Leiden Against Fascism replies to university: views of FvD are not “striking” but racist

Earlier this week, Leiden Against Facism (LTF) took action against the promotion of a job vacancy of the fascist party FvD by Leiden University’s Career Service Humanities. Although the vacancy was removed on Tuesday, the contents of the response from the university was particularly half-hearted. In a sharp letter, LTF replies. Below you can read full text.

First of all, thank you for the reply and the time you put into it. Also, of course, thank you for removing the LinkedIn post in question.

Nevertheless, we cannot be entirely satisfied with your response.

First of all, you state that the Career Service’s policy is to check vacancies for suitability for university students and recent graduates. However, this vacancy falls outside the scope of this policy, because it was mainly aimed at people following a “HBO programme focussed on communication, media, commercial economy”. Courses which, as far as we know, Leiden University does not offer. Additionally, the requirement of (J)FvD membership and being an “FvD supporter at heart” was also overlooked. So this was a vacancy that did not fall within your policy, and stated that the trainee should be or become a member of a political party. We find this an extremely strange situation and would like clarification on exactly how it came about that you published this vacancy.

In Dutch. In het Nederlands.

You say we can call FvD controversial, and that this party has “fierce supporters and opponents” because they have “striking views and statements”. We find it very remarkable that you include antisemitism, racism and other forms of hatred among “striking views”. We assume you are familiar with the fact that Baudet has been spewing a rhetoric of racial purity since his rise to fame, as he talks about how ‘they’ – in his opinion – “homeopathically dilute the Dutch population with all the peoples of the world”. Just this year, he expressed support for a speech by Orbán, in which the president cited Nazi delusions of a Europe ravaged by a spiritual chaos of nations caused by racial mixing. Nor do we need to remind you that this party is responsible for threatening journalists. To lump all these things under remarkable opinion shows either false intentions, or a truly harmful ignorance. These are real people, real students, real colleagues who are unwanted in Baudet’s “dominant white Europe”. This is about the real consequences of these “striking views and statements”, about the people who are victims of ideologically driven violence – and they are almost always marginalised people.

So by claiming with this weak and falsely neutral language that it is only about views and statements, Career Services completely misses the point.

It is shocking and disappointing, but not surprising, that people continue to treat FvD as an acceptable party as long as their violence is limited to already marginalised people – only to act once the damage has been done. By sharing a vacancy like this, Career Services is revealing which students they work for – regardless of the intentions when posting the vacancy.

On top of that, hiding behind the legality and popularity of the party is an argument that seems to lack historical awareness. It was not even a whole lifetime ago that a certain legal and popular party took power within the University. That event is commemorated by the University every year with the Cleveringa Lecture. In commemoration of Cleveringa’s protest speech, we do not agree that we should ‘make do with it’. 

In the 2021 Cleveringa Lecture, Carel Stolker spoke about the fact that academic freedom is essential for good science. FvD is characterised by an anti-scientific stance and has a penchant for conspiracy theories. This is the same FvD that had set up a hotline for reporting leftist teachers a few years ago. So it does not remain with statements. Besides the fact that sharing the vacancy may create an image of bias in the Career Service, sharing this vacancy diametrically opposes everything the university – of which you are indeed a part – claims to stand for.

Finally, we appreciate that you recognise that it was not right to highlight this vacancy and that you will pay closer attention in the future. We are genuinely happy about that! We also understand the difficult situation you have to navigate in responding to our emails. Nevertheless, we feel that the tone of your reply does not show a thorough awareness of the gravity of this misstep. Moreover, through this email, it is not entirely clear how this situation could have happened – where did the Career Service team search, that they were able to find this vacancy? How could it be that no action was taken at any point? Students’ trust in Career Service Humanities has been damaged. Indeed, the tone-deaf passages in this email show that the rest of the organisation at Career Service also has no regard for the suffering and damage the far-right inflicts on real people. Many of us will think twice when approaching Career Services or attending your events – do you see that? 

We look forward to your response.

Leiden Tegen Fascisme