Earlier this week, a white student at Yale called the police on another student, Lolade Siyonbola, presumably because she was black. After some back-and-forth about the validity of the racism claim, investigators on the internet dug into Sarah Braasch’s background and found a long history of racist blog posts and Libertarian belief systems, including a vehement opposition to hate speech legislation.
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As if that wasn’t enough, another friend of Siyonbola, fellow Yale student Reneson Jean-Louis, wrote a lengthy Facebook post in which he recalls a February 24 incident where Braasch called police on him as he made his way to the 12th-floor common room in the Hall of Graduate Studies. Siyonbola had invited him there for a meeting.
According to the post, Jean-Louis joined Braasch (whom he had just encountered for the first time) in the elevator and rode with her to the 12th floor. This is, for the record, the same dorm from this week’s incident.
Jean-Louis reportedly had not been inside the dorm before and lost his way, looking for the same common room Siyonbola was napping in earlier this week. He texted her asking for directions when he encountered Braasch again.
Thinking her friendly, he asked her where the common room was located, at which point she “blocked the Common Room’s door entrance,” preventing his entry.
“The individual then began talking over me and called me an intruder even though I told her I was a lost Yale student waiting on assistance from a friend, hoping to attend a meeting. She continued to verbally assault me from the twelfth floor claiming that I ‘didn’t belong here’ and I was making her ‘uncomfortable.'”
Eventually, Braasch left and Jean-Louis met up with Siyonbola who let him into the common room. As she made her way downstairs to grab refreshments, she ran into two police officers who said they were responding to a call about a “suspicious character” on the 12th floor.
She told them her friend was on that floor and had just been “verbally attacked” by a resident, who she believed called the cops. Officers asked Siyonbola to describe her friend. “Black, that’s all,” she said, according to the Facebook post. Because Jean-Louis had Siyonbola to back him up, the interrogation from police was brief.
The same can’t be said of Siyonbola’s brush with police after Braasch’s call. Siyonbola spent twenty minutes in police interrogation as they attempted to verify that she was, in fact, a Yale student and not a squatter.
Police wanted to verify her in the school’s database (in spite of her possessing a student ID, a functional Yale email address, and a key which opened her dorm room), but her name is misspelled in the database which delayed police verification.
Siyonbola recorded two videos of the incident, one depicting Braasch’s call to police as she informs Siyonbola that common rooms are “not for sleeping.” The other showed her interaction with police. The virality of the videos tipped the world off to the incident.
The Grio did a little digging into Braasch to discover what could drive a person who presumably knew the “perpetrator” in question, since they shared a dorm building, to make such a call.
Based on their findings, Braasch seems to subscribe to libertarianism, the laissez-faire offshoot of the Republican Party where conservatives hide their racism by claiming they support “personal liberties” but without any government intervention to protect said liberties.
Braasch’s libertarian views go back to her days in middle school, according to a blog post she made on The Humanist in 2010 (The Humanist has since deleted the post for its racially-charged content). Apparently, her teacher that year was hosting those very common pro/con debates.
Braasch recalls being asked to debate the Civil War, and she won the debate using pro-slavery arguments.
“I was placed on the pro-slavery side of the argument. I remember spending many an hour in the local public library poring over Time Life books… And then I had a eureka moment. Some—not many, but some—of the slaves didn’t want to stop being slaves. A small number wanted to remain with their owners or return even after being freed. I knew I had just won the debate.”
She did win the debate, according to her recollection. And she won with a reasoning that would make Rand Paul proud:
“The pro-slavery contingent defeated the abolitionists because, in a democracy, in the land of the free, who are we to tell people that they can’t be slaves if they want to be? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be free? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be regarded as fully human?”
Which lever do I pull to get crushed by a safe?
The best part about this particular blog post is that she wasn’t even debating slavery – somehow, she managed to ride that tangent from a discussion about a law banning burqas in public spaces.
She starts off fairly strong, stating, “for the record, I am an incipient First Amendment lawyer and a staunch church-state separatist.” She supports the separation of church and state, which is wonderful considering it’s quite literally a cornerstone of the founding of this country.
The train jumps right off the track after that. “I am an intractable free speech defender and a vehement opponent of hate crime legislation,” she writes, just before voicing her support for France’s proposed burqa ban and support for a hypothetical ban in the United States.
No idea how she managed to conflate free speech, religious freedom and banning burqas in one concise paragraph but perhaps that’s what Yale tuition pays for.
In that blog post, she lightly touched upon her opposition to free-speech legislation but took to Patheos a year later to elaborate because where would the world be without this woman’s wackadoodle opinions available for all to see?
“I saw a woman in niqab on the UC Berkeley campus the other week. I was shocked… And, appalled. Here was a woman (or, at least, I assume she was a woman)… engaging in a brazen act of gender segregation and slavery… I think it is a great shame for a woman living in a secular democracy to perpetuate a barbaric, patriarchal religio-cultural tradition when women are fighting and dying across the globe to be free from gender segregation and slavery.”
As the post continues, she notes that she wrote of “witnessing this barbarism on the UC Berkeley campus on the English-language Facebook page,” a post which received criticism from Muslim activists.
She was most upset by the notion that her appalling behavior was deemed a hate crime by those activists, and then explained why she couldn’t possibly have committed a hate crime:
“Hate crimes legislation is stupid. Seriously stupid. Abominably stupid. I hate hate crimes legislation. But, I love hate speech. Hate crimes legislation has a chilling effect on free speech and freedom of association.”
In the typical libertarian defense, Braasch substantiates her own hate by conflating the subjugation of minorities for the harsh crime of trying to live peacefully as themselves to an oppressive government who silences its defectors.
The scariest part about Braasch is that she is arguably an incredibly intelligent person. She is currently attending Yale in pursuit of her fifth degree, a PhD in philosophy. She’ll add this trophy to her two engineering degrees, a law degree, and the master degree in philosophy which preceded her PhD.
These are exactly the types of “intellectuals” that Trump and his cronies point to when trying to defend their virulent racism and general hatred.
As a white author, I have to take a moment to plead with other white people: STOP CALLING THE POLICE ON POC FOR EXISTING.
This should not need to be a discussion in one of the most advanced societies to date, and yet, here we are.