What the Radicals Are Saying
Bruin Alumni Association
likes the Bruin Alumni Association, or our ideas.
That much is hardly a surprise.
But, following a recent email
soliciting public support, we received a large number of, shall we
say, hostile responses, which show exactly what we are up against.
The following are a three emails of particular interest (all from UCLA
alums), along with my responses.
From a class of '79 alumnus:
"When I went to UCLA, the radicals, conservatives and everyone else
co-existed and people got to hear both sides of the issues, with
student and faculty and staff given the opportunity to hear all kind of
views, both inside and outside the classroom, where folks had the
to listen or to walk away. When I was at UCLA one day Louis Farrakhan
could give a speech on campus, followed a couple of days later by Lou
Sheldon and Anita Bryant followed by Tom Hayden. Does
your organization advocate the banning of individuals and organizations
that don't share your views?"
I don't think we have much to disagree about, despite what this fellow
might think. If at some point in the past the campus was
operating as an open forum for political discussion and debate, then
that's exactly what UCLA needs to restore - because it's exactly what
UCLA does not have right
last year's Michael Moore fiasco. Moore, an extreme
polemicist for the Left, was given student funds to come speak at the
event. By contrast, student government funds - contributed by ALL
students - have
not covered the speaking fees of a single conservative speaker, dating
back to, at minimum, 1999.
The BAA would have no problems if a Michael Moore were followed by a
David Horowitz or a Dinesh D'Souza - all funded by student fees.
Likewise, there really wouldn't even be any problem if none of those speakers received
payment from student government funds. But that would in turn
require that no speaker of any political persuasion ever receive UCLA
money. Given the impracticality of that particular plan, UCLA
would do better to make a committment to equal time, at least where
student fees are concerned.
And in response to his last question, the BAA most certainly does not
advocate the banning of individuals or organizations that don't share
our views. Indeed, it's a ridiculous question given our complete
inability to accomplish such a ban. But it's not a "ban" if we oppose the funding of Moore because UCLA student government won't
the appearance of a countervailing perspective to that of Michael Moore. That's called standing up for
Just as importantly, we don't agree with the
author's presumption that the classroom is a marketplace for professors
to sell their personal views. In a given class, it is the
professor's responsibility to present all major views on a topic,
without spin or favoritism, and allow the student to decide.
To have an absurd "market system" where one goes to conservative
professors only to hear conservative teaching, and to liberals only to
hear liberal teaching, makes a mockery of UCLA, and of common
sense. What of the conservative student who needs a particular class taught by
a particular radical professor in order to graduate or to simply
proceed within his major? Must he listen to a professor push his
personal political opinions? Must he tailor his essays and
classroom comments to agree with the professor, who, it must be
emphasized, holds grading power over said student?
This writer endorses a de facto system of bias-shopping - a system
utterly unworthy of a great school like UCLA. If politics are an
integral part of the course, let them be
taught in a non-partisan manner (surely professors are smart and
professional enough to swallow their politics if such a
desperately-needed policy were enacted). And if a course has
nothing to do with Bush, keep your political comments to
yourself. Express them via talk radio, express them to the
streets, just express them on your own time - and check your politics
lecture hall door.
From another alumnus, this time, from the early '90s:
"Do you even see the hypocrisy in this email? You're dissing
liberals by saying they don't have the right to deliver their message
or take actions to accomplish what they feel is best for the
school. Yet, you're emailing people with your political agenda,
trying to take action for what you feel is best for the school?
How is that you're any different? You're doing the exact same
UCLA is a public school. Therefore, you'll find very liberal
teachers and very conservative teachers. That's the point of a
public school. You should have gone to a private school if you
wanted close-minded arguments.
You slam affirmative action, yet you're demanding a form of it to help
conservatives. So affirmative actions for minorites = bad.
Affirmative action for conservatives = good. Again, do you even
seen the hypocrisy in your own arguments?"
As a UCLA student, the only anti-Semitism I ever experienced came from
Christians. I had my dorm door vandalized with an upside down
cross. It was done by Bruin Christians who had done it to other
You're email is insulting, close-minded, and completely ignorant.
You sound foolish. Please stop insulting the institution I hold
I responded at length:
"- Where in my email do I say liberals don't have a
right to deliver their message?
