By One People's Project
The recent pieings of various right-wing speakers at college campuses across the country had generated quite a bit of discussion and media attention, but while it seems that the heat has been turned up on conservatives, it may simply be a reaction to how in recent years left-wing speakers and conferences have been barred from those same campuses. In October, Duke University caught hell after voluntarily hosting the Palestinian Solidarity Movement's annual national conference. This was a conference that had to be moved from Rutgers University after political pressure mounted. Meanwhile, the president of Columbia University had to appoint a commission to look into student charges that certain professors, with whose views on the Middle East conflict the students disagreed, were attempting to indoctrinate and intimidate them. The right's two-minute hate for the past few months has been University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who had written an essay arguing that the 9/11 attacks were a justified reaction to U.S. policies abroad. He was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Utica, NY, but that invite was rescinded after political pressure mounted again. Churchill is now trying to fight to keep his job after talk-shit host Bill O'Reilly began a campaign against him on his television and radio programs. Political pressure from Virginia Delegates Richard H. Black and Robert G. Marshall was also to blame for George Mason University disinviting filmmaker Michael Moore to campus on Oct. 28. Their argument was that the $35,000 fee was too high and the speaker too partisan. The fact that it partisanship was a factor is ironic given that black conservative pundit Walter E. Williams is in the Economics Department here. Last month, the Phi Beta Kappa Society rejected the University's application to start a chapter on campus because of the disinvitation.
Regardless of how one may feel about the pieings, in the end there is another factor in them. The targets have been those who many feel have been among those attempting to subvert society in the wake of years of unabated electoral victories. On those campuses scorn against the right has been noticed by the more right-leaning students. It is nothing new, they say. To them it is the fault not of students who actually pay attention to the society they live in, but the machinations of a left-wing faculty manipulating these vulnerable young minds. Conservative students have taken to going on the defensive, and have invited questionable speakers to their campus, and more right-wing student publications have been showing up. The underlying current however is ironic, given how they have complained of manipulation of students by left-wing professors. These students are themselves being funded and exploited by right-wing groups from outside not only the colleges, but in many instances the entire state itself. What's more, these efforts are promoting a more blatantly racist and divisive agenda that has been a staple in the history of the groups that are funding them.
Young America's Foundation is responsible for many of the right-wing speakers that have come on campus, often at the invite of conservative students attempting to harass the students of color. It was the stated intent of the College Republicans at the University of Michigan to counter the campus' celebration of Cesar Chavez day with an appearance of racist commentator Pat Buchanan who spoke on immigration and why it was wrong. This was where he was doused with salad dressing by Sam Mesick, Kalamazoo, Michigan chair of the Socialist Party USA.
But this was not the only place where the racial antagonism was seen. Professional speaker Warrior, who is better known as the former professional wrestler the Ultimate Warrior, is another YAF speaker that generated heat not just for racist comments, but for homophobic ones as well. On April 5, he spoke at the University of Connecticut, and slowly but surely began to piss people off with his remarks that "Queering don't make the world work" and by telling an Iranian student who he was arguing with (a video montage played prior to the speech showed Warrior tearing up the Iranian flag) to "Go get a towel." According to articles on the event, Warrior was opposed the most by a group on campus refered to as Tent City who wants the university to end its involvement with any companies or state organizations that have aided the war effort in Iraq. It became so out of control that security threatened to shut the appearance down. Even the College Republicans apologized for inviting him, but as a release they put out on the matter indicated, they felt they needed to fault others for what Warrior did. "We, as UConn College Republicans, have received no apology from any student who was disruptive during the Warrior's presentation," the release said. "Unlike us, they either do not have the courage or self-respect to say that they too were wrong. So we dare them to accept the challenge of responsibility that they too bear. Stand up and admit your mistakes as we have."
This did not go over too well with Warrior, who sent out a statement of his own. "It is somewhat sad to see how utterly spineless the UConn College Republicans have turned out to be," he wrote. "Not a single UConn CR voiced any objection to Warrior after the event. The detailed emails between Warrior and the UConn CRs reveal that the CRs repeatedly encouraged Warrior to single out the Tent City Trash for some re-education. Yet, it now seems that the CRs have collectively decided to bow down and beg forgiveness from various extremist, anti-American, left-wing groups who infest the UConn campus. Perhaps the UConn CRs should refrain from engaging in political activism until such time as they develop enough backbone to be able to withstand not being liked by their opponents."
