St. Mary’s City, MD – A small auditorium at a liberal arts college in rural Southern Maryland was the setting for a lecture by a controversial national figure. Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of a march held in Washington, DC earlier this year, visited St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 8 to deliver the latest speech in the school’s Margaret Brent Lecture Series. The lecture series, which was established in 1981—one year after Sarsour was born in Brooklyn, NY—is sponsored by SMCM’s Women, Gender and Sexual Studies Program, and the Lecture and Fine Arts Committee.
Approximately 200 people, most of them students of SMCM, which enrolled approximately 1,800, filled Auerbach Auditorium to listen to Sarsour’s remarks and participate in a brief question and answer session.
In addition to being a co-organizer of the Jan. 21 Women’s March—the largest single-day civil protest and activist engagement in American history—Sarsour is noted for being the former director of the Arab American Association of New York and a member of Justice League NYC. She has received awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).
Noting that, in her time, Margaret Brent—a 17th century social activist and feminist who migrated from England to America, settling in St. Mary’s County—had “not a lot of nice things said about her,” Sarsour said is not surprised by the criticism she has drawn. She told the audience that when someone organizes to fight “phobias” such as those fueled by race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, “people are going to critique you. I believe dissent is the highest form of patriotism. America did a lot of good for a lot of people but made some horrible mistakes.”
Sarsour cautioned the audience not to accept the notion that the American Civil Rights Movement is a thing of the past. “Actually, the Civil Rights Movement is right now,” she declared. “We are recording our history in real time.”
The speaker told the students there were five things they should get in the habit of doing now before they venture into the real world. They are—get to know your neighbors, vote, show up, lend monetary support to organizations they believe in and be informed.
“I am unapologetically Muslim-American,” said Sarsour. “I am unapologetically from Brooklyn, New York.”
The announcement of Sarsour’s appearance at SMCM drew criticism from Southern Maryland lawmaker Mark N. Fisher, a Republican member of the House of Delegates. Fisher, who represents portions of Calvert County, stated in an opinion piece that “Linda Sarsour has called for Sharia Law in the United States and has said that Muslims should not assimilate. Moreover, Ms. Sarsour is a well-known anti-Semite. For too long, radical one-sided Leftists have been the only speakers allowed on college campuses. Free speech should include speakers from all points of view. Put simply, the college should include conservative speakers as well. It appears that St. Mary’s College of Maryland is attempting to be a breeding ground for radical progressive views. “Fisher requested that readers sign a petition to be presented to SMCM President Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan, demanding that the college book a “prominent conservative speaker” and that the school not use “taxpayer money” to compensate Sarsour.
In addition to delivering the annual lecture, Sarsour was inducted into the Order of Margaret Brent. Other inductees include Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison and Angela Davis.
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