Earlier this month, celebrated conservative pundit and one of the founding editors of the Cornell Review Ann Coulter was denied an invitation by Fordham University and snubbed for her allegedly “hateful and provocative” rhetoric.
The College Republicans at Fordham had invited Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. But the CRs were left astounded when President Joseph McShane attacked them for their decision with a “University Statement on Ann Coulter Appearance”. In his statement, Father McShane made it clear that he was disappointed by the students’ decision and that Fordham would not tolerate any “hate speech” on campus. He added that he would not like to censor Coulter from speaking but questioned the “judgment and maturity” of the students and encouraged them to cancel the event on their own.
Left with few choices, the College Republicans capitulated and rescinded their invitation to Coulter. In an open letter addressed to the entire campus community, the club apologized for their failure to research Coulter’s political positions, which are apparently “inconsistent with the ideals of the College Republicans”. For this, they received a letter of congratulations from the president, who declared that there could have been “no finer testament to the value of a Fordham education and the caliber of our students”. He applauded the students for passing their “test of character” with distinction and for “engaging in an impassioned but overwhelmingly civil debate on politics, academic freedom, and freedom of speech.”
Fordham’s blatant double standards were exposed when the Dean of the College invited the controversial Princeton professor Peter Singer to speak on a panel about “animal ethics.” Peter Singer is a curious character who combines his aggressive defense of animal rights with his support for bestiality, active euthanasia, and the murder of innocent human beings. Given his radical and disturbing views on ethics, the man even refused to care for his mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, fearing that if he took responsibility, his mother might not continue to live. But regardless of Singer’s views, which stand in direct conflict with our Constitutional values, the college website hailed him as “the most influential philosopher alive today.” It is testimony to McShane’s astonishing line of reasoning that he finds Coulter’s pro-life views incompatible with the ideals of Fordham while celebrating the greatest advocate of infanticide known to the world.
It seems clear that McShane’s conduct was a great blow to the spirit of academic and intellectual freedom in which our colleges take pride. Besides being in opposition to the values that a Jesuit institution like Fordham claims to stand for, this unashamed suppression of free speech also unmasked the true face of liberal intolerance.
What is even more regrettable is that the Fordham Republicans, despite facing dissent from their ranks, failed to hold their ground and cancelled the event. In the light of the dismal state of intellectual discourse on college campuses, the staff of the Review unanimously condemns Fordham’s politically motivated suppression of freedom of expression and sincerely hopes that this incident does not set a dangerous precedent for other institutions to follow.
Kushagra Aniket is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com. The author gives due credit to Professor William Jacobson of the Law School for breaking this news on his blog “College Insurrection”.