Penn State professor falsely claims conservative student organization bears ‘responsibility’ for Capitol Hill riot

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(thepostmillennial)A self-described “distinguished” professor at Penn State University rebuffed his student’s request to advise the new conservative Young Americans for Freedom chapter on campus and falsely claimed that the group’s parent organization bears “responsibility” for the Capitol Hill riot.

Political science professor Pete Hatemi noted that in order to be an “unbiased instructor, he does not “take part in any campus political movement.” He stressed the importance that he does not influence students with his views and also that he himself is not influenced by such organizations.

“But in your case, under no condition, would I support any group that has an implied or explicit support for Trump, racism, sexism, or indifference to democratic values, including peace, liberty, freedom, and justice for all peoples,” Hatemi wrote in an email obtained exclusively by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

Hatemi also accused YAF of bearing the blame for the recent storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, questioning if the student’s national organization “has some responsibility for recent actions.”

The academic went on to offer “one piece of advice.” The chapter’s timing, Hatemi contended, “could be seen as offensive to many.”

“I suggest taking a moment, and a serious look at the political situation,” the professor advised, stating that “now might not be the time” to solicit for new members or advisors “given that many members of the Republican party supported an act of insurrection and violence” and “attempted to undermine a legitimate election outcome.”

Hatemi pivoted and insisted that “it might be time to reflect on what you stand for and what your organization stands for and to form a statement that defines your group.”

“In doing so, you may benefit by taking a position on what has occurred over the last four years leading up to the seditious acts of many members of the Republican party, Trump and his supporters,” Hatemi concluded. “Then once you have a defined position on what you are about and how you place yourselves in light of current events, perhaps reassess your membership or move your organization forward in a different direction.”

YAF at PSU’s chairman John Stafford clapped back in a fiery reply to the professor’s email, calling his claims “unsubstantiated.” The student asserted that YAF has “never advocated for violence” and to assert such allegations without evidence is “dishonorable.”

The official Twitter account of YAF even endorsed former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s words on that fateful day in Washington: “All summer long, we spoke out against the riots and violence across America. It was wrong then and it is wrong today.”

“I find your response insulting, not only towards YAF, but the entirety of the conservative movement,” Stafford rebutted, acknowledging that Hatemi’s research on political behaviors and attitudes inspired him to reach out.

When political polarization is concerningly high, Stafford emphasized that it is “important now more than ever for students to accept and welcome diverse opinions.”

“As you touched upon in your work, people may not be convinced to change their minds with more information,” Stafford pointed out, “but I fear that asking conservative students to quiet down will only ensure more intolerance among my peers.”

Stafford highlighted that YAF is a 501(c)(3) organization that cannot and has not ever endorsed political candidates or parties. YAF is founded on The Sharon Statement, a timeless declaration of conservative principles such as free enterprise, strong national defense, individual freedom, and traditional values.

“Finally, the assumptions that you made are nothing but biased,” Stafford volleyed. “You spent the majority of your email attacking my organization and wrongly assuming that we belong to an absurd narrative of violence and chaos, but you never once asked me about the organization or my motivations.”

Stafford encouraged Hatemi to research the history of YAF before “falsely maligning” the organization. “I will continue my search for a chapter advisor to ensure that my YAF chapter has a strong presence on Penn State’s campus—promoting freedom and standing against false narratives like your own,” he signed off.

“College is supposed to be a place where I am free to listen and learn,” Stafford told YAF. “Yet my experience has been filled with roadblocks and professors limiting me to the realms of their own ideologies. I am proud to be a member of YAF—I will not speak quietly or amend my beliefs.”

Stafford told The Post Millennial that although Hatemi’s words were “disheartening,” his commentary has inspired other professors and students to come forward to support YAF’s mission.

YAF’s legacy on Penn State’s campus stretches back to the ’90s, Stafford cited. “We are proud to be revitalizing the conservative movement on our campus today.”

Penn State did not respond to multiple requests for comment from YAF at the time of publication on whether or not if the administration shares the same sentiments. “It is Penn State YAF’s constitutional right to exist on campus—whether this professor likes it or not,” YAF wrote via press release. “To attack all conservative students and YAF by accusing them of supporting riots and violence with no evidence is disgraceful and unbecoming of a professor at an institution of higher education.”

“Now is the time for healing in our nation, and this professor and many others are only further stoking the flames of division with baseless accusations and attempts to censor true conservative speech,” the memo reads.

Hatemi claims in his email signature and biographies for the department of political science and the School of International Affairs to be a “distinguished” professor, yet obviously spent little time learning about YAF.

He spent the majority of his email chastising the conservative student who simply wants to create serious change on his campus. YAF has condemned mob violence on both sides of the political aisle, engages in peaceful activism, and does not support extremism. The professor could have discovered the truth on his own with a simple Google search.

“This professor’s treatment of a YAF activist was insulting and cowardly,” YAF’s assistant editor of campus news Kara Zupkus told The Post Millennial. “He spends the majority of the email leveling false claims and attacks, despite alleging that he is ‘unbiased.’ YAF denounced the violent riot, and does not take stances on political issues.”

Zupkus declared that professors like Hatemi are the “exact reason” why YAF chapters exist on campuses: “to stand up against leftist bullies and promote conservative ideas.”

“The modern professor: I will remain unbiased by never allowing students to learn about conservative ideologies,” YAF at PSU’s account on Twitter observed.

“Got to love when a professor calls themselves ‘distinguished’ but doesn’t even do research on the organization he tries to lambaste. Just goes to show the state of higher education today,” remarked YAF executive director Kyle Ferrebee. “Looks like pretty much anyone can get a degree.”

“Hatemi’s class was one of my favorites in undergrad, and this behavior is so disappointing,” commented Penn State alumna and Townhall web editor Reagan McCarthy.

NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck, another PSU graduate, tweeted: “I had a wonderful experience at Penn State and never faced real, hardened resistance to my conservative views. Unfortunately, 2010-2014 is now like 200 years ago.”

In 2011, Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts deleted its tweet that affirmed that conservative students are welcome on campus after liberal activists expressed outrage.

Hatemi was contacted for comment but has not responded by the time of publication.

Disclosure: The author of this article was the founding media chair for the YAF chapter at Boston University.

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