to be perfectly clear, I am not affiliated with the CAN network…I am a scholar of free speech and campus hate speech and those kinds of issues,” said Nielsen.
Going back to answering Carlson’s initial question Nielsen responded that after examining their materials, she believed their purpose to be, “…to help scholars of political theory, political science and history to develop the kinds of courses about the history of fascism to help college students make sense of what they are seeing in the news today and to try to interpret what is going on politically.”
“I love the term scholar because it so rarely applies to people who work in colleges I have noticed,” said Carlson.
CAN has released a syllabus of antifacist resources, which Carlson discussed with Nielson during the interview.
Carlson read through the sources listed in the syllabus on air. “Those are not scholarly articles. A lot of them are just on left wing political websites,” said Carlson. “I should say that the syllabus that they have put up is open source, anyone can go on there and add an article,” responded Nielsen. “Then it’s not a syllabus,” said Carlson.
Carlson quoted the invitation letter saying it seemed as if “they’re tarring anybody who voted for Trump as a bigot…it’s so nonspecific it just seems like pure political propaganda to me of the least impressive kind. Do you not see that? I don’t see any scholarship in here at all and I read the whole thing.” Nielsen responded “I would say that there is definitely a place in political theory, political science and history for understanding the roots of fascism, so that we can understand if we are having a fascistic moment, and what antifascism is…”
Nielsen went on to define antifacist: “…you don’t support a totalitarian government that crushes opposition on the basis of nationalistic racial identity.”
Carlson pushed back, “whatever you think of the administration they’re not crushing opposition, in fact opposition has grown in a way that we have never seen in my lifetime, so if this if the beginning of a fascist movement they’re doing a pretty bad job of it, aren’t they?”
“They’re has been an increase in hate crimes and hate speech towards different groups that you mentioned since the election,” responded Nielsen, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“You’re like, I’m a professor, and I’m a scholar, and you cite the Southern Poverty Law Center, that’s so self-discrediting that I don’t know what to say to that. That’s not scholarship.” Carlson pushed back.
Nielsen argued, “I think that most American are antifacist.” Carlson agreed, “Yes, I am.” Nielsen continued, “We have a history of fighting fascism.” Nielsen went on to describe WWII and defeating Hitler as “violent antifascism” arguing “in so far as there is a discussion of if that’s where we are moving politically, students need to understand the history of it.” Carlson responded, “Yeah, they can learn the history of WWII, but this just seems totally hysterical to me.”