Liberal professors do not have a right to
indoctrinate their students. But liberal students are free to use
reason and discussion to convince anyone of their points of view -
where appropriate. That doesn't mean beating up on conservative
counterprotesters during an anti-war march.
Liberals have a vision for what is best for UCLA, as does the
BAA. Let the best ideas win. So no, no hypocrisy there.
- The point of a public school, especially one of UCLA's stature, is to
find the very best teachers. Typically, teaching and research
excellence, all other things being equal, will be distributed roughly
evenly across the political spectrum. But your argument seems to
equate the very presence of some "very liberal teachers and very
conservative teachers" as
equaling balance. Morevoer, you endorse the idea that diversity
background is a good idea.
Wrong. The best professors can and should give no indication of
their personal biases. The baseball umpire's philosophy should
prevail - that is, the best-called game is one in which the umpire is
for all purposes invisible. Likewise, the best professor should
showcase their teaching skills - which includes teaching both sides of
every important social issue - and not their personal politics, be they
liberal or conservative.
The status quo at UCLA is for professors to bring their politics into
the classroom and make them an active point of discussion. Worse
yet, these personal views become an
unstated expectation underlying everything that happens in the class -
lectures, student comments, and all graded activities.
- Where do I demand a form of affirmative action for
conservatives? Talk about a straw man argument!
- Your dorm room door was vandalized by an upside-down cross...by
unnamed Bruin Christians. Without telling me anything more, this
is purely an anecdote on your part - its veracity unknowable.
As an anecdote, it holds no more weight than my
experience, which is that the only
anti-Semitism on campus is coming from leftist radicals who hate the
state of Israel. Chief among these zealots are the members of the
Muslim Student Association who every year hold an 'anti-Zionism week' -
which devolves into a kaffiyeh-clad festival of Jew-hatred.
Meanwhile, the predominantly Christian membership of the Bruin
Republicans was the only non-Jewish campus group to stand with Bruins
for Israel during the Israeli Independence Week rally of 2001.
This is a
relationship which has blossomed since 9/11 with the growing
that the battle Israel faces now is a window into a possible future
of America's should we not win the War on Terror.
Moreover, on a national level, who has been a huge advocate for Jews in
general and Israel in particular? None other than that fiendish
Christian (and Republican!) devil, President George W. Bush.
Was there Christian anti-Semitism on the UCLA campus
at some point in the past? I can't speak to that.
Anti-Semitism has been an unfortunate problem throughout history.
But for someone who experienced anti-Semitism, your solution ('Leave
radicals alone') is a prescription for more anti-Semitism, not less.
Perhaps in isolated cases from the past, Christian UCLA students
engaged in anti-Jewish activities. But the only two groups guilty
that now are on your side - general radicals, and radical Muslims.
Lastly was a letter from a 1990 alumna, who scolded:
"I am a proud alumna of UCLA, having received my BA
in 1990. One of my
first experiences on campus was a political rally denouncing the
system then in place in South Africa.
College campuses have long had a venerable history
of passionate social
activism. I am sorry that you apparantly find this offensive."
A debate coach would highlight this response as a
textbook case of misrepresentation. We're most definitely aware
the anti-war side is engaged in passionate activism.
That's not what the BAA has a problem with. The BAA has a problem
with the specific goals bring pursued, and the violent, divisive
methods the radicals employ in that pursuit.
Did the BAA's email condemn all activism? No, it
condemned radical activism, because it is objectively wrong.
Despite having attended UCLA, I didn't become one of the graduates who,
by the end had become so open-minded that his brains had fallen
out. There's still right; there's still wrong. That's why
the BAA would applaud the Israeli Independence Week activities -
because they're right - and condemn the Muslim Student Association's
Anti-Zionism Week activities - because they're wrong.
While it seems nearly impossible, the
quality of discourse in the dozens of other responses was at an even
lower level than the three featured above. Most launched into
irrelevant Bush-bashing. They assume, falsely, that the
BAA is only for Republicans, when in fact, it's a valuable resource for
any member of the UCLA community or the public in general who 's
concerned with the extreme radicalism which currently dominates campus
The other factor characterizing the responses was
the constant employment of expletives, and a general tone of
hostility. But I didn't need email responses to tell me that
political radicals are angry. To do that, I can just drive up to
UCLA and listen to any one of a number of professors. And they
won't (usually) use explitives.