University President Father Joseph McShane elegantly blasts the campus org for the invite, calling Coulter’s schtick “hateful and needlessly provocative.”
College Republicans at campuses around the country pay Ann Coulter plenty of buxxx to spew grotesque bigotry as entertainment. I attended Fordham and I was relieved to see this reaction to the invitation by Father Joseph McShane. Here is his statement (via Salon):
The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, has invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event is funded through student activity fees and is not open to the public or the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.
To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative — more heat than light — and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.
As members of a Jesuit institution, we are called upon to deal with one another with civility and compassion, not to sling mud and impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree or to engage in racial or social stereotyping. In the wake of several bias incidents last spring, I told the University community that I hold out great contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict pain on another human being because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed.
“Disgust” was the word I used to sum up my feelings about those incidents. Hate speech, name-calling, and incivility are completely at odds with the Jesuit ideals that have always guided and animated Fordham.
Still, to prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be to do greater violence to the academy and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement. Preventing Ms. Coulter from speaking would counter one wrong with another. The old saw goes that the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especially true at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty, alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly and respectfully, and forcefully.
The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with a test of its character: do we abandon our ideals in the face of repugnant speech and seek to stifle Ms. Coulter’s (and the student organizers’) opinions, or do we use her appearance as an opportunity to prove that our ideas are better and our faith in the academy — and one another — stronger? We have chosen the latter course, confident in our community, and in the power of decency and reason to overcome hatred and prejudice.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President
McShane had no problem with campus orgs inviting provocative guests to speak. He just stated his opinion that Coulter’s brand of political entertainment/commentary has no intellectual merit or value at Fordham University in advancing productive discussion on controversial issues.
Apparently around the same time Father was penning his thoughts about this, the College Republicans reacted to the campus blowback with a decision to withdraw its welcome mat for the doyenne of discriminatory dung-throwing. And the response to McShane’s statement was typical — they are being bullied.
“That wasn’t really appropriate from our university president. I love the president of my school but I think that if he had reached out to us before writing that email, he would have known [our situation]. I already met with Dean Rodgers and let him know what was going on. I think the president should have reached out to us,” said Conrad of Father McShane’s open letter to the university.
“It was hurtful to hear some of those words in regard to our organization,” Conrad said. “A lot of people give a lot of time and hard work. But for him to publicly call us out, not only to the student body but to alumni, I think that was unfair. This club has done a lot of good things on campus and to be recognized publicly for the first time I can remember was unfair and hurtful.”
Coulter, by the way, is officially mourning Romney’s loss. She whined to Laura Ingraham.
“I’m pretty pessimistic about the country,” she said. She said that Romney ran a “magnificent campaign,” a comment with which Ingraham strongly disagreed. “People are suffering. The country is in disarray. If Mitt Romney cannot win in this economy, then the tipping point has been reached. We have more takers than makers and it’s over. There is no hope,” Coulter said.