Stanford University officials are by no means the only academic fascists on the scene today. Last April, I spoke at Truman State University in Missouri. University officials did all they could to sabotage the event. “After learning that YAF was sponsoring Robert Spencer to speak at their school, Truman State administrators crafted a plan to drown out Spencer’s conservative ideas. Not only did the University pay Faizan Syed, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MO), to counter Robert Spencer’s conservative ideas, administrators scheduled Syed to speak on the same day and in the same room directly before Spencer. They even created a scholarship contest to encourage students to attend Faizan Syed’s presentation too.”
What’s more, Syed gave a canned, deceptive presentation, lying brazenly about the motivating ideology and magnitude of the jihad threat, and slandering me repeatedly. I replied to many of his slanders in my own speech, but also wanted to address the topic at hand. Syed later boasted that he had bested me in debate. There was, actually, no debate, but his boast once again demonstrated that the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamic supremacist spokesmen in general are cynical propagandists with only a glancing connection to truth and accuracy.
A student who was present at the event wrote this:
While it is true that Syed’s speech was not interrupted at all, the description is dead wrong. The hall was most definitely not respectful to Spencer (as was to be expected when the audience consists of mainly intolerant liberal fascists who hate free speech). I am a student and I was there for both talks, alone in a sea of white-clad snow-flakes snapping their fingers away at Syed, while hissing and taunting and flat-out ridiculing Spencer while he spoke. In reference to online threats of violence being made against Spencer, one girl so ludicrously claimed that in fact, it had been Syed in danger the whole time (because, as seen with this last election, liberals have proven to be the peaceful, non-violent protesters. HA!). Another girl interrupted Spencer mid-sentence to scream “WE HAVE THE TWEET!” to which Spender calmly tried to resume his defense. I call it defense because he was forced to be constantly defending not only his views, but defend against the many insults Syed had lobbed against him during the previous talk. The majority of students didn’t even give Spencer a chance, and like sheep, blindly snapped their fingers whenever they heard other snaps and disrespectfully went back to their phones. Many of them were dressed in hijabs (which for some reason is not considered cultural appropriation when used by the left to better their cause?) Spencer’s speech was interrupted multiple times by disrespectful audience members (students and older adults alike, which was quite shocking to behold). One girl, when given the opportunity to ask a question, grabbed the mic from the College Republicans moderator and started to become violent. My question for the university is this: why in the world weren’t more conservative students (who actually would have appreciated the opportunity to hear a world-renowned speaker) not allowed to witness Spencer’s speech in person? The fair thing to do would’ve been to empty the auditorium after each talk and have students re-enter with the ones who’d been waiting outside able to come in first. If it is fairness that the left is after, what I witnessed on April 13th 2017 is quite a spectacle of hypocrisy on their part. I even heard one liberal try to claim that the left-leaning students were FORCED to attend Spencer’s talk because if they hadn’t, they would be guilty of not defending the Muslim Students’ Association. My answer to them is this: if you don’t like what he has to say, then leave! The absolutely ridiculous claim that he is a white supremacist is both unfounded and totally false. He is not a racist nor a bigot; he is against terrorism and the murder of innocent life, as should all people be. If people actually listened and learned the difference between racial supremacy and anti-terrorism, they would understand that. I stayed for both talks because while I disagree with Mr. Syed, I like my perspectives to be shaped by truth. Believing something or holding a value just because your party does is a very bad way to form your own opinions, and has created a party of uninformed sheep indeed. As Nietzche so aptly put it: “liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle.” Sorry for the long-winded rant, but as you can see, it’s exhausting to bottle up unpopular opinions when you go to a very close-minded school. Thank you, Robert Spencer, for so kindly visiting Truman despite the risks to your safety. I hope you see this and know that you have many young fans who appreciate your thankless work. God Bless!
And here is what I said at Truman State (or most of it; the Q and A is cut off in this video, for reasons unknown to me, and I have not been able to find a video of the full event; Truman State reneged on its promise to post a full video):
“Academic Balance Cannot Be A One-Way Street,” by Mark Trammell, YAF, November 3, 2017:
“I will be interested to see a justification to spending school money for this event. This is akin to bringing a leader of the Klan or ISIS to the school.” (Emphasis added). – Craig Hennigan, Truman State University
What happens at schools when administrators learn that YAF is bringing a conservative speaker to address students directly on campus? Often, administrators use their position of authority to construct burdensome restrictions that make it difficult for students to follow through with their event. They usually do this by imposing exorbitant security fees on students attempting to host a conservative speaker, relegating conservative speakers to obscure venues on campus, prohibiting students from advertising their events, or by banning a particular speaker altogether.
