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Indiana Daily Student

LETTER: Anti-Chinese hate could go white-hot on Monday in the IUSG Congress

A member of IU Student Government is attempting to pass a statement in Congress on Monday to condemn China, under the guise of a human rights argument.

This bill's intentions are xenophobic, racist and threatens the actual lives of students here. We need to be outraged.

After IUSG sponsored a call with Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, many viewers were inspired, but dozens of IU students also took to social media expressing outrage with the university. Chinese international students, numbered at more than 2,500 at IU-Bloomington, felt uneasy being associated with a university that took a position against their government.

While this exhausting national election week suggested this matter would go away on its own, a representative is taking advantage of this anger to push a sweeping bill on Monday, condemning China, while framing Chinese students as ignorant communists who support authoritarianism and human rights violations.

This bill is not authored by someone with a background in human rights or the nuances of Chinese history and politics. It is authored by IUSG representative Matthew Ahmann, a finance and real estate major. According to his LinkedIn page, Ahmann is a member of the far-right organization Anti-Communist Action, and is the president of IU's Turning Point USA chapter. TPUSA is categorized by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center as a haven for far-right fringe extremism.

When I warned Ahmann that a bill like this will fan the flames of hate against our thousands of Chinese and Asian students, potentially risking retaliation from the Chinese government by association because of anti-dissent laws, he replied he had a hard time sympathizing with communists.

On social media, his rhetoric is hostile. On an Instagram post by a Chinese international student echoing the concerns of the Chinese Students & Scholars Association at IU, Ahmann made his vendetta against the Chinese government personal to the post’s author.

“Shame on you for harvesting organs of prisoners, destroying democracy and free speech, and being the modern day equivalent to the third reich when it comes to muslims,” he commented.

If Ahmann is committed to protecting the human rights of Chinese people, he will drop this bill that puts IU’s international students in danger.

Ahmann is callously inciting hateful, fringe and xenophobic tropes to further risk the safety of Chinese students, who are already experiencing higher rates of hate crimes here due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety concerns for Chinese nationals involved with IUSG are too real for comfort.

The perceived benefits of a student government condemning human rights abuses on the other side of the world do not outweigh the very real educational, financial and physical risks there will be for the students and their families represented by our student government.

We invite members of the public to stream tonight’s meeting via Twitter at 7:30 p.m. If you would like to give public comment, then you should contact your member of congress. Make your voices heard to those who represent you.

Nathan Ryder

IUSG Representative for the College of Arts & Sciences

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