Commentary: Safe and Free: Envisioning a New Guide for Speakers on Campus

Shira Hoffer
Harvard Political Review

Excerpt: In the fall of 2020, two San Francisco State University professors invited Leila Khaled to speak at a virtual roundtable entitled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled.” Khaled, a self-described “freedom fighter,” has hijacked two planes on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a US-designated terrorist organization. She unabashedly promotes violence, saying “When you defend humanity, you use all the means at your disposal … I chose arms and I believe that taking up arms is one of the main tools to solve this conflict in the interest of the oppressed and not the oppressors.” Facing increasing pressure, Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube refused to stream the event, citing unwillingness to sanction pro-terrorism content.

Although this event was shut down not by the college but by the tech companies, the controversy surrounding this event highlights two important campus questions: who should be invited to speak, and who gets to decide?