While Young America's Foundation has not spoken on Warrior's appearance, Patrick Coyle, it's director of campus programs defended Buchanan's appearance at the University of Michigan. "As the event approached, many leftists complained of the timing because it was scheduled on a day to "celebrate" Cesar Chavez," he wrote in a recent column. "A city commissioner, faculty members and others all expressed their outrage that the conservatives would dare schedule a counter program to their events. This is a typical tactic of campus leftists. They always create an excuse in an attempt to cancel an event or silence ideas they dislike."
Young America's Foundation's speakers are just one way right-wingers have been trying to angle themselves onto college campuses. A few weeks ago there was a conference in Virginia for students that wanted to publish student newspapers. It was sponsored by a right-wing propaganda operation in Arlington, Va. called the Leadership Institute, which since it's inception in 1979 has worked to turn out right-wing activists and journalists. Among its best-known graduate is Republican strategist Karl Rove.
The Leadership Institute was started by Morton C. Blackwell, a longtime conservative activist that caught a little bit of hell during the Republican National Convention when in trying to mock John Kerry's winning of three purple hearts, passed out to delegates band-aids with purple heart decals on them carrying the message "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it." This, however also came across as mocking others who have received purple hearts and after a day of hell being raised because of it, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie asked Blackwell, who never served in the military to cease and desist.
Blackwell has a rather extensive history in encouraging right-wing student activism, as well as fundraising and funding conservative agendas. He was a delegate for Barry Goldwater in 1964, and in the 1970's he worked for right-wing fundraiser Richard Viguerie. At 42, Blackwell ran the Youth for Reagan effort in 1980, then served on Ronald Reagan's White House staff.
He is also a close associate of christofascist Paul Weyrich, whose Christian Right activism has extended itself to include support of racist groups in individuals. Blackwell served as treasurer of Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation. He also, along with Weyrich, Viguerie and Jerry Falwell helped found the Moral Majority in 1979. Blackwell and Weyrich also lead the International Policy Forum (IPF), and through this group Blackwell has trained rightist political forces in Latin America and Africa such as supporters of the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship, Argentinean rightists, and supporters of Inkatha chief Buthelezi in South Africa. It was Buthelezi's group that later attempted to create civil war in apartheid South Africa to keep those policies in place. Inkatha also worked with pro-apartheid and neo-nazi groups to stop the elections eventually won by Nelson Mandela.
On the American Conservative Union website, Blackwell wrote a piece saying that there was an unfinished conservative agenda and among the things that need to be deal with one of them was the belief that "Public policy groups should receive no taxpayer money to build more political power for themselves. This common practice is morally wrong and should be illegal." This makes him to be a hypocrite, as a number of IPF projects, including the Inkatha training, were aided by U.S. government funding through the National Endowment for Democracy." The Leadership Institute meanwhile is tax exempt, and it gets it funding for its $8 million budget from some wealthy donors, including Joseph Coors, who because his money in made in the beer business, always makes hypocrites out of these "moralistic" conservatives willing to take his money.
Some of that money recently found its way to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where a new Leadership Institute-funded publication called The Centurion debuted in November. It calls itself "A Journal of Conservative Thought at Rutgers University," but there is one thought - and one theme - that they prefer to indulge in: the idea that conservatives are the victims of discrimination by campuses that are against "intellectual diversity". That is the term that the right throws around whenever someone has voiced opposition to the things they advocate. In the first issue, Gary Cocco wrote an essay on this "problem", and included this passage:
"The problem is much less the fact that conservative ideas are no where to be found in our classes, but instead the malicious way these ideas are demonized when they are discussed. American history is taught at this university as a battle between good and evil, with conservatives and Republicans being the bad guys and liberal Democrats, the good guys. This is especially interesting since moral relativism is driven down the student's throats, which denies good and evil. Apparently, the only thing that can be called evil is not Hitler, nor today's terrorists, but only conservatives.
Considering the goal of diversity, how can this be? Should not conservative viewpoints, literally consisting of half the people of this country, be openly taught, appreciated, and discussed as with every other viewpoint and culture in this university? After all, one must not agree with conservative views to be diverse, one merely must accept, appreciate, and discuss it. This creates a richer learning environment that improves students' education and leads to better, more worldly graduates. To teach, learn, accept, and discuss conservative viewpoints, within the framework of diversity, would greatly improve the quality of education here at Rutgers, especially given the large number of adherents to these views in our country, and the important force they play in politics. It is unfortunate to say that this university feels it is more important to force its political views upon the student body and stifle and ridicule conservatives at the expense of the students' educational experience."
