Assault on free speech by 34 ‘honors’ professors at ASU intimidated students, shut down center

Special to WorldTribune.com

dennis_pragerDennis Prager, July 24, 2023

In February, I was invited along with Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), and Robert Kiyosaki, author of the bestseller, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” to speak at Arizona State University (ASU) at a conference titled “Health, Wealth and Happiness.”

The invitation came from the TW Lewis Center for Personal Development, an independent center affiliated with Barrett College, the honors college of ASU.

About a week before the scheduled event, 34 (Ann Atkinson — see below — counted 39) of Barrett College’s 47 faculty members signed a letter to the dean of ASU condemning the event on grounds that Charlie Kirk and I are “white nationalist provocateurs … purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, [and] institutions of our democracy.”

Charlie Kirk and Dennis Prager / Turning Point USA

In June, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that went viral, the then-director of the Lewis Center, Ann Atkinson, wrote, “The faculty protests extended beyond the letter. Professors spent precious class time denouncing the program.”

In addition, the “administration’s position … was no secret. All advertising about ‘Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ was scrubbed from campus walls and digital flyers. Behind closed doors, deans pressured me to postpone the event indefinitely. I was warned that if the speakers made any political statements, it wouldn’t be in the Lewis Center’s ‘best interests,’ which I interpreted as a threat.”

The consequences?

“The faculty’s illiberal tantrum was devastatingly effective on two fronts.

“First, the scare tactics worked on undergraduates. Many students told me they were intimidated by professors into not attending. Some would attend only if we promised that cameras wouldn’t face the audience…

“Second, the event cost its organizers dearly. Shortly after ‘Health, Wealth, and Happiness,’ Lin Blake, the events operations manager at ASU Gammage Theater, was fired… And as of June 30, ASU will dismantle the Lewis Center and terminate my position as its executive director.”

As will be clear, these 34 professors epitomize the low moral and intellectual level of nearly all our universities.

I will not address the specious attacks on Charlie Kirk. I will only note that this alleged “hater” devoted his entire half-hour speech to explaining why he, though a Christian, observes the Sabbath each week from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. He spoke about the enriching benefits to his life and to his marriage and family of abstaining from work one day every week, an abstention that includes turning off his cell phone for 24 hours.

Does that strike you as something a hater, let alone a white supremacist, would talk about to students? Furthermore, wouldn’t any student benefit from hearing such a talk, especially from a young person?


First, the scare tactics worked on undergraduates. Many students told me they were intimidated by professors into not attending. Some would attend only if we promised that cameras wouldn’t face the audience… Second, the event cost its organizers dearly. Shortly after ‘Health, Wealth, and Happiness,’ Lin Blake, the events operations manager at ASU Gammage Theater, was fired… And as of June 30, ASU will dismantle the Lewis Center….


Here are some of the accusations of the 34 ASU professors:

“During Black History Month Barrett is hosting two white nationalist provocateurs who have decried the social prohibition on using the n-word and called for the cancellation of Black History Month.”

Their primary “proof” of my being a white nationalist is a statement I once made on my radio show. I told a caller that I believe it is ludicrous that one can never say the N-word — unless, of course, one calls or refers to a black person using that word, in which case, I said, “it is despicable.” You can hear me say it is despicable to call a black person the N-word on the broadcast linked to the professors’ letter.

The context of my statement about the N-word was my saying on the air the word “Kike” in quoting the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning David McCullough biography of President Harry S. Truman. A caller asked me why people can say “Kike” — the N-word for Jews — but never the N-word. That is when I made the common-sense point that there are times when enunciating awful words is warranted — as when one wishes to condemn its use or quote literature, to cite two examples.

In fact, the New York Times recently published an op-ed piece by Columbia University Linguistics Professor John McWhorter on the N-word in which he and the New York Times repeatedly spelled out the word — precisely to show that sometimes it is entirely legitimate to say or write the word. In short, the professor (who is black) and the New York Times (which is as left-wing as the 34 ASU professors) essentially said what I said about the N-word.

The 34 provided two other examples of my being a “white nationalist provocateur”:

One is that I said in 2020, “If you see the entire video, (George Floyd) is sort of hysterical from the beginning of his encounter with the police, who were completely decent with him. He says he can’t breathe; he can’t breathe before they touch him.”

The other is that I condemned Black Lives Matter.

On the basis of these three examples — none of which is in any way racist — the ASU professors labelled and libeled me as a “white nationalist provocateur.”

They owe me a public apology. More importantly, they owe ASU and their students an apology. Should they not apologize and retract their libels, if ASU has any commitment to truth, it should censure every one of the 34.

Every other example the 34 cited to smear me was equally specious and intellectually dishonest.

Every example they used to condemn me was taken from a left-wing group called Media Matters, whose raison d’etre is to smear conservatives. Media Matters is as far left as Proud Boys is far right. Imagine if a conservative group condemned liberals using only Proud Boy sources. That would be the equivalent of what the 34 professors did.

This is important to understand because the professors based their entire smear of me on one, radical, source; they clearly never read any of my work.

The charge of my being a “white nationalist” is as vicious as it libelous. It would be impossible to find a written word in my ten books or more than a thousand columns (all available on the internet) or an uttered sentence in forty years of broadcasting that expresses sympathy with “white nationalism.” I am a religious Jew who hates white nationalism, the doctrine that murdered two out of every three of Europe’s 9 million Jews just a few years before I was born. My father, an Orthodox Jew, joined the U.S. Navy and risked his life to fight that evil. As anyone who has heard or read me can testify, the motto of my life, taken from Viktor Frankl’s classic “Man’s Search for Meaning,” is that “there are only two races: the decent and the indecent.”

Unlike the 34 professors and the rest of the left, I divide people by morality, not race or class.

So, given the dishonesty of the smears, why did the 34 professors condemn ASU for having me come to speak at ASU?

The reason is that left-wing professors, deans and students are terrified of articulate conservatives coming to their campuses. They rightly fear that if students are exposed to one of us for just 90 minutes, we can undo four years of leftist indoctrination.

And here’s one proof: It is almost inconceivable any one or, for that matter, ten, of these professors would invite me to ASU to debate them.

Meet a few of them — exactly as described on their individual pages on the ASU website.

Dagmar Van Engen, a ‘non-binary’ individual whose preferred pronoun is ‘they,’ and whose “current project argues that transness is central to queer and feminist science [and is the] author of ‘How to Fuck a Kraken: Cephalopod Sexualities and Nonbinary Genders in EBook Erotica.'”

Lisa Barca, whose “area of expertise includes … Feminism and Gender Studies and (whose) recent research uses an ecofeminist approach to the intersections of speciesism . . . and other forms of discrimination.”

Alex Young, “a scholar of transnational settler colonialism.”

David Agruss, who has done “research in gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, queer theory, and animal studies” and who “filed a lawsuit against Montana State University, saying he was denied tenure and fired because he is gay.”

Joseph O’Neill, who “recently led a seminar on the ‘whitewashing of Ancient Greece and Rome.'”

Rachel Fedock, whose “research interests include … feminist ethics, Black feminism, abolition, gender, race…”

And Rebecca Soares, an editor of “The Female Fantastic: Gendering the Supernatural in the 1890s and 1920s.”

These are the people who teach your children at Arizona State University — in their “honors” college, no less.

Dennis Prager is a columnist for WorldTribune.com. He is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His second volume of Bible commentary, “The Rational Bible — Genesis: God, Creation, Destruction,” is published by Regnery. He is the founder of PragerUniversity.com and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

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