Thanks to a viral Twitter post, students in Dublin City University (DCU) and the wider public were informed that there’s a computer science lecturer in the institute that runs a racist and Islamophobic blog. Having then viewed the rest of the blog students reacted with disgust at its contents. And they discovered it’s run by “Pro-West” and “Pro-Israel” lecturer Mark Humphrys.
The blog has a “Black Lives Matter” section where he writes that the idea that “Blacks are unfairly targeted by racist US Police — is a lie and is not supported by the evidence”. He claims that the Black Lives Matter movement created “more crime and more suffering” for poor Black people. He describes the late George Floyd as “another useless criminal who dug his own grave” while calling his murderer, Derek Chauvin, “a 20-year veteran decorated for bravery”. Humphrys also wrote it’s “harsh” that Chauvin was tried and convicted of murder. Going on, he declared that “if the cop was Black and the suspect white, he would never have got a murder charge”. It’s more likely that a Black police officer would have been given a harsher sentence than Chauvin, if this hypothetical situation were true.
Humphrys has regularly made racially charged remarks about activist and University College Dublin (UCD) student, Ibrahim Halawa. Yet he claims he’s not racist. Halawa was born in Ireland, grew up here, and obviously describes himself as Irish. But Humphrys has a tweet doubting Halawa’s Irishness. The DCU lecturer insists that students are defaming him for calling him racist. But on the other hand Humphrys had no problem defaming Halawa by claiming that he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Colm O’Gorman section of his blog. Essentially, Humphrys called Halawa a terrorist and has faced no consequences for this.
Being a Zionist, Humphrys has no love for the Palestinians and their struggles either. He’s called the Palestinian people “violent, intolerant, racist, Islamic religious fanatics who are fighting to set up a tribal Islamic state in which there will be no democracy and no human rights”. In fact, he’s argued that the Queers for Palestine group is equivalent to “Gays for Nazi Germany”. He denies that Israel is carrying out a genocide on the Palestinian people,despite all the evidence. Like South Africa all those years ago, Israel is an Apartheid State. As former South African leader Nelson Mandela once said, “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
It doesn’t end there either.
Recently another Twitter user shared a tweet where Humphrys claims that men cannot be raped by women, especially if they are “undeveloped or unwilling, they have to get hard”. Men have come forward to slam this suggestion and male survivors of sexual assault have also privately messaged to voice their disgust.
This blog has caused a lot of outrage and so has the statement DCU published in relation to the uproar. In it the university maintains that Humphrys is entitled to his opinion as it was made in a “personal capacity” even though DCU did try and distance themselves from these views. But racism and hate speech is not an opinion. And this was the message that students were trying to push at the Black Lives Matter protest held outside The U on Friday, 26 November.
“Privately held racism is still racism”
The protest was organised by myself and People Before Profit’s (PBP) local area representative for Clondalkin, Darragh Adelaide. We are both students at DCU. Given this, we decided it was right to organise the protest as a majority of students were outraged at Humphrys’ views. Both of us also wanted to promote the views and voices of the BIPOC community, and felt that a protest was the best way to have our voices heard.
Roughly 200 people were in attendance on that Friday. This protest got full support from the DCU Students’ Union, who wrote in a statement that “privately held racism is still racism”. Members of the Black and Irish group also supported the protest, writing an open letter to DCU’s president, Daire Keogh. We arranged for seven speakers: Two from the DCU Africa Society, two from DCU LGBTA Society, the USI’s Vice President for Equality & Citizenship, Bukky Adebowale, and Ibrahim Halawa. DCU Law lecturer, Bashir Omoniyi Otukoya and UCD SU’s Diversity Officer, Paula Martinez also offered to speak at the protest.
One speaker remarked that only the BIPOC community “get to define what is or isn’t prejudice”. Despite this Humphrys and his supporters have been claiming that what he’s written is not racist and questioned why people would be offended by it.
Otukoya told the crowd, “I want to get rid of the lie that lecturers leave their own personal thoughts at home because I am a lecturer and I know that they don’t”. This was arguably one of the most important comments made at the protest. He also remarked that “Not all your lecturers are racist”. It must be noted that the Department of Law and Governance at DCU gave unequivocal support for the protest and the students protesting.
For her part Adebowale touched on how she’s angry that DCU only seems to care about BIPOC students when it can put them on its prospectuses in order to claim that the university is “inclusive and diverse”. She said she will not stop until this is sorted. Adelaide not only touched on the racism that’s taking place in DCU, but the racism in direct provision. Amanda Rose from DCU’s Africa Society also recited a poem about the late George Nkencho.
I touched on the difference between freedom of expression and hate speech, as this was my dissertation topic when I was a student at UCD. It’s worth noting that all these free speech warriors did not want our protest to go ahead even though a protest is one of the many ways you can exercise your freedom of expression. What is also ironic is that free speech lover Mark Humphrys now wants to sue people for calling him “racist” and “Islamophobic”. “Free speech for me, but not for thee”, as the saying goes.
We want to stress that the protest was not a “Sack Mark Humphrys” protest. Our critics have claimed that this protest was only about Mark and that we are trying to end his career. While Humphrys certainly got a few mentions from our speakers, it was more about promoting the voices of Black, Muslim, POC and Immigrants.
I don’t know how students who are members of these communities can attend Humphrys’ lectures knowing what Humphrys thinks about them. The simple fact is that racism has no place in DCU and the fight against it is certainly not over!
Christine O’Mahony is an Irish-Caribbean postgraduate student of Political Communications at Dublin City University. She holds a LLB International in Law from Maynooth University and an LLM in International Human Rights from University College Dublin. She currently works as a Journalist with Meath Live and is the communications officer for the Meath branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch.
Featured image via Christine O’Mahony