By Ross Beroff, editorial columnist
As the final speaker in the Scholars Spring Seminar on Leadership, Research and Innovation, Northeastern University will be hosting Naomi Klein, a Canadian social activist. The event is being held by the University Scholars and Civic Engagement Programs. Klein was invited to speak about her newest book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.” Klein is best known for her extreme anti-capitalist views but is also well-known for her extreme anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic views.
In an article written by Klein, she levied the disgusting accusation that Israeli men enjoy “Holocaust pornography” and profit off the sale of clothing and other products with sexualized images of Holocaust victims.
Klein was also a leading signatory on a letter protesting the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. In the letter, the legitimacy of Tel Aviv as an Israeli city was challenged. The only partition plans that do not keep Tel Aviv as part of Israel are those that call for a one-state solution and the complete destruction of Israel as a Jewish State.
Given her inappropriate comments and minimizing of the Holocaust, the date of her talk is quite interesting to note. Klein will be speaking on April 16th – Holocaust Remembrance Day.
I made the organizers of this event aware of the aforementioned comments made by Klein, as well as many others. They were also aware of how, according the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism, many of her comments and affiliations are clear contemporary examples of anti-Semitism. Despite this, the organizers, when I prompted them, made it clear that they felt no reason to put out any sort of disclaimer saying that they do not necessarily endorse what Klein says or what she stands for. However, they are still advertising that they are “proud to host Naomi Klein at Northeastern.”
No assurances could be made by the leadership of the University Scholars Program that Klein will stick to her already-controversial main topic on capitalism and the climate. Even the Facebook event for the talk makes reference to another book that Klein wrote, “The Shock Doctrine,” which is also about the supposed evils of capitalism. In “The Shock Doctrine,” Klein dedicates a whole chapter to the demonization of Israel, so apprehension that she might use the platform provided by Northeastern to spread more of this rhetoric is not unfounded.
Naomi Klein is the last in this series of speakers, where every outside speaker that was featured has been far left and come with an obvious political agenda. Among the other speakers have been Laverne Cox, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jose Antonio Vargas. The irony should also not be missed that Klein is so against capitalism, yet the speaking fees for the guests in this seminar series are typically between $10,000 to $50,000, according to allamericanspeakers.com, although exactly how much Klein is profiting from this particular talk is not known. These immense costs leave me wondering if this is truly the best use of university resources.
This seminar series is supposedly meant to educate, but with only one political perspective being brought, seems instead as if it is trying to indoctrinate. If the seminars were truly meant to educate and inspire discussion, then all diversity would be brought in, especially diversity of opinion, which is something that academia seems to no longer welcome.