Op-Ed: Austin Tong Was Wrongly Punished by Fordham University

W. Layshard
Jul 24 · 6 min read

Recently, a rising senior at Fordham University, Austin Tong was placed on disciplinary probation after he posted two controversial posts on Instagram in regard to the murder of David Dorn and the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He has been barred from campus and is now seeking legal action against the university.

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The post in controversy that shows Tong mourning the Tiananmen Square Massacre with a rifle.

On the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Tong posted a picture of himself holding a legally-purchased rifle with the caption, “Don’t tread on me. #198964,” with the date as a reference to the horrific event that saw thousands of pro-democracy activists brutally murdered by the Communist Chinese regime. However, this otherwise meaningful post became misconstrued to be a veiled threat against supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The day before Tong posted the picture of him commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre, he posted an image of the horribly-slain 77-year old retired police captain, David Dorn, with the caption “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites,” in an attempt to highlight the seeming lack of outrage over the murder of a black grandfather by looters.

Likewise, this statement also highlighted the hypocritical nature in which some hijack the Black Lives Matter movement to steal and kill, all the while shouting Black Lives Matter, with some on the left refusing to condemn such actions because apparently society is in no place to tell Black Americans how to react to injustices.

Mourning the life of someone that was killed is a good thing to do, but the “woke” left would have none of it. Fellow students and other Instagram acquaintances immediately accused him of being ignorant and racist. But what exactly is racist about pointing out how a black grandfather was killed by someone looting in the name of BLM?

Apparently, it just is.

Furthermore, some accused him of not actually caring about Dorn’s death because Tong did not mention Dorn’s name, and so argued that he simply used Dorn to make a statement against the movement.

One does not need to mention Dorn’s name to mourn him. You should know his name. If you don’t, it proves Tong’s point that there is barely any attention given to Dorn’s murder. By contrast, if someone had posted an image of George Floyd without mentioning his name, it wouldn’t be disrepectful to Floyd. We should all know who Floyd is and how he lost his life in a horrific event.

But regardless of what was in the post, the mob was bound to find something wrong with it because it didn’t fit their narrative. Take away the “Y’all a bunch of hypocrites” caption and they would still be complaining. Of course, not everyone on the left is part of the mob, but the mob has effectively taken control of the left.

Therefore, no matter what Tong would do next in the future, some radical students were bound to eternally view all his actions of that of a racist.

So when Tong decided to post a picture of himself with a rifle the next day to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre, those students immediately jumped to conclusions and accused him of threatening the Black Lives Matter movement, unaware that they were being ignorant about the hashtag which clearly stated the date of the massacre.

When some comments pointed out it was about Tiananmen Square, these radical leftist students refused to listen to the facts, but instead, opted to invent “alternative facts” and just had to relate this to the previous post. They then tagged the university’s Instagram page and the university made it clear that they would follow up on the issue.

The result: Tong was found guilty of being in “Violation of University Regulations retaining to Bias and/or Hate Crime” and of “Threats/Intimidation.”

Just who is being threatened in his two posts? People who loot and kill innocents? Or is it the Chinese Communist Party that has a million Uyghurs in concentration camps and is actively destroying democracy in Hong Kong?

It is unacceptable that Fordham would pander to the unreasonable people that don’t pay attention to facts. They saw a gun and immediately assumed he was threatening the Black Lies Matter movement, even though Tong specifically said it was about the “Chinese Democratic movement” in his explanation to the university.

But he has a gun you may ask? Yes, and we also have the Second Amendment in America.

The gun and Second Amendment rights have long stood as a symbol of protecting oneself from an oppressive government for some in this country, so it fits perfectly in the picture when discussing the Tiananmen Square Massacre. What bigger oppressive government is there than Communist China?

Posing with a rifle reminds us that Red China is one of those oppressive governments that we Americans must stand up to.

Again, the gun is a mere symbol in the context of the #198964 hashtag. Likewise, so is the saying “Don’t tread on me,” of which was used during the American Revolutionary War. This saying can be interpreted as being directed towards Communist China in that Tong stands with those seeking to free themselves from the tyrannical grip of the CCP.

It makes one wonder if Fordham is punishing this student because they really think he is a threat to the community — which shows poor judgement and implicit bias towards a conservative student — or if Fordham is trying to appease Communist China-friendly forces within the school. Even worse, maybe they just want to sacrifice an innocent student to appeal to the leftist mob to make themselves seem “woke.”

Personally, I think its the latter two. Fordham wants to appease a mob with no common-sense and they want to cater to Communist China.

Of course, I have no evidence that Fordham is doing this because they are funded by Chinese money, but why else would they punish a student for a post on the “political issues in China” as they stated themselves in the original notice to Tong (Beste, Campus Reform). It seems like a reasonable assumption to make, especially since the world seems to like coming up with crazy and unfounded accusations.

If the mob can outrageously accuse a student of engaging in activities related to “hate crimes” and “intimidation” against Black Lives Matter and those with liberal opinions based on two unrelated posts on David Dorn and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, then we can all accuse the university of being in cahoots with Communist China based on their actions.

Fordham University needs to apologize to Tong. He did not and does not deserve to go through what they are subjecting him to. We are America, not Communist China. We do not punish people for speaking out about the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and nor do we silence people for criticizing certain aspects of a movement.

If the university chooses to stand by their decision, then off to the courts it is. Tong already has a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/austin-tong-v-fordham-for-free-speech) that has raised over $63K in legal fees at the time of writing, and it is just bound to go up when more people find out about the university’s horrendous behavior.

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