FPI / July 28, 2020
Commentary by Paul Crespo
Fordham University is using “Soviet-style” repression against one of its students over a benign gun photo and another innocent social media post.
But the student is fighting back.
Austin Tong, son of immigrants from totalitarian China, and an upcoming senior at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, commemorated China’s Tiananmen Square massacre last month with two Instagram posts — one with him holding his legally-owned AR-15 rifle in his backyard.
The post’s caption simply read, according to The Blaze, “Don’t tread on me. #198964,” a reference to both the American revolutionary Gadsden flag and communist China’s June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. After sending Public Safety officers to his residence and questioning Tong, the University found him guilty of violating university policies banning “threats/intimidation,” and punished him with disciplinary probation through the remainder of his college career.
He is also banned from campus and must complete his degree online via remote learning. If Tong needs to go on campus, notes GunsAmerica.com, he must ask for permission from the Dean one day beforehand. Due to a separate post by Tong showing slain black police officer David Dorn, that included the caption, “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites,” Tong is being forced to take “implicit bias” training and write a letter of apology — or face suspension.
The University claims that with that benign post, Tong violated “regulations relating to bias and/or hate crimes.” This has become the code for the Left to repress conservative free speech on campuses.
Tong says, in The Blaze, that the AR-15 post was intended to express his appreciation for his Second Amendment rights. In another comment he added, “To everyone and @fordhamuniversity: this post or my mentality is SOLELY for the memory of the thousands of armless [sic – unarmed] students who had no method of defense and were massacred in 6.4.1989, and in no way advocating violence to anyone.”
Fordham’s Leftist apparatchiks were not convinced or moved.
Tong’s other post followed a riot protesting the death of George Floyd during which Dorn was killed protecting a pawn shop. According to GunsAmerica.com, Tong reasonably claims that in that post he was “simply expressing frustration that Dorn’s death was given less attention than Floyd’s.”
In a letter to the school, referenced by the Washington Free Beacon, Tong asked:
I am no longer permitted on campus, with public safety coming to my home at midnight to question me on the day of the post, and face forced political reeducation through mandatory courses and to write an apology letter, or will face full suspension or expulsion – is this happening in America, or is this a Soviet nightmare?
Fordham has refused to comment on Tong’s letter or change their decision, but thankfully, Tong is courageously fighting back. “I will not apologize,” he told the Free Beacon. “I did nothing wrong, and they did everything wrong. [Fordham is] a total disgrace. I will not apologize, whatever consequence there may be.”
More importantly, Tong has decided to sue the school, vowing to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, and creating a Go Fund Me to cover legal expenses. The NRA has also come to Tong’s defense, releasing a video describing his plight.
It is truly tragic that someone fleeing a repressive totalitarian communist regime, who comes to the United States for freedom, has to face totalitarian communist tactics here. This is a case of academic freedom, and both the First and Second amendment. To save our freedoms, Tong must succeed in his fight.
FPI, Free Press International