Fordham — Coulter bad, OWS supporting Prof who calls Republicans evil, stupid, hateful and psycho, good
In his letter to the community denouncing the Fordham Republicans invitation to Ann Coulter to speak, President and Father Joseph M. McShane elaborated on the standard expected of students in selecting speakers:
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 a follow up statement by the University’s spokesman, Fordham made clear it was not the content of Coulter’speech which it found objectionable, but the way in which she delivered the content:
Though many of Peter Singer’s positions are extreme, and at odds with Catholic teaching, he is a faculty member at a major university with a track record of serious publications. He was invited by our theology faculty, for a panel sponsored by several academic departments and the Office of the Provost. In contrast with Ann Coulter, Singer is not accustomed to argument by ad hominem attack. To the best of our knowledge, he does not slander people who hold opposing views, nor denigrate people’s race, gender, nor faith.
It was not Ms. Coulter’s politics, but her rhetoric that drew Father McShane’s statement….
As readers know, I’m not a big fan of Ann’s right now, ever since she laid into Newt during the primaries. But Fordham needs to be held to its own standards if it is going to single out a conservative pundit.
Hyperbolic rhetoric is not new to the Fordham campus.
In fact, one of its Professors was an avid Occupy Wall Street supporter who used some pretty over the top rhetoric in describing a variety of Republican figures. I would defend that professor against any attempt to drive her off campus for her views or heated rhetoric, or to have Father McShane publicly shame her the way he did the Fordham Republicans.
Heather Gautney is an assistant professor of sociology who was a frequent spokesperson for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and protested in Zuccotti Park where she gave television interviews.
In the course of OWS and thereafter, she has engaged in name-calling against Republican figures on Twitter:
Gautney also used her OWS prominence to join with two other OWS supporters in traveling to Tehran earlier this year, to talk to Iranians about OWS.
The group was used by the Iranian regime for propaganda purposes, something Gautney says she did not intend but acknowledged happening.
She also visited with the daughter of the late Ayatollah Khomenei, and she later wrote that he was mischaracterized by the United States:
The metaphor of Awakening struck an even deeper chord during a special meeting the faculty had arranged with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s daughter, Zahra Mostafavi. We toured Khomeini’s modest home, beginning with a remarkable room of photographs documenting the Islamic Revolution. The Revolution involved some of the largest street protests in modern history – interesting by any standard, but for a social movement scholar like myself, a true wonder.
As I viewed the dramatic scenes of Khomeini’s life, I flashed back to my own childhood, to propagandistic images of Khomeini as an evil dictator, the terrible jokes about Muslims that circulated through my Catholic grade school, and the absolute support of the tyrannical Shah, who privatized much of Iran’s resources, turned it into a comprador regime, and committed unspeakable acts against his own people. During the hostage crisis, Iranians were cast as fundamentalist monsters in American bedtime stories, and it’s that generation, my generation, who are now setting the terms of our political relationship today.
“During our meeting, Dr. Mostafavi told us the story of Khomeini’s intellectual and spiritual development, his stalwart activism, and difficult exile. He did not force the Revolution, she said, but rather waited patiently for a popular Awakening. People had to see the world differently for themselves, they had to believe in the possibility of change. Like many such revolutions, this one opened the door to autocracy. Nonetheless, Khomeini did, in his writings, eschew simplistic East versus West narratives of inequality in lieu of a framework of Arrogance versus The Oppressed.”
A columnist at HuffPo wrote a scathing rebuke, Why Are Some American Academics Legitimizing the Iranian Regime?
The annals of Western useful idiocy are as voluminous as they are revolting, stretching from the Stalinist apologetics of Sidney and Beatrice Webb to recently disclosed ties between the London School of Economics and the Qaddafi regime. Even so, the participation of American academics in a conference on the Occupy Wall Street movement organized earlier this year by Tehran’s murderous theocrats stands out as particularly grotesque.
According to a February 22 report broadcast by PressTV, the Iranian regime’s English-language organ, three American professors were among the attendees at a Tehran University confab devoted to discussing “various aspects of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” They included Heather Gautney, an assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, who boasted to PressTV that the Occupy “movement is going to be incredibly active in pressuring politicians to start addressing issues of social inequality” in the lead-up to the November elections in the U.S….
All three should be ashamed. Ever since the Occupy movement emerged last fall, the Iranian regime has sought to wield it as a moral shield against criticism of its own abhorrent human rights record, particularly with respect to freedom of speech and assembly. There is of course no comparison between, on the one hand, clashes between American police and Occupy protestors and, on the other, the merciless crackdown dished out by the regime to millions of Iranians after the country’s stolen 2009 election. Unfortunately, some leaders of the Occupy movement have been all too eager to address Iran’s state-run media, bolstering the mullahs’ narrative of a violently repressive American government beholden to shadowy Wall Street power….
Most tellingly, Prof. Gautney concluded her reflections with an ode to the Islamic Republic’s founder, the Ayatollah Khomeini, who, she worried, had been unjustly maligned in the West “as an evil dictator.” In reality, Prof. Gautney claimed, “Khomeini eschewed simplistic East versus West narratives of inequality. His was a framework of Arrogance versus The Oppressed.” In that framework, Prof. Gautney heard echoes of the Occupy movement: “I thought of OWS. The 1 Percent is not just a statistic. It is a concept that speaks to the arrogance of power.”
The mind reels. Would that be the same Ayatollah Khomeini who ordered the summary execution of thousands of his erstwhile leftist and liberal allies in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution? Would that be the same Khomeini who issued a religious edict blessing the murder of the novelist Salman Rushdie for having penned The Satanic Verses? Would that be the same Khomeini who commanded that virgin female political prisoners be raped before execution, so as to prevent their souls from reaching paradise?
Gautney also has written that “love and generosity are the essence of communism.”
Add it up, and what do you have in Prof. Gautney? A run of the mill leftist social sciences academic on a college campus.
I absolutely defend her right to be so, and would criticize Father McShane if he tried to shame her the way he did the Fordham Republicans, or if he publicly rebuked her the way he did Ann Coulter.
As with the embrace of infanticide supporter Peter Singer by Fordham the issue is not provoking less speech, but holding the Fordham administration to standards it imposed uniquely on the Fordham Republicans.