Pathetic Display at D’Souza

Dinesh D’souza returned to UVM last week thanks to the College Republicans. His speech entitles “The Clash of Civilizations” was both fascinating and angering, but the response of students and faculty was only disappointing For The past two weeks signs in promotion and protest of D’souza appeared all over campus. Some posters read, “Protest Dinesh” and “He’s not better then you, he’s just smarter”. Both statements were true thanks to the ISO’s overwhelming presence and the disappointing lack of faculty and administration present. The ISO passionately protested the lecture in front of Ira Allen but even more shamefully on Church Street where Dinesh was dining that evening. At least one ISO member was spotted yelling “Stop the War on Terror” and “your hands are drenched in blood” in front of Sweet Waters. Continuing this “intellectual” onslaught throughout dinner seems to be made in very poor taste, even if Dinesh is as bad as some say. Dinesh’s protestors then continued in a more meaningful manner in front of Ira Allen, shouting things like “No war for oil” and other likely catch phrases. Nothing was gained from this protest, however protestors deserve credit for organizing and trying to get their point across to the UVM community. Way to go ISO! I, like anyone else can appreciate an organized display of civil liberties in action, no matter how pointless. After listening to their chants, the protestors filed into the hall quietly. Considering last year, when ISO members, frothing at the mouth made an annoying entrance followed by silly speeches to D’souza during the Q and A segment of the lecture. Their JV version of intellectual thinking manifested in rants and raves last year made themselves, UVM and any liberal minded individual look bad in front of this prominent thinker. This year hoping for a more respectable performance, their ability to persuade or even challenge Dinesh’s intellect on the topic of the Middle East and the war in Iraq seemed doubtful because often on my way to the library and on Church Street I enter debate with ISO members and rarely do they raise any seriously original or even intelligent argument. – No offense guys but you need to know both sides of an issue before you can argue effectively. Even still I sincerely hoped the ISO might still be able to put Dinesh on his heels and at the beginning of the Q and A section it seemed possible. The first question (read from a prepared xerox) from the ISO was eloquently phrased but unfortunately lacked substance, and was easily defeated by Dinesh. After a couple more unsuccessful attempts by the ISO they were forced to resort to hissing, shouting and asking questions that were not only inappropriate but also offensive. One such question was “What is it like to be a racist.” In response Dinesh laughed and asked for proof which of course was not produced. Take some advice, put more thought into facts and less into Socialist propaganda -and no they are not the same thing. Despite the their poor performance and inability to ask intelligent and probing questions to D’souza, the ISO’s performance was not the only disappointment of the evening. Formidable questions were missing, and so was the faculty. Where were you guys? All of us liberals would have loved to see our prestigious faculty take D’souza down a notch but none of you were there. It is unfair to call the entire faculty out, but we needed at least some of you there. If not to defend liberal thinking, at least themselves and the integrity of this university! Luckily, one faculty member was present and asked a question; the most intelligent and important question of the evening. The faculty member questioned on virtue, freedom and gay rights, and it was so well presented and thoughtful that it left D’souza no wiggle room and forced a foolish answer. Thank you to whoever asked this question, if it was the only question (besides maybe two other questions from students not affiliated with the ISO) UVM’s credibility would have remained intact. Dinesh D’souza should fear coming here, considering our liberal reputation, but instead he enjoys and relishes it because almost no one challenges him intellectually.

Rarely does a prominent figure like D’souza appear on campus, and next time some one of his caliber appears he should be confronted with a cohesive onslaught of intellectual questions rather than a loose assortment of dimwitted comments.