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Dartmouth president stands behind rebuke of lecturer promoting anti-fascist violence; faculty hit back

Staff and Wire Report
August 29. 2017 8:34PM
Dartmouth historian Mark Bray. (C-SPAN)

Dartmouth College is standing behind its statement that lecturer Mark Bray is “supporting violent protest” in comments made to the media about antifa, the far-left activist movement that has clashed with white supremacists in recent months.

Bray is the author of a new book on antifa, whose members advocate using any means necessary, including violence, to combat white supremacy. During an appearance on “Meet the Press” last week, Bray argued that “when pushed, self-defense is a legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.”

Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon issued a statement repudiating Bray, and college spokesman Diana Lawrence said Tuesday that position “remains unchanged.”

“As an institution, we condemn anything but civil discourse in the exchange of ideas,” Hanlon’s Aug. 21 statement said. “The endorsement of violence in any form is contrary to Dartmouth values.”

Lawrence said she could not answer questions about Bray, a member of Dartmouth’s history faculty, because it involves a personnel issue.

More than 100 faculty members at Dartmouth have signed a letter calling on the president to retract the statement, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Monday. They said Dartmouth officials issued the statement without consulting Bray first and allowed his critics in the media to distort his remarks. Bray subsequently received death threats, they said.

“Professor Bray was exposed to violent threats, without so much as a basic effort even to warn him that the College intended to endorse the mischaracterization of his position and the implied attack on his scholarly standing by making clear he had no institutional support,” the letter read.

In their letter, Bray’s colleagues said that Dartmouth officials effectively threw him under the bus when they responded to a piece in the conservative site Campus Reform that said Bray had “endorsed antifa’s violent protest tactics.”

“By submitting the statement to such a site,” the letter read, “the college has placed Professor Bray and his family in Hanover in real danger, as well as undermining his professional reputation.”

A counter protester holds a sign with the words "Antifa" (anti-fascists) outside of the Boston Commons and the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Berkeley rally

On Sunday, antifa agitators wielding pepper spray and homemade shields stormed a small group of conservative demonstrators at an otherwise peaceful rally in Berkeley, Calif. Several people reported being attacked and 13 people were arrested, as The Washington Post reported.

Berkeley police on Monday defended their handling of the weekend protest.

Around 400 officers were deployed to separate “No to Marxism in America” demonstrators and “Rally Against Hate” counter-protesters, but police withdrew shortly after the arrival of a group of antifa, or “anti-fascists.”

As officers retreated, the antifa chased down rally-goers and Trump supporters, in some cases surrounded them and beating them while they were on the ground, according to video footage.

Police said they withdrew because they could no longer tell the two sides apart.

Information from The Washington Post and Union Leader Correspondent Meghan Pierce was used in this report.

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