Suffolk University’s recent announcement of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director, Mr. Abraham Foxman as the speaker at the Law School’s Commencement has not only come as a shock but has also deeply upset many students. Mr. Foxman's views on many issues offend the student conscience:
- Suffolk University
President James McCarthy
On April 4, Suffolk University Law School announced the selection of Mr. Abraham Foxman as the keynote speaker for our 2014 commencement. Mr. Foxman’s presence at commencement not only insults students and their families, but also insults the very foundation of Suffolk Law as a safe place of diversity and acceptance. To have him speak and then to bestow an honorary Juris Doctor to him when he blatantly supports human rights for only a narrowly defined category, and discriminates against others, compounds insult to injury.
As the longtime National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Mr. Foxman has been a proponent of many disturbing policies. Despite his extensive advocacy against discrimination, Mr. Foxman has failed to embrace the promotion of truly inclusive diversity. In 2007, he spoke out publicly about the ADL’s stance on the Armenian genocide, denying that the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians rose to the level of a genocide. Calling it tantamount to genocide, but refusing to define this tragedy with the appropriate and meaningful political term. When the New England Regional Director held a contrary opinion he was fired. Mr. Foxman’s commentary on the Armenian genocide hits home at Suffolk law, as there are students of Armenian descent whose families would feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed at commencement.
Last year, the ADL celebrated 100 years of existence, 26 of those years under the direction of Mr. Foxman. Despite his surface veneer of inclusion and acceptance, Mr. Foxman has repeatedly commented negatively on the topics of Muslim-Americans and immigrant populations. In an interview with Haaretz in April 2013, Mr. Foxman condoned racial profiling of Muslims for “national security” reason. In response to the interviewer’s question about “Muslim-baiting” being acceptable in the media, Mr. Foxman replied; “I don’t think that’s Muslim-baiting. It’s a natural response.”
In the same interview with Haaretz, Mr. Foxman said, “even after Boston, you’re not seeing attacks against mosques, you’re not even seeing people demonstrating in the streets.” Mr. Foxman’s statements about the Boston bombing are disrespectful to every Muslim-American and non-Muslim-American in Boston because religious generalizations only promote racism and prejudice. As the National Director of an organization that stands against discrimination of all kinds, Mr. Foxman has failed to apply the organization’s policy generally, but instead has applied it to protect only selective groups against discrimination.
Diversity has been a mission of Suffolk and we must maintain our commitment to fostering such a community and allowing those within it to feel accepted. There is no place for selective diversity and exclusionary practices at Suffolk Law. A commencement speaker should unite the student body, not divide it. For these stated reasons, we ardently demand the removal of a public figure who so passionately breaks apart our community.
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