Photo Credit: Edward Kimmel
Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md)

Jewish Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md), who used to be a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law, was invited last week to deliver the Irving and Renee Milchberg Lecture at the University of Maryland, which he wanted to dedicate to the subject of “Democracy, Autocracy and the Threat to Reason in the 21st Century.”

As it happens so frequently on US campuses, Rep. Raskin was treated to a real-life experience of the loss of reason in the 21st Century, as moments into his speech, pro-Hamas protesters interrupted his remarks, accusing Raskin of being “complicit in genocide.”


Raskin underscored his firm stance on securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, supporting a military ceasefire, and advocating for a two-state solution. Despite his efforts to proceed with the lecture, the pro-Hamas protesters persisted in interrupting and shouting. Some protesters raised questions about Raskin’s actions following the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 – that was the “genocide” accusation.

“We need a fresh peace movement as well if you claim to represent it,” Raskin remarked. “Because simply shouting without engaging in genuine dialogue isn’t persuading anyone.”

According to Capital News Service, supporters from both sides, those backing Israel and those supporting Hamas, persisted in heckling and arguing, creating an environment where Raskin found it impossible to continue his speech. Consequently, he decided to abandon his prepared remarks and instead opted to entertain questions from the audience, further fueling discourse among the protesters.

Shortly thereafter, Darryll Pines, the university president, intervened and ended the lecture prematurely.

“He came here to speak about where our democracy is going in our country,” Pines told Capital News Service. “What you saw play out actually was democracy and free speech and academic freedom. From our perspective as a university, there are the difficult conversations that we should be having.”

“I’m not really opposed to heckling,” the congressman told CNN. “But it seems like heckling today is all about drowning out the speaker, and that’s totally antithetical to the spirit of free expression.”

Raskin emphasized that he has taken a strong position on returning the hostages held by H, has advocated a military ceasefire, and has championed a two-state solution. As he attempted to continue his lecture, protesters continued interrupting and shouting. Various protesters questioned Raskin’s actions since the H-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
“We need a new peace movement too, if you are the representatives of it,” Raskin said. “Because you’re not engaging in real dialogue with people and you’re not convincing anybody.”


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