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Daily Trojan’s Take On Coulter USC Visit

From the University of Southern California’s student newspaper, the Daily Trojan:

Ann Coulter comes to campus, criticizes liberal politics

The controversial author speaks at an event for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

By: Radomir Avila

Posted: 10/25/07

Conservative author and media personality Ann Coulter spoke to more than 200 people at Annenberg Auditorium on Wednesday, a night that included political jabbing inside and a gathering of protestors outside.

The event was part of “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” a nationwide effort by the David Horowitz Freedom Center to “confront the two Big Lies of the political left; that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat,” according to Horowitz’s Terrorism Awareness website. It was sponsored by the USC College Republicans and USC Objectivist Club and underwritten by both the Freedom Center and the Young America’s Foundation.

Coulter, self-admittedly notorious for making controversial and offensive remarks, addressed why she believes the Democratic Party enables Islamofascism, criticized liberal stances on both international and domestic policy, with a focus on foreign policy in the Middle East and the Iraq War, and addressed the threat of religious fundamentalism.

She said that 9/11 was “the greatest hate crime in world history” and that Guantanamo Bay looks more like a freshman dorm than a detention center, in response to a recent report that some detainees have gained 20 lbs.

Much to the amusement of the audience, which, judging by frequent applause and the content of the Q-and-A session following the talk, was composed largely of Coulter supporters, the best-selling author doled out her signature jabs at the Democratic Party.

“There’s always a conflict of interest when people who hate America are asked to lead it,” Coulter said about the Democrats’ midterm election victory, soliciting laughter from the auditorium.

For many, the heart of the debate over the week is the term “Islamofascist,” a phrase loaded for both sides…

“Fascism is a national movement while Islamic extremism is a fragmented one,” said Wais Hassan, a graduate student studying public administration at USC Sacramento, who was not at the event. “When you use fascism, you assume there is a united front trying to start World War III.”

When asked by a Daily Trojan reporter to define fascism, Coulter said the reporter should look it up in a dictionary.

Organizers of the week, both at USC and across the country, said the goal of such speeches is to increase discourse on an issue of national importance.

Both Shipp and Kip Payne, vice-chair of USC College Republicans, said they felt a lack of discussion was the reason why college campuses were targeted for the week.

“We should be discussing terrorism because it is what is happening around the world,” Payne said. “Any time an issue is discussed at a national research university like USC, it will get national attention.”

“It’s mind-boggling that more people are not marching in the streets protesting women being third-class citizens, the absent freedom of the press and other injustices,” said Omri Ceren, a doctoral candidate in communication. “In the classroom, it’s difficult to bring the subject up.”

Others confirmed the need for debate and dialogue on Islamic extremism, but questioned the choice of Coulter as the event’s speaker.

Shipp said representatives from campuses were asked to extend a hand to the Muslim community to encourage open debate and dialogue.

Both the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine said that no such offer was made at USC.

Though organizers praised Coulter for her brash personality and bold, attention-grabbing statements, some critics say these characteristics are a detriment to promoting thoughtful discourse on controversial issues.

“I think she was a bad figure to pick,” Hassan said. “She is not going to convince liberals because of her past. I’m not sure if she is an expert on the Middle East or was picked to get attention and press.”

Some attendees said Coulter’s polemic remarks are appropriate for a political pundit.

“She’s not a centrist,” Ceren said. “Her job is not to persuade; it is to speak to the faithful … Her job is to express a conservative viewpoint.” …

The article doesn’t mention it, but one suspects that the Wais Hassan cited is a probably the same Wais Hassan who used to be on the staff of UC Berkeley’s Muslim Student Association publication (pdf file).

Still, this is a giant step up from yesterday’s “editorial” by the sages who put out the Daily Trojan:

Listeners must discern among the riffraff

From the editors

10/24/07

Known for her mudslinging and immature name calling – she once called Al Gore a “total fag,” like a bitter bully in the schoolyard – Ann Coulter comes to campus today as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, billed by its organizers as “the biggest conservative campus protest ever.”

The controversial pundit, whose fame derives almost solely from appearances on cable news networks and a handful of inane, weightless books – is – if not a welcome speaker on our campus, at least a reflection of our willingness to let nearly any political viewpoint speak its case. By bringing such a polarizing figure as Coulter to our campus to voice her opinions, we reaffirm the freedom of expression that rests at the heart of our values. We must allow extreme or discomfiting views to be voiced in order to protect the core of our public discourse, and by extension the nation’s covenant – the First Amendment of the Constitution.

But discourse does not necessarily mean one must stand by passively as a speaker like Coulter attempts to spread her virulent strain of hatred by grabbing sound bites on the evening news or headlines in the next day’s paper. Discourse also means engaging opposition viewpoints through intelligent, in-depth questioning or even protest.

We ask students who attend Coulter’s speech, which will be followed by a 30-minute Q-and-A, to challenge her to defend her views without resorting to cheap insults. Asking questions filled with a depth of understanding and nuance will show our university to be the place of higher learning we purport it to be. Intelligence can combat the ignorance with which pundits like Coulter fill our collective culture in ways no insult or personal attack ever can. Coulter’s opponents could even carry signs expressing their distaste for her views, allowing her to speak – and in the process supporting the free expression we hold so dear – while proving her hateful message echoes only to the edge of the room.

Such steps allow students, as active, engaged citizens, to participate in the discourse on which our democracy is founded. But such a free flow of words permits extreme views alongside those more moderate, and we, as listeners, must fight hateful or hurtful messages by employing a discerning ear.

I don’t know. The editors seem to have a pretty full grasp of the concept of fascism, whether they realize it or not.

Of course they are probably not cognizant of the meaning of the word "riffraff." Though it sure smacks of "immature name-calling," as does the rest of their knee-jerk rant. But they are probably unaware of the concept of irony as well.

(As an aside, one wonders what the editors had to say about the visit to Columbia University by Mr. Ahmadinejad. Did they call him "riffraff"?)

Just what exactly does Ann Coulter say that can be accurately described as "vile" or "hateful"? Have the editors ever heard her speak or read any of her columns or books?

I think they would be amazed if they did. For Coulter simply voices mainstream conservative, that is to say middle America’s positions. Of course she also makes jokes. But even high-minded journalism students should be vaguely familiar with the concept of humor.

Though maybe not.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 25th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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