The Cambridge University Conservative Association, alongside our colleagues, friends, students, and faculty across the University, wishes to express our extraordinary disappointment with the decision of the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Downing College, Pembroke College, the Master of Pembroke College, the Faculty of History, POLIS, the Faculty of Education, UCU Cambridge, the Centre for African Studies, the Centre for Latin American Studies, and the Centre for Gender Studies to offer funding for the event featuring Angela Davis later this month. While we do not question Davis’, or for that matter, any speaker’s right to come to the University and be heard, we find the decision to offer such extensive university support and official funding for the event to be wholly inappropriate and deeply offensive.
Angela Davis’ longstanding record of racism, anti-Semitism, and unapologetic support for murderous, totalitarian regimes around the world, whose victims include the students, faculty, staff, and supporters of the University of Cambridge, as well as their families, merits a strong reconsideration of University institutions’ decision to sponsor Davis’ appearance. Davis’ record of appalling support for mass-murdering extremists, from Jim Jones of the ill-fated Jonestown commune (where 909 people died) to Erich Honecker, whom she praised during a visit to East Berlin (whilst his regime was torturing political prisoners mere miles away) is as unconscionable as it is systematic. For decades, while Davis enjoyed extensive contact with senior Communist authorities around the world, she not only refused to use her position to support imprisoned and abused political prisoners – but instead actively supported their continued persecution, including that of Czech dissidents after the Soviet invasion of 1968.
To call Angela Davis a champion of human rights and “decolonization” is as inaccurate as it is offensive. Davis actively supported the Soviet Union’s active policy of anti-Semitic persecution throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when it refused to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate (in violation of the fundamental human right to freedom of travel and emigration). Instead, Davis famously called imprisoned Jewish activists “Zionist fascists and opponents of fascists” that should be “kept in prison where they belong.” Moreover, she did so in the context of accepting the Lenin Prize, the Soviet Union’s top honor in 1979, mere months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, one of the cruelest wars of modern colonialization and genocide against indigenous populations, which she pointedly refused to condemn. Over decades, including two campaigns as the Communist Party USA’s Vice-Presidential candidate, Davis openly supported the Soviet Union and other communist governments throughout the world, whose human rights abuses were well-known and well documented then, and even more so now – the traumas of which victims, their families, and entire societies live with to this day.
Indeed, it appears that Davis’ opposition to mass incarceration, political persecution, and support for indigenous populations against colonial ventures does not apply, and never will, when the perpetrators share her radical, Marxist views. This despite the sad fact that the vast majority of the victims of Communist regimes were indeed non-white, vulnerable civilians, with many of them from already-persecuted ethno-religious minority or indigenous groups. Whether they were the Baltic, North Caucasian, Crimean Tatar, or Korean communities targeted by Soviet authorities for mass deportation and
genocide, the Chinese minority in Vietnam that was subjected to pogroms and persecution after Ho Chi Minh’s victory, or the millions of innocents suffering today in North Korea, China, and Venezuela, Davis’ rank disregard for human life, and total absence of intellectual honesty, is fundamentally disqualifying for any speaker allotted funds by University administrators, Colleges, and Departments. Thus, we call on the leadership of the University, including the Vice-Chancellor, to immediately withdraw funding from the event and issue a formal condemnation of Davis’ appalling history of racism, anti-Semitism, and extremism.