November 27, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Criticizing Rick Santorum’s Visit to Cornell

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Re: “Cornell Republicans to Host Rick Santorum as Fall Speaker,” News, Nov. 14

To the Editor:

Appreciating the challenge of producing the immediate post-election issue of The Cornell Daily Sun I wanted to congratulate your staff on a fine job of grappling with both the emotional and strategic issues facing the Cornell and broader Ithaca communities at this time.

One article reported on the front page deserves critical comment, however. The invitation of Rick Santorum to visit and speak on behalf of the Cornell Republicans is presented as an uncontroversial, even thoughtful choice of a group who claims to want to return its attention to conservative philosophy after being distracted by the Trump campaign, which Santorum, unlike the Cornell Republicans, supported and endorsed.

Santorum is an extreme Islamaphobe, climate change denier, homophobe and sexist, who is opposed to the use of contraceptives even in marriage. His infamous comment to President Obama related to welfare provoked a media debate about whether his greater problem was his ignorance or his racism. Shame on the Cornell Republicans for choosing an anti-intellectual right-wing extremist to misrepresent conservatism. And to the greater campus community: let’s not allow decisions like this one to be normalized in the present dangerous national climate.

Prof. Barbara Regenspan, Colgate University

17 thoughts on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Criticizing Rick Santorum’s Visit to Cornell

  1. Prof. Regenspan, I know you are angry, that is clear from the tone of your letter. And your resort to the old name calling trope (racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, Islamaphobe, climate change denier) without listing any facts is, sadly, the fallback of an increasingly marginalized minority. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe YOU are the one who has lost a firm grip on reality?

      • First of all, citing to Wikipedia as authority is probably something of which even Prof. Regenspan would not approve. Second, I’ve read Rick Santorum’s Wikipedia page and it in no way says he’s racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, Islamaphobe or a climate change denier. Third, this is simply a laundry list the Left rolls out constantly to smear those with whom they disagree.

        • His publicly comparing homosexual relationships to “abusive man on child, or man on dog” relationships is pretty glaringly homophobic. In 2015, he promised NOT to uphold the SCOTUS decision to legalize same sex marriage.

          He went on CNN to explain that he opposes abortion in ALL circumstances, and that women should “make the best out of a bad situation.” In a Fox interview he said that contraception is a “moral, grievous wrong.” But then he also went on to say that too many young, single women are having children. Interesting dilemma there.

          He publicly denies climate change science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMcpz87EahU

          He sponsored the Santorum Amendment which forced schools to teach intelligent design in science classes. That’s not bigoted, but it’s anti-science and dangerous to children, and his religious faith shouldn’t be anywhere near this close to his political agenda.

          He publicly stated many times that too many people and families are LEGALLY immigrating to the US and it’s harming the American way of life. It takes only a few minutes of economic research to understand the worldwide benefit of legal immigration.

          A few of the things listed above all indicate that he’s a climate change denier, sexist, homophobe, and xenophobe.

          I don’t think any of these things are good enough reason for him NOT to come speak at Cornell (though he has already appeared at Cornell in the last few years, so maybe that’s good enough reason). I just think we should call his views for what they are and not beat around the bush. If you don’t want to call his views/opinions sexist or homophobic, that’s fine. I don’t care what you call it. The real matter is that all of the things I just listed are morally objectionable and cancerous to society.

          Wikipedia is a pretty reliable source, especially because all of the information is cited at the bottom of the page. If you’re trying to quickly summarize a bunch of facts in one place, wiki is a great place to do that. I agree it has no place in academics, but it’s still an excellent source of information and a good starting point to learn about something.

          • By your standard, Obama is a homophobe. Santorum’s comments about homosexual relationships was made 13 years ago and he his since repeatedly repudiated them.

          • Those comments were as recent as 2015, and he continues to publicly oppose LGBT equality. I don’t disagree that by that standard alone Obama could be construed to be homophobic. Obama may have privately supported LGBT equality all his life but only opposed it politically to advance his career. Only until recently has it become politically acceptable to publicly support LGBT rights, and it sucks that successful politicians took so long to speak out about this issue. But as of recently, Obama has provided immense support to the LGBT community and has taken a clear pro-LGBT stance. It’s not really fair to say that Obama and Santorum are on the same page regarding LGBT issues. Regardless, that’s not really relevant, and you successfully managed to ignore all of the other things I mentioned.

  2. What a sigh of relief I had when I realized this letter was from a non-Cornell professor. An educator should want to expose students to new, challenging, and controversial ideas. An educator should not make biased personal attacks as a way to invalidate a person’s beliefs or arguments. Liberals throw “racism” around so freely that it’s lost a lot of meaning and power, which is bad because actual racism needs to be addressed seriously. What the cheap use of the word does achieve is to insulate young, open-minded students from any opposing viewpoints.

  3. With people like Professor Regenspan running around loose, we’ll have more Presidents like Donald Trump. The so-called “progressive elites” have lost the plot. Has it occurred to her that her elitist views are a direct attack on the right to free speech? Why shouldn’t the students be allowed to make up their own minds once they’ve heard Santorum speak. Shesh.

  4. Regardless of the content of this letter, the grammar mistakes alone made the author’s point almost unintelligible. How is this person a professor??

  5. As an Cornell alum from the late 1970’s, I felt privileged to be part of a university community in which people with all types of viewpoints were welcomed to speak. From the “right”, I saw speakers like former CIA Director William Colby and William F. Buckley. From the left, Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to expand their horizons and listen to people with opposing viewpoints. That is what makes a place like Cornell so stimulating and enriching. You don’t have to agree with every speaker. And if someone offends you so much, just stay home. But let’s not succumb to political correctness and censorship from the right or the left, and let’s keep Cornell a place where people from all political persuasions are allowed to come and speak without.

  6. So much for entertaining intellectual discussions and differing viewpoints. Stay on your own campus, kook. She should lose her tenure…..

  7. Despite its morning after comments of November 9th, despite its fleeting remorse at having disconnected from the concerns of ordinary Americans, it is obvious that the left prefers to retreat back into its various safe zones and echo chambers. Where no opinions but theirs are welcome or heard.

    It says much about these opinions that they need isolation to gain acceptance. Apparently they fear exposure even more than cockroaches. Old habits are indeed hard to break.

  8. Pingback: Former presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, to speak at Cornell – The Ithaca Voice |

  9. As a Cornell alumnus, a journalist and someone with generally liberal views, I want to join those expressing dismay at the comments by Professor Regenspan. I have heard fOrmer Senstor Santorum speak, and while II disagree with many of his views, he is exactly the kind of speaker that should be available for college students to hear.
    What in the world are people afraid of? And why is the Cornell Daily Sun paying any attention to the views of a Colgate professor? Surely there are enough people on the Cornell campus with opposing views on the senator.

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