Teach, Don’t Preach

On Veterans Day, the College Republicans brought best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza to lecture on campus. D’Souza, a prominent speaker of national renown, was greeted with slanderous flyers and tactless protest that levied charges of racism.

A firm believer in meritocracy, D’Souza advocates the noblest solution of all to race relations, colorblindness; thus, his chilly reception was unfortunate. Unable to match wits with D’Souza, protesters resorted to insults and stump speeches that made them look foolish.

Still, other than an occasional incident of intimidation, the protesters overstepped no boundaries of free speech.

While their activities were shameful, D’Souza’s knowledge and sense of humor made the event enjoyable and left many in the audience, even skeptics, impressed.

The reaction of professors to the event, however, was much more disconcerting.

One labeled him racist, sexist and homophobic.

Another used his lectern to lambaste the University for not attracting corresponding left wing speakers.

He must have missed the University’s response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, specifically their decision to sponsor far-left speaker Howard Zinn and the despicable Ward Churchill without promoting a single mainstream, much less conservative, speaker.

Unlike the latter two events, the University did not sponsor Dinesh D’Souza’s lecture.

The reaction of one faculty member, however, was intolerable.

English professor Kari Winter spent an entire class period ‘discussing’ Dinesh D’Souza and the College Republicans.

She distributed a flyer that pulled quotes out of context and prefaced them with labels such as ‘White Supremacy = Meritocracy.’ Affixed to a wall, this flyer constituted borderline

slander; distributed to a class, it was far worse.

As if this was not enough, Dr. Winter accused the College Republicans of harboring ‘racist tendencies.’

This professor is no stranger to controversy.

Last semester, she interrupted a private conversation between a professor and a student to express her wish that the political science faculty ‘stop training Nazis.’

To toss this repulsive epithet at one of UVM’s finest departments is to insult each and every faculty member and student.

Likewise, to hurl accusations of racism at a student organization, particularly one that has striven to further rational discourse on campus this semester, is disgusting.

The College Republicans are an ethnically and ideologically diverse group of students dedicated to informing others about the existence and breadth of opinion in this country, no small feat at a campus where the left side of the spectrum is significantly over-represented.

To that end, we have attracted two prominent speakers to lecture about timely issues.

This verbal assault belittles our efforts to contribute to diversity of thought on campus and impugns the integrity of each and every member of the College Republicans.

Academic freedom is a noble principle aimed at protecting freedom of inquiry within one’s chosen field; it is not meant to safeguard libel and shield from

criticism and consequences those who overstep legal and ethical boundaries.

By assassinating the character of a substantial body of students yet again, Dr. Winter has proven herself incapable of tolerating opinions with which she disagrees.

If faculty cannot be trusted to remain open-minded and refrain from defaming individuals and organizations, how can the University ask students to respect the beliefs of others?

In light of this professor’s history, a mere apology would be woefully insufficient.