Official BISR Statement on Bollyn Event at the Brooklyn Commons

As an organization committed to scholarly rigor and critical dialogue, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research is dismayed that The Brooklyn Commons proceeded with an event last night featuring Christopher Bollyn, a noted white nationalist, anti-Semite, and conspiracy theorist. It has become increasingly evident that our institutional mission does not align with that of The Brooklyn Commons, and we have made the decision to find alternate venues for all BISR programming going forward.

As scholars, we value the free and open exchange of ideas, and engage with individuals across a broad political spectrum. Yet given the nature of Mr. Bollyn’s highly specious arguments, we do not believe that the notion of free speech as a “marketplace of ideas” is reason enough to proceed with such events, nor that any productive exchange of ideas can actually occur in such settings. Commercial spaces are able to choose to whom they offer a platform; we regret that The Brooklyn Commons offered one to Mr. Bollyn.

Above all, our pre-eminent concern is always the safety and comfort of our students and faculty as we lower barriers for critical inquiry and learning. It is our opinion that a venue that hosts anti-Semites, white nationalists, and their friends not only has no place in progressive, left, or any space, but is also antithetical to any kind of pedagogically sound environment.

We look forward to welcoming new and returning students as our Fall Term begins.


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