But what YAF’s Censorship Exposed! project found at Truman State was different. University administrators placed a qualification on the First Amendment rights of conservative students. Conservative viewpoints can only be presented if their liberal counter perspectives are presented too. The double standard is outrageous!
After learning that YAF was sponsoring Robert Spencer to speak at their school, Truman State administrators crafted a plan to drown out Spencer’s conservative ideas. Not only did the University pay Faizan Syed, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MO), to counter Robert Spencer’s conservative ideas, administrators scheduled Syed to speak on the same day and in the same room directly before Spencer. They even created a scholarship contest to encourage students to attend Faizan Syed’s presentation too.
Administrators Organized and Paid for CAIR-Approved Lecture
When YAF speakers come to campus, it is the result of our students’ hard work. YAF students spend weeks planning, coordinating event logistics, and promoting these events to their campus. And their efforts are often compounded by the ridiculous red tape that only state-funded institutions can create. Yet in spite of all of this, YAF students host the most successful campus lectures in the Conservative Movement. Often these lectures are standing room only.
Compare this to Truman State. After learning that YAF was sponsoring Robert Spencer to speak directly to Truman State students, the University’s vice president of student affairs, Dr. Lou Ann Gilchrist, proposed a plan. She wrote, “If Mr. Spencer is being supported by FAC, I will offer the same amount of money (using development funds so we don’t have issues with using State funding) to the student Islam association to bring in a speaker with counter views.”
This is troubling for many reasons.
Notably, it was the administration that hatched a plan to drown out Spencer’s conservative ideas. Emails show school administrators contacted the Muslim Student Association (MSA), first speaking to the group’s vice president and then to its president, to create an event to counter Spencer’s ideas. Reza Aslan, Stephen Prothrow, and Wajahat Ali (whose honorariums would have been as much as three to seven times that of Spencer’s) were considered as potential speakers. The administration contacted Faizan Syed about speaking at Truman. The administration even promoted the event by sending out an announcement to the student body at Truman State.
Also, the University paid for this event out of the Office of Student Affairs. As previously mentioned, Dr. Gilchrist even suggested using development funds to pay Faizan Syed’s honoraria “so we don’t have issues with using State funding.” In comparison, Robert Spencer’s honorarium was paid through the proper channel – the Funds Allotment Council (FAC), which is associated with the student government and grants “money to student organizations that wish to host events on campus.” In other words, student fees paid for Spencer’s honoraria.
Administrators Created a Financial Incentive to Attend CAIR lecture
No school has ever created a scholarship contest to incentivize students to listen to our conservative speakers. YAF speakers speak to full auditoriums in spite of the numerous roadblocks that administrators set up to keep conservative ideas off campus.
However, Truman State administrators created a scholarship contest to incentivize students to attend Faizan Syed’s lecture. It was not until after the University’s administration learned that Robert Spencer was coming that they decided to invite a speaker with counter views and to incentivize student attendance by creating a $500 scholarship contest for students who would attend both presentations.
The creation of this scholarship contest had nothing to do with listening to both sides of an argument. The purpose was to drown out a conservative viewpoint.
“Extra Credit” for protesting Spencer
Emails show Truman State faculty’s hostility toward Spencer too. Administrators were aware that faculty were “offering extra credit and coordinating opportunities to make signs, etc.” In an email to FAC, one instructor described Robert Spencer’s invitation as, “akin to bringing a leader of the Klan or ISIS to the school.” (Emphasis added).
In an email with the subject line “Monitoring Spencer stuff,” Truman State staff circulated a student’s personal Facebook post that summarized a conversation with the University’s Interfaith Center. The student wrote –
Interfaith Center just sent me this: “I am very happy to inform you of two things we are doing to support the other side of this argument. Student Affairs has graciously matched the funding that was provided to College Republicans for the Muslim Student Association (MSA). As of today, MSA is bringing in a speaker to talk from 6:30-7:30 about the exploitation of Islam for negative purposes. This event will be at the same location as the Robert Spencer event, but right before.
The other thing that we are doing here at the Interfaith Center is sponsoring an essay writing competition… (Emphasis Added).
Why all of this Matters
Conservative students are being treated differently by administrators. When a conservative student group wanted to bring in a conservative speaker, Truman State administrators went to great lengths to drown out the conservative viewpoint. Taxpayer-funded universities should be a marketplace of ideas where research, expression, and debate are encouraged. Selectively demanding academic balance only when a conservative viewpoint is presented, but not also when a leftist viewpoint is presented, is indoctrination, not balance.