The other day I wrote about Austin Tong, the Fordham University student who’s been accused of a hate crime by his college for a pair of Instagram posts; one a picture of retired St. Louis police detective David Dorn, who was murdered during the looting and rioting in St. Louis, with the caption “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites and a second picture of Tong himself posted on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre showing off his new AR-15 with the hashtag #DontTreadOnMe and #198964, the date the massacre took place. Soon after posting that second photo, Tong was attacked online by classmates, and within hours several members of the school’s security team had paid a visit to Tong’s home.
As Tong explains on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, that was just the beginning of his troubles. Fordham University quickly declared that Tong’s social media posts violated university regulations on bias and/or hate crimes, as well as threatening or intimidating behavior, and told him that he couldn’t resume classes, even online, until he attended “implicit bias training.”
Tong followed up his photo with the AR-15 with a comment in which he explained that the post:
“is my appreciation toward the United States and the privilege in this country to have the right to bear arms, to have a populace that can defend itself from tyranny. Tiananmen Incident is a huge deal in my motherland and to my ethnicity, and so is civil rights in America, but this post is solely my belief that freedom comes from a strong and armed populace. Violence against any citizen should not be tolerated, and the Second Amendment protects us from that.
Despite that explanation, administration officials declared Tong guilt without even a trial or a chance to defend himself. Tong also says he was attacked by his fellow students, some of whom he’d considered friends, even after he offered up his reasoning behind the photo.
The irony isn’t lost on Tong that his family, who came to the United States in large part to escape Communist authoritarianism, now finds himself subjected to that same type of totalitarianism from the administration and student body of the Catholic university. Thankfully, Austin Tong isn’t rolling over or bending the knee. He tells Bearing Arms that he’s found a legal team to purse a lawsuit against the university, and he plans on filing suit shortly to clear his name.
It’s a sign of the malignant narcissism on display on the Left these days that a student who’s actually lived under Communism can be subjected to disciplinary measures for expressing the “wrong” opinion. Even beyond the outright attacks on Tong, the comment sections of both Instagram posts are full of Fordham students gleefully scolding Tong for his point of view.
“Austin, I am extremely disappointed that you are actively utilizing your platform to invalidate the BLM movement rather than using your time to facilitate conversations about the issues at hand/trying to raise awareness”
That was one of the comments under the photo of David Dorn, which Tong says he posted after the retired police officer’s death when he realized that the murder simply wasn’t being discussed by many Black Lives Matter activists. He’s right, as the reply to his post shows. No mention of Dorn himself, just an attempt to shame Tong for not focusing on “the issues at hand.” To see the university take the side of the Red Guards on campus isn’t necessarily surprising, but it’s still absolutely shameful. Universities are supposed to be places where students can be exposed to all kinds of ideas that they may disagree with, but Fordham seems to value rigid conformity over freedom of speech and expression.
I wish Austin Tong the best in his legal fight, which may face steep odds given the fact that Fordham is a private university. Still, the fight must be made, and Fordham University has found itself on the wrong side of the First Amendment as recently as last year, when the New York Supreme Court ruled that the school had violated the rights of several students who wanted to organize a pro-Palestinian club on campus. If those students have a right to form a club, then surely Austin Tong has the right to post a non-threatening photo on his private Instagram account showing him exercising his constitutionally protected right to bear arms.
Be sure to check out the entire interview above, including Austin’s advice for others who may find themselves in similar situations, as well as his reaction to the outpouring of support that he’s received since his story first garnered national attention.