GWU Apologizes for Recommending Book Equating Conservatism With Racism

July 23, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

George Washington University’s Office of Diversity has apologized for including a book equating conservatism with racism in its recommended reading list that aimed to educate students about racial justice.

The “Solidarity Resource Syllabus,” released by the office in early July, provides links to outside resources that cover a range of topics such as black experience, so-called “allyship,” decolonization, and social class. According to The Washington Free Beacon, the syllabus’ reading list originally included “Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same” by Robert C. Smith, a professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

After the Beacon sent an inquiry about the list, the office reportedly restricted the public access to the reading list containing the book, which labels all conservatives in the United States, regardless of their race, as racists. It later confirmed the book’s removal and offered an apology on its website.

“The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement apologizes for the harm that members of the GW community experienced as a result of us listing a book about an author’s opinion on conservative people as a resource,” the July 22 message reads. “We removed the book and continue to engage with community members impacted. Our team remains open to receiving feedback from the GW community as we continue working toward a more diverse and inclusive GW community.”

In his 2010 book, Smith argues that the conservative movement in the United States, which led to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was “based on appeals to white supremacists and racists.”

“Repeatedly I was asked, ‘Are you saying that conservatism is racism, that all conservatives are racist?’ ‘Aren’t there black conservatives? Are they racist?’ ‘Are millions of Americans who supported President Reagan racist?'” Smith wrote in the book’s introduction. “My answer to most of these questions was a qualified yes.”

“Conservatism as a set of ideas is hostile to African Americans,” he claims. “Reagan as a candidate and as a president expressed this hostility, and the means by which he ascended to national power was rooted in a movement that was hostile to African Americans.”

The conservative voice on GW campus decried the recommendation of Smith’s book as promoting prejudice. The GW chapter of conservative student organization Young America’s Foundation called the inclusion “despicable” and “demoralizing.”

“It’s no surprise that GW is mainly a left-leaning school, but we would never expect GW’s administration to blatantly come out and label a group of students as racist,” YAF’s GW chapter president Gillian Hand told the Beacon. “It was great to see…GW come out and acknowledge that they were wrong.”