This pseudo-discrimination charge however is hypocritical. Their publication features no left-leaning writers, which by their own argument should have been the case. In addition, their website includes a link to that of Freak Republic, which does not celebrate "intellectual diversity" and bans those who do not uphold the conservative line in their posts. Both of these points tend to make those at the Centurion look rather silly when one figures in their reaction to the anti-war demonstration taking place on campus called Tent State University on April 18 to April 24. For the third year in a row this demonstration is similar to the Tent City at the University of Connecticuit and is in conjunction with other Tent State demonstrations at the University of Missouri - Kansas City and University of California - Santa Cruz. It includes students camping out at the University's Voorhees Mall, and will include workshops, protests, and other events, calls for full funding of higher education, as opposed to war. Those at The Centurion attempted to participate in Tent State despite the fact that they are supportive of the war in Iraq, which is particularly what has brought students out for the past three years. Their argument was that the Tent City website "says everyone is welcome to be a camper", but according to Tent State organizer Xavier Hansen, if an organization is not supportive of the pro-education, anti-war mission of Tent State, they cannot participate. As a result The Centurion is sponsoring a counter-protest to Tent State, citing their first amendment rights being violated. "We're very busy right now. There's a lot going on and we're not going to get distracted from our mission," Hansen said, saying further that they are welcome to counter-protest if they so choose. "Our mission is to save higher education, and no one is going to distract us from that task."
Meanwhile The Centurion has been soliciting supporters to join them. "The Centurion plans on flying The American Flag Proudly on Vorhees (sic) Mall," a recent email stated. "We plan on playing some patriotic music as well; Pretenders, Willie Nelson, Sara Evans, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kristy Jackson, Martine McBride, and most proudly, Darryl Worley's 'Have you forgotten.'" The addition of the Pretenders as "patriotic music" has been seen as comical, considering lead singer Chrissie Hynde was once quoted as saying, "Let's get rid of all the economic shit this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!" The closest thing to being regarded as patriotic music the Pretenders get is when Rush Limbaugh uses their song "My City Was Gone" as his radio show's theme song. It's a song protesting urban sprawl, and the duplicity of politicians, and Limbaugh says he uses it to annoy those on the left, including Hynde.
Whatever their arguments may be as it stands with tolerance of conservative ideals, they are offset by what those conservative ideals lead them to advocate in the first place. In their third issue, which came out during Black History Month, took repeated shots at African Americans On the cover was Paul Robeson, the famed black actor, singer and activist who was a graduate of Rutgers. He was attacked for his support of the Soviet Union and its leader Joseph Stalin. The attacks on Robeson are nothing new, and they are part of a convenient ignorance forgetting that whatever issues there are with Communism, the American caste system that made second-class citizens out of African Americans was far worse.
Robeson was someone who fought against those injustices of his day, and he believed that people of all faiths colors and cultures should be a part of what is in the end a diverse society. Apparently this is a problem for the Centurion editors. Also in this particular issue is a something written by Centurion founder and editor James O'Keefe titled the Conservative Manifesto. In the section "A Conservative is Politically Incorrect", O'Keefe stated that "Buzzwords like 'inclusion,' 'tolerance,' and 'diversity' are racist, hypocritical, and exclusive to, as Leo Strauss said, 'those who have stated clearly and forcefully there are unchangeable standards founded in the nature of man and the nature of things.'" Of course immediately after this passage, there is the obligatory opposition of affirmative action, which they also call racist "on the ground that they encourage racial identity, promote suspicion of minority success, and violate civil rights by putting skin color before character." Ironically the policies they promote did that long before affirmative action. In fact, while yet another article uses Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's words to make an argument against affirmative action as trampling King's dream "by a form of racism that was not practiced during the time of Jim Crow," King himself, who fought for affirmative action. Finally they decide to celebrate Black History Month by encouraging Black Conservatives and their books. One of those authors was the aforementioned Walter E. Williams, who once praised white supremacist Jared Taylor and his essay The Color of Crime, which makes the argument that African Americans are genetically predisposed to committing crime. In other words, while the editors of the Centurion call for "Intellectual Diversity", other forms of it are to be scorned and ridiculed. For the most part, students at Rutgers have rejected this reasoning.
Organizations like the Young America's Foundation and the Leadership Institute have been around for a long time, but they are now working to be more destructive to those that do not share their worldview. Left-leaning students however have not really seen their minions to be nothing more than a curiosity and a mere annoyance at times. In the end, these conservative elements are facing the same dilemma that neo Nazis find themselves in. In the end, the things they advocate have already been addressed, tried and rejected because they failed society. The advances conservatives have made are not because they have been proven wrong, but because people felt they had better things to do than worry about a bunch of loudmouths. The recent election, not to mention the manipulating of the Terry Schiavo case has caused some to think that it might be time to make some moves again. Those moves might launch from the campuses of America.