You may remember Ryna Workman as the NYU Law student who, as Student Bar Association President, wrote a breezy note which refused to condemn the Hamas attack on Israel. “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life. This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary. I will not condemn Palestinian resistance,” Workman wrote.
The elected student president of the NYU Law School Bar Association just sent out a message refusing to condemn Hamas’s mass slaughter and effectively cheerleading it. pic.twitter.com/mtn3ZUP4Li
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) October 10, 2023
It was left to NYU to point out the obvious, i.e. the mass murder of civilians is bad. They released a statement after Workman’s message was circulated:
The statement issued by the president of the Student Bar Association does not in any way reflect the point of view of NYU, which condemns the terrorist attack on Israel. Acts of terrorism are immoral. The indiscriminate killing of civilians and hostage-taking, including children and the elderly, is reprehensible. Blaming victims of terrorism for their own deaths is wrong.
The Student Bar Association also reacted and announced plans to remove Workman as the group’s president (which they eventually did).
Earlier today, the SBA President published a statement about the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine as part of the weekly bulletin email. The remaining members of SBA are writing to clarify that we did not write, approve, or see this message before it was published. SBA did not hold discussions about whether to issue a public statement about the conflict or the content of any potential statement. The ‘Message from the President’ reflects their personal views and does not represent the views of SBA as an organization or any of its officers. Under the SBA Constitution, our directive is “[t]o provide an effective medium for the expression of student’s views,” and we regret that today’s Message distracted from this mission.
This evening, the SBA Board voted to initiate the removal of the SBA President.
But the response which really made this newsworthy came from Workman’s prospective employer. After the note was published the law firm which had offered her a job changed their mind.
— Winston & Strawn LLP (@WinstonLaw) October 10, 2023
So what do you do when your post-graduation future goes up in flames? You start a GoFundMe of course. Since Oct. 25, Workman has accumulated a total of 26 donations totaling just under $1,900. What’s most interesting is how Workman describes what happened.
After speaking up for Palestinian human rights, my world has shifted in the wake of institutional backlash and targeted racist and transphobic harassment and doxxing. I want to continue to use my voice, but the lack of support from my school and the continued harassment online have made it incredibly difficult.
For me, this all began with a message I sent to my fellow NYU Law students, where I voiced my support for the human rights of Palestinians. My message came across as insensitive to the suffering of Israelis during a time of crisis, and that is not what I intended. I am surprised and disheartened that many have read malicious intent into my email. I intended to call attention to the lack of coverage about Palestinians and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza – a crisis that has escalated exponentially since I sent that email on Tuesday, October 10.
Workman didn’t just voice support for Palestinian rights. Workman explicitly blamed the murder and kidnapping of Israeli civilians on Israel and also explicitly refused to condemn Hamas’ murder of civilians. The message didn’t “come across” as insensitive, it was intentionally insensitive. Next we get into the portion of the fundraiser in which Workman claims to be the real victim.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been removed as student body president; some alumni have been campaigning for disciplinary action and even my expulsion from law school; the firm I had lined up to work at after graduation revoked my job offer; and I’ve been getting death threats online. The harassment campaign against me has targeted all facets of my identity – the fact that I am Black, the fact that I am queer, the fact that I am nonbinary. It is not only because of what I said but because of who I am that all this is happening to me.
Workman is apparently used to being untouchable. If you’re black, queer and nonbinary I guess you’re pretty close to the summit of the intersectional pyramid and that can be used to insulate you from criticism. But none of these elements of Workman’s identity are the reason her own school, fellow students and prospective employer distanced themselves from her. The reaction had everything to do with the ugly content of the message. But in classic woke fashion, all negative feedback is taken as proof of racism or homophobia or some other systemic problem.
ABC News asked Workman if there was anything that might have been said better or differently in that letter. Workman’s answer was effectively no.
Workman was also seen tearing down flyers of Israeli kidnapping victims. Not a lot of regret on display.
Remember Ryna Workman? The NYU law student who penned a letter of support for Hamas and had her top tier job offer rescinded because of it?
Now she’s on camera defacing posters of kidnapped Israelis! pic.twitter.com/Z4ksseWNUe
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) October 25, 2023
Workman seems to have learned nothing. How does a law school graduate wind up being so clueless?