The Young America’s Foundation reports on a disturbing instance of liberal “tolerance” on a college campus involving conservative writer Star Parker:
Herndon, VA â€“ Liberal administrators at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic university and private college in Minnesota, censored the appearance of prominent pro-life and black speaker Star Parker. On April 21, 2008, Star—the best-selling author of numerous books—was slated to speak on campus about the devastating impact abortion has on minority communities. UST Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney nixed the idea entirely, citing “concerns” that the lecture was being underwritten by Young America’s Foundation.
Katie Kieffer, a 2005 alumna of St. Thomas and founder of the independent conservative newspaper on campus, the St. Thomas Standard, as well as the non-profit Conservative Student News Inc., was an organizer of the Star Parker lecture. She confronted Canney on her refusal to allow Star on campus. “Our Catholic university has hosted two decidedly liberal speakers in the past year, Al Franken and Debra Davis, an outspoken transgender woman” Kieffer wrote in the St. Thomas Standard.
Why, then, won’t St. Thomas welcome Star Parker—a pro-life, Christian speaker?
Jane Canney told Katie and her sister, Amie Kieffer, a senior at St. Thomas and editor of the St. Thomas Standard, “As long as I am a vice president at St. Thomas, the Young America’s Foundation will not be allowed on campus.” Canney didn’t return the Foundation’s phone calls seeking comment. The Student Life Committee, on which Jane Canney resides, denied the Students for Human Life and the St. Thomas Standard a room on campus for Star Parker’s lecture. The young conservatives only needed a room and advertising space to host Parker, as Young America’s Foundation and Conservative Student News Inc. were covering all other costs.
Canney’s hostility toward Young America’s Foundation originated when the Foundation sponsored Ann Coulter at St. Thomas two years ago—an event attracting more than 750 students. Canney claimed she felt “uncomfortable” and “disturbed” while listening to Coulter, adding that she will never allow another Foundation-sponsored speaker on campus again
Scott Johnson at Powerline recaps the Coulter event in question:
After Ann Coulter addressed a standing room only crowd that mobbed the university”s O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in 2005, the school’s president — Father Dennis Dease — condemned Coulter’s talk as “hateful speech.” Father Dease was nowhere to be seen when Coulter appeared at St. Thomas, and couldn’t be troubled to specify how Coulter’s speech exceeded the bounds of civility at St. Thomas.
Father Dease expressed displeasure with Coulter’s “vitriolic criticism of ‘liberals'” and the allegedly “disrespectful and mean-spirited manner” with which she responded to “audience members who challenged her viewpoints.” One such challenge came from a member of the audience who had taken the microphone to tell Coulter “**** you” and salute her with the middle finger of both hands. Father Dease of course missed that, because he had missed the whole event. We covered the ensuing controversy in several posts including “Exceeding the bounds at UST,” “Hateful speech revisited,” “Drawing lines,” and “In which St. Thomas keeps digging.”
Now, I know that Coulter can be inflammatory, but instead of painting Parker with a broad brush by assuming she’s no different than AC, the powers that be should have judged her on the content of her character and what she’s written. Hmmm. Come to think of it, even if they had, the end result still would have been the same, considering how the far left typically treats opposing viewpoints on campus.
The school’s VP of Student Affairs reminds me of what David Horowitz wrote in his 2007 book Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom (emphasis added):
“By the time I began speaking on campuses at the end of the Eighties, the academic community had become a zone of agitation in a way that would have been unthinkable to earlier generations â€¦ Causes like ‘social justice’ were even inscribed in the mission statements of entire departments. More often than not the campus leaders of these political causes were members of the faculty. In parallel with these developments, there was a visibly diminishing presence of conservatives on faculties, as older generations retired and conservative replacements were not hired.
These new attitudes translated into an institutional hostility to conservative speakers visiting campus. As one of them, I rarely arrived at a school without being identified in advance as a â€˜controversial’ figure, which meant that I constituted a threat to the prejudices faculty had designated â€˜politically correct.’ When I addressed three hundred students at the University of Chicago in 2006, for example, the school’s Student Activities Coordinator, who was present, never introduced me. Instead, she stepped to the microphone before I spoke to inform students that a ‘safe room’ was available for anyone who might need it – in other words, relief was at hand for anyone traumatized by what I might have to say.”
Jane Canney is violating the school’s speaker policy to boot. The policy states that decisions to invite speakers are governed by “fairness and equity toward various conflicting views and interests, being mindful of the needs for wider information on the part of students and the larger communityâ€¦Another factor governing speakers on campus is our concern that a wide variety of issues and viewpoints be given expression.”
She’s also violating her school’s expressed convictions, including “intellectual inquiry” “faith and reason” “the pursuit of truth” “diversity” and “meaningful dialogue.”
Looks like the liberal myth about being “accepting” of alternative points of view has been turned on its ugly head – again.