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Incoming Cal State LA Ethnic Studies Dean Defended Farrakhan in 2018

Jewish groups expressed concern over Malveaux being named as the dean of Cal State LA’s College of Ethnic Studies.
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June 25, 2021
Dr. Julianne Malveaux testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday June 19, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The incoming dean of Cal State Los Angeles’ new College of Ethnic Studies defended Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan in 2018.

The Education Next journal reported that economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux will start in her new position on July 1. University President William A. Covino said in a statement, “I look forward to the work that the college will do and the collaborations that will emerge under Dr. Malveaux’s leadership. This is a significant appointment for the college, but also for the city and the nation.”

Education Next unearthed a 2018 column from Malveaux in the Birmingham Times, where she wrote that Women’s March, Inc. co-founder Theresa Shook and actress Alyssa Milano “have demanded that the women’s march leaders ‘denounce’ National of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. Why? They object to his anti-Semitic rhetoric. They object to the fact that Tamika Mallory attended his annual Savior’s Day this year. They say that anti-Semitism is hateful and dangerous, and they are right. But it wasn’t the Nation of Islam that shot up the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh!”

She added: “White people’s hatred for Minister Farrakhan is irrational and, might I say, racist. He is the only person, the only human being that Congress has censured. No David Duke, no Charlottesville murderers, none of the hatemongers that have caused the racist tension in our nation. Just Minister Farrakhan. But then our society is consistent with its double standards and its demands that black people bend over backward to prove that we, too, sing America.”

Education Next also found a 2018 article in The Final Call—the NOI’s newspaper—that quotes Malveaux calling a congressional resolution denouncing Farrakhan “insanity.” “Farrakhan is the only person in contemporary history who has been targeted by Congress for his views. We have not seen the people in Charlottesville who killed the woman targeted. So the only person you could think of to target is a Black man who loves Black people.” She added that “tens of thousands if not millions of people, Black people” view Farrakhan as “their chosen leader.”

“They are not racist people. They are not anti-Semitic. They are Black people. So, until these Jewish people who are running around asking Black people to buck dance, until they ask White people to buck dance, I ain’t having it! I’m just not having it!” She did tell the paper that she doesn’t agree with all of Farrakhan’s statements.

Additionally, Education Next found a 2005 article in The New York Jewish Week stating that Malveaux had attended an announcement by Farrakhan of an upcoming civil rights march at the time; the article stated that “Malveaux was critical of Farrakhan’s critics for bringing up his comments of ‘15 or 20 years ago.’” However, Education Next did find a 1995 Washington Post op-ed that Malveaux wrote stating: “While I reject white Americans’ use of Louis Farrakhan as a litmus test of acceptable black opinion, I also reject the notion that I have to embrace Farrakhan just because white America looks askance at him. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam offer an array of positives and negatives to black America. On the plus side, there is his focus on economic development and discipline. On the minus side, there is the antisemitic rhetoric and the traditionalism in gender relations.”

Education Next also highlighted a May 2021 op-ed in the Richmond Free Press where Malveaux wrote regarding the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas: “Israel has a lock on U.S. foreign policy, and too many Jewish people say that criticism of Israel makes you anti-Semitic. There is no anti-Semitism in wanting justice for Palestinian people, but some people, fearful of being called anti-Semitic, are silent in the face of injustice.”

Jewish groups expressed concern over Malveaux being named as the dean of Cal State LA’s College of Ethnic Studies.

“We are concerned about the appointment of Dr. Malveaux as the new Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State LA due to past comments demonizing Israel, invoking antisemitic tropes of Jewish control over U.S. foreign policy and defending extremist, antisemite and homophobe Louis Farrakhan,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey Abrams said in a statement to the Journal. “We hope that, in contrast to these past comments, she will use her role to promote education and foster understanding between communities.”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Director Richard S. Hirschhaut similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “The hiring of Julianne Malveaux to lead Cal State LA’s College of Ethnic Studies is a perplexing choice and a botched opportunity to promote racial reconciliation and healing. Her academic credentials aside, what is Cal State LA thinking in choosing a strident anti-Israel ideologue and apologist for some of most rank antisemitic bigots in America today? Malveaux is a polarizing and divisive figure who will do little to advance appreciation or even respect for our diverse narratives. Dare I say, this is an affront to the many communities that make up the rich diversity of Los Angeles and a setback to our collective push for progress.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Journal, “To have a situation where a dean of an American educational institution in the heart of California is a supporter of the most notorious antisemite in America, Louis Farrakhan, is unbelievable.” He added that when Farrakhan has battled with various illnesses, “most of the medicine that was used to cure him were invented by Jews. And he remains a notorious anti-Semite, and America has to correct that.”

He added: “It’s time for the entire Africa-American community to do the right thing and repudiate Louis Farrakhan, not elevate him. And what [Malveaux] is doing is elevating him and if she thinks that way she’ll be regarded as a Farrakhan favorite, it’s an outrage, and every Jew should be speak out against it. It’s a disgrace to the university to have someone who is not a bit embarrassed to herald Louis Farrakhan as an iconic figure that Americans should look up to. It’s disgraceful.”

Jack Saltzberg, President and Founder of The Israel Group, also told the Journal, “The ADL calls Farrakhan ‘America’s Leading Anti-Semite.’ The Southern Poverty Law Center says he’s a black separatist, which makes him a racist. So, it appears the new Ethnic Studies dean has problems with both Jews and whites.”

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein told Education Next, “While we fully support better representation of marginalized groups in public education, it is now well documented that too many ethnic studies departments are institutionally biased against Jews and Israel. Unfortunately, it appears this appointment will make that problem worse. How can Jews expect to be treated with respect in a college where the leader has defended Louis Farrakhan, downplayed concerns about antisemitism, and promoted destructive conspiracy theories about Jewish power?”

Covino defended the hire in a statement to the Journal. “Dr. Malveaux comes to Cal State LA as a highly regarded public intellectual, whose scholarship and commentary present a complex and challenging vision of how best to serve the public good. I am convinced that she is not antisemitic.”

The Journal also sent a request for comment to Malveaux through the contact form on her website; the comment was not returned as of publication time.

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