Guest Columnist

Klinzman: I won't aplogize for being anti-fascist

Iowa Hall (left) and Kirkwood Hall (right) are seen on the Kirkwood Community College campus in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hall (left) and Kirkwood Hall (right) are seen on the Kirkwood Community College campus in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

I was surprised when I was contacted by human resources at Kirkwood Community College. The complaint lodged there was anonymous, which causes me to question the complainant’s motives. I am proud to be a part of the college. We help shape young lives, and the college campus is a wonderful display of diversity. It is music to my ears to walk the halls and hear Spanish, French, and Arabic being spoken.

I am being targeted for social media posts which have no bearing on how I conduct myself in the classroom. I am accountable to my students, to my colleagues, and to the college. I certainly am not accountable to someone who hides behind the cloak of anonymity, or who will appear on camera to slander me even though he or she has no standing and no clue what I do in the classroom.

I am being targeted for my personal beliefs, and because I am a public employee. Whoever approached the college and KCRG TV-9 did so in ignorance of my teaching; the complaint is based on that person’s prejudices against me because of my politics, and because they want to exercise control over a public employee by getting me fired. Your source is interfering with my contractual relationship with the college, which may be a civil tort.

I have been warned to not appear on camera by friends who are concerned for my safety. Given the context where white supremacists have committed numerous acts of terror, is it wise for me to appear on camera? In the climate we are currently living in, how safe am I physically? Will these people even allow me to practice my profession? I cannot take that risk by appearing on camera to answer a trivial complaint.

I apologize for nothing I have posted. I was an antifa before the word existed: I confronted the Klan, the Nationalist Movement, and a white power summit, all back in the 1990s. I worked and marched with people in Dubuque, Janesville Wis., and Freeport and Springfield, Ill., who did not want white supremacists organizing in their communities. I am not alone in this struggle.

My conscience is clear. If I made a mistake, it was in not acknowledging that there are many people who consider themselves “evangelical Christians” who share my commitment to women’s reproductive rights, to LGBTQ civil rights, and to a society freed from racism, misogyny, and the poison of fascism. Those are the evangelical Christians I will apologize to, for we can join each other in the struggle.

I will not apologize for being anti-fascist. Stopping fascism is the only way we can become a truly free society.

Jeff Klinzman lives in Coralville.

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