The Ivy League, Political Correctness, & Concentration Camps in Xinjiang

Recently, I saw drone footage of concentration camps in China. Upon seeing the video, my first thought was “this looks like the Holocaust.”But take a look for yourself.

Although I had previously read articles on “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, I unfortunately had to see it to believe it.

I believe it is important to speak plainly on issues like these because of a quote I once read on how the Holocaust began.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. [When] they came for me, there was no one to speak for me. -” Martin Niemöller

As a former opinion columnist for my old college newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, I figured that writing a guest column would be the best way for me to spread the word about the injustice happening in Xinjiang. But I was sadly mistaken.

The newspaper chose not to publish the article citing the “sensitive” nature of the topic , calling it “unsuitable for publication at The Daily Pennsylvanian at this time”.

Given how frequently The Daily Pennsylvanian publishes articles on micro-aggressions and political correctness, I believe this decision is unacceptable. We cannot be outraged by micro-aggressions at home while, at the same time, remaining silent on the genocide taking place in Xinjiang in broad daylight. We cannot topple symbols of slavery at home, while simultaneously consuming products made by political slaves in China.

Moreover, given a recent Senate report describing China’s influence on the U.S. education system as “effectively a black hole,” due to universities’ failure to report foreign money, I believe it is vital that we make sure American universities are not sacrificing American interests for foreign investments. The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Yale University, and a plethora of other top college institutions, have all recently been investigated for failing to disclose millions of dollars in foreign donations from China.

As Reed Rubinstein, the U.S Department of Education’s principal deputy general counsel, notes in a letter to the U.S Senate, “Chinese money comes with “strings that can compromise academic freedom.” For example, this might cause the University of Pennsylvania and other Ivy League schools to be unwilling in providing a platform for students and alumni to address the concentration camps in Xinjiang, due to significant sums of money coming from China.

Given that these institutions are supported by American tax dollars and also supposedly responsible for promoting a liberal and open exchange of ideas in promotion of human rights, any outside force chilling this type of speech must be rebuked.

For this reason, I have shared the article I originally wrote for The Daily Pennsylvanian below.


Political Correctness & Concentration Camps

Drumline star Nick Cannon and Eagles WR Desean Jackson recently made headlines with anti-semitic remarks and sentiment. Both have since apologized, and make no mistake, apologies were warranted.

It is important to acknowledge that the reason such remarks deserve universal condemnation is for what they represent — which is the potential for another Holocaust, one of the greatest evils committed in human history. As a society, we owe it to those who perished in places like Auschwitz, to do everything we can to prevent such crimes from ever happening again.

Unfortunately however, without urgent action, we will fail in this effort. Something terrible is happening in China.

Recently leaked drone footage, shows Chinese prisoners in Xinjiang with their eyes blindfolded, heads shaved, and on their knees, near trains with darkened windows. While it’s long been suspected that the China’s Communist Party (CCP) government persecutes millions of Uighurs, an ethnic minority that primarily practices Islam, by detaining them in what it calls “re-education camps,” the video sheds light on something reminiscent of the darkest hours of the 20th century. According to an official Communist Party document, the presiding Chinese government likens Islam to a contagion and notes “Freedom [will only be] possible,” it adds, “when the ‘virus’…is eradicated.”

There have been numerous reports of organ harvesting in these camps. According to some reports, organs are removed even while these people are alive and conscious. There have been widespread reports of mass rape, torture, and forced sterilization. CNN recently reported that 13 tons of human hair intended for sale, originating from these camps, had been confiscated. Finally, some worry that the coronavirus may be especially deadly for Uighry prisoners confined to egregious living conditions in close quarter. In Wuhan, for example, many residents observed that the “incinerators were going around the clock”, despite the Chinese government reporting only 2,500 deaths for that region.

When asked about these allegations, the Chinese government has given unsettling answers. For example, the Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, when asked about allegations of sterilization in a recent BBC interview responded, “There’s no, so-called, pervasive, massive, forced sterilization among Uighur women in China. But, I cannot rule out single cases. For any country, there’s single cases.” When asked directly about the same video at the start of this article he says “I can not see it”.

If you believe that you can sit idly by, while the current generation of politicians handle this, you will be disappointed. According to John Bolton, a former adviser to the President of the United States, President Trump actually encouraged China’s President Xi Jinping to continue the concentration camps seen in the video above, calling them ”exactly the right thing to do”.

As a Penn alum, I challenge President Amy Gutmann, school faculty, administrators, fellow alumni and current students to take a leading stance on this issue. Currently, The University of Pennsylvania receives at least $67 million, with allegations of more undisclosed foreign funds, annually in donations from Chinese banks.

I implore the University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees to reject any further donations from China immediately and indefinitely, until China ends its horrific human rights’ abuses. If donations amounting to a measly $67 million is all it takes for the University of Pennsylvania, with an endowment of $14 billion, to turn its back to China’s horrific concentration camps, I will return my degree. We cannot be outraged by racial injustice at home while remaining silent on genocide taking place in broad daylight. We cannot topple symbols of slavery at home, while simultaneously consuming products made by political slaves in China.

Silence on this issue may also have consequences closer to home. Recently, President Trump ordered a secret federal policing force, later reported to be the Department of Homeland Security, to abduct protesters in Portland. This decision has led to reports of U.S soldiers pointing weapons at unarmed American citizens. If we let the CCP’s behavior in Xinjiang go unchecked, our concentration camp loving President or future leaders like him may be emboldened or inspired to imitate these practices on American soil.

Please keep in mind, while my aim is to bring light to humanitarian issues in China, in the United States we boast the world’s largest prison system. Do not underestimate America’s susceptibility to authoritarian rule. Some people, ideologues, will mask it as “law and order”.If it goes unchecked, the federal government will then keep this power, regardless of the political party in the Oval Office.

To all faculty and students, this is not a drill. If you don’t speak up now, you may discover by the end of this decade that your silence made you complicit in a crime against humanity rivaling the worst of the 20th century.

Take a Stand for Xinjiang. Just like you’d want someone to stand for you. Speak up. Vote and bring a couple of friends with you. And then, start planning to run for office in 2022. Tyranny is knocking at our door. If the wrong person answers, it might waltz right in.

We owe it to the millions that perished in the Holocaust, to the millions being persecuted in China, and to future generations to take a stand on this issue.

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