Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Refuting "Balance": Why YAF Must Be Condemned

Responding to Michael's post, I think that an important clarification must be made.

I would not seek to achieve balance in the story. I think that the debate in the comments section over whether or not it was achieved is a petty one since that argument is basically focused on semantics, and I never view that as productive. The entire debate looked at where the balancing needed to happen, and as Professor Green notes, there may be a false premise here. I don't really care if the balancing would be achieved by seeking the opinion of campus administrators or conservative students because both parties would be providing content that isn't necessarily worthy of being published in a legitimate news outlet such as The Hatchet (which it is, even if it is not always respectable).

Michael mentioned that Sergio Gor is well-known. That is true. It is only because he is a right-wing extremist and has actively sought to disseminate his opinions and ideas often through controversial means. And one thing that I am really, really sick of is the ridiculous amount of sympathy that goes to Gor and what people perceive as his plight for having to deal with persecution he receives for espousing his ideology.

GW really needs to wake up. It is time to put the Blackberries down and take the Ugg boots off and realize that sometimes, persecution is deserved (or it is at least to be expected). Without meaning to sound eerily like Francis Fukuyama and declare that we are nearing the end of history, I would like to think that we have reached the point in time where we all condemn discrimination of all sorts and (almost more importantly), we condemn ignorance, which is of course a source of discrimination.

Let me illustrate precisely what I mean. Some months ago, after the spread of satirical posters that I would of course admit WERE in very bad taste, Gor gave the following statement to the Hatchet:
“We are being targeted because we are conservative,” said Gor, who left the meeting before its conclusion. “No way in shape or in form do we support hate speech.”
Problem: the group Gor heads, the GW chapter of the Young America's Foundation, does support hate speech. Because...
Gor said GW YAF is hosting several events at the end of the month for “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
And while you are free to assert yourself if you do not believe that the term "Islamo-Fascism" constitutes hate speech but I am pretty strongly convinced that it is. I do not want to go into the origin of the term and why it is used, but suffice it to say that it is specifically designed to foster ignorance by equating two things from different disciplines that cannot be linked so simply and thereby confuses the reader. This is in turn fuels discrimination from someone who is acting based on fear and other generalized emotions and who has not discerned the problem with the label. Of course, the label is not designed so that you discern a problem with it. I think we all know that it is meant to evoke a kneejerk reaction.

And for those who do actually believe that there is such a thing as Islamo-fascism, I would encourage you to take some courses in our international affairs, history, political science, or economics departments so that you can figure out for yourself that the roots of terrorism are more complicated than meets the eye (hint: it's not because "they hate us for our freedoms").

In any case...

Gor's group does espouse ignorance and thereby causes discrimination, and as such it does not deserve a fair say. I disagree with Shannon - I do think that the group is fringe. The GW Patriot describes Gor as an unpopular man and YAF as an equally unpopular organization (although the writer then expresses sympathy for Gor's oh-so-tragic predicament). The point is that he is unpopular for a pretty good reason: because his organization is now past our consciousness as a University.

It is a broad statement, but I do think tolerance has limits. For example, I think that Austria's laws against denying the Holocaust are entirely justified. But the principle is the same when I'm discussing why YAF does not deserve "balance" when it is covered. In this day in age, the end of history or not, it should still be the prerogative of a major university to condemn groups that specifically attempt to mislead and misinform the public (especially when the "public" is the student body attempting to mature, grow and learn for the future). YAF does do this, even if it will not admit to it. So just as President Knapp was definitely correct for condemning the idiotic and unintelligent response to YAF, it still does not mean that he must not condemn YAF itself. Yes, the criticisms of the group were not applied and articulated correctly. But the criticisms themselves are still very much legitimate.

If in the all-so-holy name of Balance the Hatchet decides to give YAF a voice, then it is in effect sheltering it from these criticsms. This is a shame since (and I will not apologize for this) the organization is bound to be (and deserves to be) a target of vitriol for the hate and misinformation that it does espouse.

In this time in history it is simply not acceptable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unrelated but i did not see a way to email you.

In Jake Sherman's latest blog post he says that the round table with Nancy Pelosi in Gelman yesterday was "kept under wraps for security purposes and also because we didn’t have a live-studio audience"

MTVu put out a press release on April 2 ( and the story was all over the Web just Google the press release title.

It seems one of the only publications to not run a story that the event was going to happen was the Hatchet.