Florida State University student Jack Denton is appealing his removal as student senate president, following a group message in which he accused Black Lives Matter and other groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), of advocating “explicitly anti-Catholic” things. Messages show he also implied that the organizations supporting LGBTQ people and the right to have an abortion were promoting “great evils.”
After his comments were made public, Denton was eventually voted out as student senate president. However, the young man who replaced him – Ahmad Daraldik – has also raised concerns among FSU’s Jewish population, who pointed out that Daraldik’s past social media comments swearing at Jews and equating the Israel-Palestine fight to the holocaust.
In light of calls for Denton’s replacement to be removed, Denton has appealed his removal and is seeking reinstatement, claiming that if the Student Government Association (SGA) allows Daraldik to remain despite his anti-Semitic comments, would show anti-Catholic bias.
Denton’s Private Comments Sparked Public Outrage
In an editorial written by FSUNews.com, Denton’s comments were laid bare. After his statement about Black Lives Matter advocating explicitly anti-Catholic views, multiple students asked him why and he responded:
BlackLivesMatter.com fosters a “queer affirming network” and defends transgenderism. The ACLU defends laws protecting abortion facilities and sued states that restrict access to abortion. Reclaim the Block claims less police will make our communities safer and advocates for cutting PDs’ budgets. This is a little less explicit, but I think it’s contrary to the Church’s teachings on the common good.
I didn’t mean to anger anyone – I know this is a very emotional topic. However, it is important to know what you’re supporting when you’re Catholic. If I stay silent while my brothers and sisters may be supporting an organization that promotes grave evils, I have sinned through my silence. I love you all, and I want us all to be aware of the truth. As far as it’s a religious issue or not, there isn’t an aspect of our lives that isn’t religious, because God wants our whole lives and everything we do to be oriented around him!
Denton’s comments sparked immediate backlash on campus from many LGBTQ students who said they no longer felt safe, knowing that he = as student senate president – was hostile to their very identities. This was especially because his comments came after the murder of Tony McDade, a black transgender man who was killed by Tallahassee police.
An initial vote of no-confidence on Denton’s presidency failed.
However, the FSU College Democrats group publicly denounced Denton’s comments along and two students – Emily Pacenti and Alanna Felton – wrote an op-ed slamming Denton for his “transphobic, racist, and anti-abortion comments” and saying that his words “send a dehumanizing message to womxn, trans, queer, and black students at FSU, and prove that he is unfit to hold the office of Senate President.”
Denton later issued an apology, but for many, it was too late. After a Change.org petition was started and more than 7,000 people signed on, a second vote of no-confidence was held on his presidency and he was eventually removed.
Denton’s Replacement Has Also Been Called Problematic
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Please be assured that Florida State University does not tolerate racism or hate speech. We take matters like this very seriously, and will review this information with our Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
— FSU Admissions (@FSUAdmissions) June 12, 2020
The current senate president, Ahmad Omar Daraldik, is a Palestinian-American who has been accused of anti-Semitism.
A Change.org petition has been started to have him removed as president and over 10,000 have signed to a 15,000 goal. According to the person who set up the petition, Daraldik, under social media accounts, has posts which included the statements “F*** Israel,” “Stupid Jews” and “compares the Israeli government to Nazi Germany’s genocide on the jews.”
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, University President John Thrasher said that he met with Daraldik and he also released a campus-wide statement, in which he said, “I want to take this opportunity to unequivocally state that we will not tolerate discrimination against groups or individuals.”
Daldarik defended himself by saying he was replying to the image of what appeared to be an Israeli Defence Forces soldier with this foot on a Palestinian child. “When I made that post in 2013 I was in Palestine witnessing death on a daily basis. They were not directed to the Jewish community as a whole or at FSU,” he said, according to the Democrat. A no-confident vote against him ultimately failed.
Denton Is Appealing His Removal
"Jack Denton says he was ousted from the role over his Catholic beliefs, after sharing his views on the ACLU and Black Lives Matter movement in a private message. He says the groups don't align with his religion." pic.twitter.com/0JSSU8XZ26
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) July 24, 2020
Denton said that the SGA will not let him appeal his removal, according to The College Fix. In his appeal, he said that the senate was not applying a neutral standard by failing to remove anti-Semitism, Fox News reported. “Rather, the student senate took action against me because it disfavored my religious speech in particular. This is ‘differential treatment’ of me based on my religion in violation of section 206.1,” he wrote.
Denton, who is on track to graduate from FSU in 2021, told Catholic News Agency that he believed his firing set a bad precedent and that he felt it was mob rule: “They did this because of the outcry,” he said. “It was quite scary to witness how this mob could influence all these senators in two days to just switch their vote and remove me as president, for being Catholic.”
He also said that he has nothing against the “statement, the sentiment” of Black Lives Matter, but he does have issues with the specific organization and potentially funding it. According to the Christian Post, Denton is being represented by the group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has sent a letter to the vice president for student affairs and has formally appealed to the SGA’s supreme court and Denton is seeking reinstatement.