Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's 1, 2, 3 What Are We Fighting For?

And it's 1,2,3, what are we fighting for?
Don't ask me I don't give a damn,
The next stop is Viet Nam,
And it's 5,6,7, open up the pearly gates,
Well it ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We're all gonna die....

The Viet Nam Song, Country Joe and the FIsh at Woodstock, 1969
as played moments ago on WIZARD RADIO, Earth's Most Interesting Radio Station

If you thought this was just another Wizard Rant against the UULUIUOI (Un-provoked, Unecessary, Largely Unilateral Invasion and Unplanned Occupation of Iraq), it's not. Not that I couldn't launch into such a rant, but I really think the vast majority of American's have Iraq all figured out. And the November elections will drive the point home to any lingering administration officials.

Nope. My rant this morning is directed squarely at those idiots at Columbia University who actually believe they did some sort of "good thing" by stifling free speech when they forcefully disrupted the College Republican Lecture featuring Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist.

I probably wouldn't have launched into this rant if the leaders of the so-called protest didn't constantly refer to the college Republicans and Gilcrest supporter as "Nazis" and "stormtroopers" and "fascists."

These protest drunk morons wouldn't recognize a Nazi Fascist if they looked at one in the mirror.

I point ot exhibit "A" which I will quote from freely below. It is a series of press releases and letters posted by the various protest groups located here:
Columbia University Anti-Minutemen Protest.

    "On Wednesday night, October 4, progressive students at Columbia University protested the racist Minuteman Project inside and outside the auditorium where they were speaking. Although the students were subject to vicious and violent attacks by Minutemen stormtroopers, they held their ground and Jim Gilchrist, the Minutemen founder, terminated his speech."
Most of Hitler's pre-war brownshirt youth were all probably pretty good kids. Full of youthful emotion and exuberance. Full of ideals. And full of energy. That energy simply needed a direction.

By creating and demonizing an enemy, Hitler was able to successfully direct his young followers to do some pretty illogical things.

Not only were Jewish shops and merchants terrorized and vandalized, but newspapers were destroyed and speeches and speakers were attacked if they dared to protest against the demonization of the Jews.

The methodology was deceptively simple. Demonize an enemy then prevent any opposing opinions. Keep the troops riled up and don't give them the opportunity to think.

Universities were the first and hardest hit in Hitler's pre-war Germany. Hitler knew all dissenting opinions had to be stopped.

Intellectuals fled the country. Debate was not tolerated.

Now the protestors at Columbia aren't Nazis and their leaders aren't Hitler, but their tactics and total lack of logic and reason follow the same playbook. Look at this press release. It defies all logic:

    "Student protesters are being threatened with reprisals following their protest against Jim Gilchrist, founder of the racist anti-immigrant vigilante organization, the Minuteman Project. The protesters went on stage with banners that said, "No One is Illegal" and "Say No to Racism." The protesters were physically assaulted by Minutemen and their supporters. When they spoke out against fascism and racism, they spoke for all of us. Yet, there has been a coordinated campaign seeking reprisals against the students, initiated by FoxNews, the Minutemen, New York City's Republican Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the New York Times, and other media."

    "It is important to understand that the Minuteman Project is at its core, the same as the Nazis and the KKK. This fact has been confused by the legitimacy granted to the Minutemen by Lou Dobbs on CNN, FoxNews, and other so-called mainstream media, including NPR."

I'd like to point out to the potential innocent student protestors that when your leaders have to claim that the New York Times and National Public Radio are lackeys of right wing fascists, you are way too far out on a limb.

The simple fact is that the only people behaving like Nazis were the protestors themselves who prevented an open and free exchange of ideas. Only the protestors prevented free speech. Only the protestors assaulted anyone. They were not the victims of stormtroopers. They were the stormtroopers.

Compare the irrational ramblings of the protest leaders with the well reasoned letter by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger (also found on the page linked above):

    Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

    Columbia University has always been, and will always be, a place where students and faculty engage directly with important public issues. We are justifiably proud of the traditions here of intellectual inquiry and vigorous debate. The disruption on Wednesday night that resulted in the termination of an event organized by the Columbia College Republicans in Lerner Hall represents, in my judgment, one of the most serious breaches of academic faith that can occur in a university such as ours.

    Of course, the University is thoroughly investigating the incident, and it is critically important not to prejudge the outcome of that inquiry with respect to individuals. But, as we made clear in our University statements on both Wednesday night and Thursday, we must speak out to deplore a disruption that threatens the central principle to which we are institutionally dedicated, namely to respect the rights of others to express their views.

    This is not complicated: Students and faculty have rights to invite speakers to the campus. Others have rights to hear them. Those who wish to protest have rights to do so. No one, however, shall have the right or the power to use the cover of protest to silence speakers. This is a sacrosanct and inviolable principle.

    It is unacceptable to seek to deprive another person of his or her right of expression through actions such as taking a stage and interrupting a speech. We rightly have a visceral rejection of this behavior, because we all sense how easy it is to slide from our collective commitment to the hard work of intellectual confrontation to the easy path of physical brutishness. When the latter happens, we know instinctively we are all threatened.

    We have extensive University policies governing the actions of members of this community with respect to free speech and the conduct of campus events. Administrators began identifying those involved in the incident as it transpired and continue to investigate specific violations of University policies to ensure full accountability by those found to be responsible.

    University personnel are also evaluating event management practices that are specifically intended to help event organizers, participants, and protestors maintain a safe environment in which to engage in meaningful and sometimes contentious debate across the spectrum of academic and political issues. These are some of the many steps we intend to take in the weeks ahead to address this matter in our community.

    Let me reaffirm: In a society committed to free speech, there will inevitably be times when speakers use words that anger, provoke, and even cause pain. Then, more than ever, we are called on to maintain our courage to confront bad words with better words. That is the hallmark of a university and of our democratic society. It is also one of our central safeguards against the impulses of intolerance that always threaten to engulf our commitment to proper respect for every person.


    Lee C. Bollinger

Please ask yourself "What are we fighting for?" If the answer is "I don't know and don't give a damn," you're on the wrong road.

Next time you go to a speech, please don't check your brain at the door.




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