Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Report From the Front: The CR's Press Conference, My Observations and Thoughts; Why We Should All Be Proud of Them

I'm rather proud of what the College Republicans did this evening. I say this as an educator at WSU, albeit a temporary one, because, having stood on my side of the podium for a few years now, and of course previously having been a student, I understand fully how daunting something such as what they've done, and what they're doing, can be. Many students would have balked at the idea of taking on the university for its misdeeds, resigning themselves instead to resentful silence, fearing negative repercussions against them academically and socially, waiting instead for the day to come when they could simply escape the entrenched campus politic and not confront it. In all of the years I've been involved in university life, in all of the capacities in which I've participated in it, I've come to realize that it is a rare student who will willingly take a stand on principle against these entities. Especially rare is the student who will take such a stand when the forces arrayed against him or her find the principles in question unworthy and actively work to make them unpopular, demanding instead unquestioning adherence to the antithesis of those principles, whatever they may be.

We are blessed in this regard - we do not have just one student of this character, we have a whole group of them.

Since the Thanksgiving break ended, I have been wondering what happened in regard to Streamas and Leonard, two of some of the worst enemies of free and open inquiry - the very essence of the concept of a university - I have ever known. I was saddened to hear that, once again, the administration of WSU was officially going to attempt to sweep this issue under the rug. Worse, as has been the pattern in the past, they were going to try and turn the victim into the aggressor, as they have done before - in recent memory even - when one of their favored social groups committed a grievous offense against the rights of others (the sanctity of those very rights being something the WSU administration pays lip service to, but nothing more). I was worried that the issue would simply die, like so many have before it, issues that never should have been allowed to slip away, injustices for which justice was never delivered.

As much as the WSU administrators would no doubt like to see the issue die and be forgotten, it will not. Our College Republicans demonstrated that this evening with the press conference they held. Tonight, I witnessed a very brave event: our own College Republicans refusing to give in when it would be so easy to; refusing to allow the issue to simply die and be forgotten despite the challenges this will no doubt bring upon them; speaking up and against the stony silence that the WSU administration has tried to cover this issue with. Once again, the transgressions of Streamas, Leonard, and the WSU administration will be in the news. Once again, visibility on a national scale will be cast upon this intellectual cancer that has been growing, largely unnoticed, away from the attention of the broader general public. Hopefully, it will finally be excised and destroyed.

The College Republicans have called for the termination of Streamas. This, I think, is reasonable and should be carried out without delay. Streamas ought to be considered anathema to the mission of higher education and treated accordingly.

The event was not without opposition. One young woman chose to attend who, by her words, was clearly against the College Republican's mission. Her statements were frequently vague, the premises she was trying to communicate were mostly unclear, but one thing was blatantly obvious to the attentive observer: she was trying, repeatedly and in various ways, to solicit some sort of admission of guilt from the College Republicans for their role in the border fence display that sparked these events. She wanted them, in pure leftist, collectivist, and moral relativist fashion, to agree to the drawing of an equivalence between the expression of their dearly held beliefs - an act that is an absolute right of every human being - with the vicious attempts at suppression and silencing visited upon the College Republicans by those who attacked them that day. She spoke of "two wrongs not making a right," which is correct, but, leaving out many details of the events of that day, she tried to imply that there were two wrongs committed (there were not; only those who attacked the College Republicans were wrong) and that, somehow, the presence of two wrongs should lead to no punishment of any wrongs at all, that the College Republicans should stop pursuing their case. The truth is that any and all wrongs should be punished, always.

Unfortunately for the opponents of the College Republicans in this matter, and this young woman in particular, there is also a burden of proof involved: the simple fact of the matter is that there is no proof that the College Republicans committed any wrongs - there is only hearsay reports of such things - but there is plenty of proof that they did not, and at the same time and by the same means - video footage - there exists enormous amounts of proof that the opponents of the College Republicans were in the wrong. Therefore, if this young woman truly believes that injustices should be punished, and that guilt should be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt before punishments are meted out, lest we inflict suffering upon the innocent, then I demand that she call for the punishment of those clearly and demonstrably in the wrong, Leonard and Streamas, and that they be punished immediately and reasonably, with others accused of wrongdoing also punished if it can be shown that they are deserving. I await her demonstrated commitment to justice; but I do not expect to see it, for I suspect that she does not truly care for justice - not if true justice would not serve her agenda - or perhaps she does not yet understand what justice is. This is also, I suspect, the case with the guilty professors in the matter, Leonard and Streamas, and the powers that be at WSU.

The College Republicans did not take the bait. They refused to admit a wrong where no wrong existed. They refused to reduce their inherent right to self-expression to the level of a criminal act. They refused to apologize for their beliefs. It was very heartening to watch them do this, to see them steal away all of the thunder and the ammunition of the ideological enemies of all free people simply by throwing light upon the fallacies that our enemies, both the witting enemies of liberty and the frequently unwitting, usefully idiotic enemies of liberty, always try to operate upon.

Most of all, it was inspiring to see young individuals refuse to surrender their inherent rights, to see them willingly and actively defending those rights against any and all challengers. Sometimes, I am tempted to give in to pessimism in regard to the continued survival of the unique statement of defiance against tyranny, in all of its forms, that was the founding of our nation, and in particular the ideas behind it. I wonder sometimes, looking around at the people whom our universities are turning out, if our grand experiment in individual freedom will survive. What I saw this evening on the part of our College Republicans, though admittedly a small act relative to many past things done in the name of defending freedom, nonetheless, it restores my faith in the viability and continuance of the founding ideals of our great republic. It would be so easy for the College Republicans to quit, to stop now and avoid many trials and tribulations that may well be placed in their paths because of these events. But they have not quit. They have not bowed to false lords. They have chosen to fight, and their fight is a good fight, one that any and all among us who believes in freedom and justice should not hesitate to join.

I can think of no better conclusion to this piece, no better tribute the spirit of what our College Republicans are doing, than some of the words of John Stewart Mill:
The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Keep it up, CR's. Do not quit the fight. You are not alone; I will be behind you the whole way, come what may. In fact, I will not be merely behind you, but I will be with you the whole way, as will many, many others, as this is rightly the fight of any and all who refuse to bow down to tyrants, be they big or small. Thank you for carrying the standard and leading the way.

Drive on.


WSUCollegeRepublican said...

Thank you Paul. On a side note, my idenity will be known, just not at this moment in time. I am a WSU College Republican though and I can say for a fact that the girl who came to the meeting would not have been allowed to come if we had known she was not press. She came in with a member of press and sat with her... there was no way of knowing... More on this and other news later////school.

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

She was a minor annoyance, at best. I do think it was appalling how she referred to the minority members of the College Republicans as "tokens." Dan and I talked about that over coffee today - it's astounding how readily and willingly the "diversity" crowd will resort to racist insults when a non-caucasian doesn't obediently march in lockstep with their views.