Until recently, I considered myself very lucky to go to a school like Fordham University. It is a classic college campus in one of the best cities in the world, and it has a surprisingly vibrant conservative student body. Granted, this is still a center-left school, but belonging to an active College Republicans chapter is something that I know very few students have the chance to do, especially when we have a relationship with the College Democrats that is more cordial and bipartisan then most other places (see: Congress). So when we asked Ann Coulter to come and speak, we expected a stimulating environment, but what we got instead was a mob more bent on ad hominem attacks against the club and the speaker, and a university president that engaged in public shaming rather than the intelligent dialogue he claimed to support.
The story of our club bringing Ann Coulter to campus, as told by groups like Salon and Mediaite, tells a story about how our club apologized over inviting her, citing that “we failed to thoroughly research her before announcing, that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it.” People would also be led to believe that we did so after our University President, Father Joseph McShane, S.J., sent out a campus-wide email criticizing us on our “maturity” in the decision to invite her. As a result, we had to rescind our invitation, to the disappointment of many in the club, myself included.
There are some things that should be clarified from this instance. First off, the decision to cancel the event was made hours before Fr. McShane sent out the unnecessarily condescending email to the entire student body. It was nothing more than an attempt by Fr. McShane to make himself seem important in the decision, as well as a chance to insert his own remarks about the event that had already been approved. Had he come to us first, which is what he should have done, the email would’ve been unnecessary. To me, this was personal, because we as a club have been one of the best organized at the school, and he tosses us under the bus to score points with alumni and the anti-Coulter lynch mob that descended on us, which was loaded with attacks on fellow members of the club, threats of inciting riots at the event, as well as people attempting to heckle or attack Ms. Coulter. The dialogue that Fr. McShane was trying to promote in his letter was not evident from the many Facebook groups.
He referenced the hate-crime events from last year, where racial and homophobic slurs were painted on students’ doors, and his administration was criticized for not handling the situation in a timely and effective manner. It seems that he is now going overboard on anything he sees as hateful, even though comparing Ms. Coulter to hate-filled vandals is an outlandish allegation, and calling out our club in the process took it to an unnecessary level. While he allowed the event to go on, it had already been cancelled (which he would’ve realized if he made the effort to reach out to us first).
I would’ve let the event go on, but unfortunately my club’s executive board caved in and actually apologized over inviting her. I’m not sure what stung more, the university president calling us out, or being stabbed in the back by our club’s elected leaders. There is no other word for it: we surrendered. If there is one thing conservatives do not do, it’s throw up the white flag in the face of mob tyranny, especially when the College Democrats, of all people, were helping this event proceed. Rather than this event be a show of strength, it was a show of weakness, helped along by the high-handedness of our administration.