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Steve Bannon accepts invite to debate at U. of Chicago — and a whole bunch of people don't like it

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon accepted an invitation from a University of Chicago professor to debate at the school — but as you might imagine, not all faculty members or students were pleased with the move. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon accepted an invitation from a University of Chicago professor to debate at the school — but as you might imagine, a whole bunch of faculty members, students, and even former students aren't pleased with the move.

Several University of Chicago graduates on Tuesday planned to deliver a letter — signed by more than 1,000 alumni — to school President Robert Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier demanding that the college rescind the invitation, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

About 100 people appeared at a demonstration at the college's Booth School of Business last Thursday, the Chicago Maroon reported. Their chants included: “No hate, no fear, Nazi thugs aren’t welcome here,” and “Disinvite! Disinvite! Disinvite!”

Political science professor Cathy Cohen also objected to inviting Republican President Donald Trump's former confidante to the school.

“With Bannon we have someone who has trafficked in white supremacist ideologies,” she told the Maroon in a separate article. “It is unclear what he brings to any conversation. … The question has to be: At what point does free speech turn into hate speech?”

Cohen also expressed anger to the paper that tuition-paying students of color have to “pay the cost for this pursuit of free speech.”

The Maroon reported that faculty members are signing an open public letter to the college's president and provost about their opposition to Bannon's invite, which reads in part:

Bannon traffics in hate speech, promoting white supremacist ideologies meant to demean and dehumanize those most marginalized, often people of color. His presence on campus sends a chilling message not only to students, staff and faculty at the University, but also to the young people who attend the University of Chicago Charter School and Laboratory School and to the primarily black neighbors who surround the university. Specifically, when speakers who question the intellect and full humanity of people of color are invited to campus to “debate” their worthiness as citizens and people, the message is clear that the University’s commitment to freedom of expression will come at the expense of those most vulnerable in our community. We, therefore, believe that having Bannon on campus stands in fundamental opposition to the diverse and inclusive community the University professes to want to build.

What did the professor who invited Bannon have to say?

Booth professor Luigi Zingales extended the invitation to Bannon and defended it on Facebook.

"Whether you agree with him or not (and I personally do not), Mr. Bannon has come to interpret and represent this backlash [against globalization and immigration] in America. For this reason, I invited Mr. Bannon to a debate on these issues with our faculty," Zingales wrote. "I firmly believe that the current problems in America cannot be solved by demonizing who think differently, but by addressing the causes of their dissatisfaction. Hate cannot be defeated by hate, but only by reason."

Zingales added to the Maroon that Bannon has insights to offer: “Whether you like his views or not, he seems to have understood something about America that I’m curious to learn more about."

The University of Chicago released a statement Thursday, the Maroon said:

Professor Luigi Zingales of the Booth School of Business is planning an event with the tentative format of a debate on subjects including the economic benefits of globalization and immigration, and has invited Steve Bannon, former chief strategist and senior adviser in the Trump administration, to debate an expert in the field, with Zingales serving as moderator. More details will be available soon from the Booth School of Business.

A date for the event has not been set, the paper said.

(H/T: Campus Reform)

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