University president criticized anti-CCP artwork, then backtracked after learning about Uyghurs
'Upon full understanding, I do not view these posters as racist,' the president of GWU wrote in a statement clarifying his stance on artwork posted around campus.
A Chinese-Australian artist created the works that criticize Chinese government's policies, including the government's discrimination against Uyghurs.
The George Washington University's president recently backtracked his critique of artwork students had posted on campus that criticized the Chinese government for its abuses against Uyghurs.
In a Feb. 7 statement, university President Mark S. Wrighton admitted that he did not initially understand that the artworks were created by the "Chinese-Australian artist, Badiucao, and they are a critique of China’s policies."
Wrighton added that he "learned" about this distinction from the " university’s scholars."
Wrighton's initial condemnation of the posters was expressed in an email reportedly sent to the artist that included a vow to "undertake an effort to determine who is responsible" that "personally offended" him.
On Feb. 6, Badiucao tweeted a screenshot of the email as well as photographs of the artwork in question.
1. In response to CSSA, GeorgeWashington Uni @GWtweets president @PresWrightonGW claims he is “personally offended” by my art criticising China’s rights abuse like Uyghur genocide & oppression in Tibet & HongKong.
I demand him an explanation why exposing CCP’s abuse offends him. pic.twitter.com/Bm5k2nFAJ4
— 巴丢草 Badiucao💉💉 (@badiucao) February 7, 2022
Wrighton's initial reaction was informed by outrage from the George Washington University Chinse Students and Scholars Association (GWCSSA), according to The Spectator World reporting.
"Upon full understanding, I do not view these posters as racist; they are political statements. There is no university investigation underway, and the university will not take any action against the students who displayed the posters," Wrighton's new statement reads.
The artwork featured athletes wearing Chinese uniforms participating in the Beijing Olympics and human rights violations committed by the Chinese government. One poster showed an athlete using a security camera as a snowboard. Another showed a figure skater cutting through the Hong Kong flag’s flower insignia, and a marksman shooting a Uyghur.
Campus Reform reached out to Wrighton's office for comment and was referred to the president's published statement.
The university's College Republicans chapter released a statement on Wrighton's reversed decision.
“The Executive Board of GW College Republicans fully support the expression of free speech on campus criticizing the Chinese Communist Party and their role in the Uyghur Genocide," the statement reads. "Furthermore, we appreciate President Wrighton’s message of clarification today."
Campus Reform reached out to Badiucao and GWCSSA for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.