Guest Room | Joseph Sabia et al.
For nearly 25 years, The Cornell Review has been a reliable bulwark against socialism, cultural relativism, and racial segregation. Despite operating in a hostile political environment, its writers have bravely carried the flag for conservative and libertarian ideas. And every few years, like clockwork, radical students try to shut down this indispensable newspaper.
In 1995, students repeatedly stole and dumped hundreds of Cornell Reviews to prevent students from reading them. In 1997, residents from Cornell’s racially segregated dormitory, Ujamaa Residential College, burned hundreds of copies of The Cornell Review at a Nuremberg-style rally. In 1999, there was a student movement to defund the newspaper because of an “insensitive” political cartoon. In 2001, the administration admonished The Cornell Review for bringing Ann Coulter ’85 to campus to speak about the Confederate Flag. (At her speech, Coulter was pelted with oranges by members of the Hispanic separatist group MEChA.) In 2004-2005, the administration attempted to shut down The Cornell American, a cousin conservative paper, for opposing racial preferences.
And so, the article about The Cornell Review in last week’s Sun brought back old memories. It’s the same old story really. Student reads Cornell Review. Student gets offended. Student starts mini-riot. Student demands The Cornell Review be sanctioned, censored, dumped, burned, or eaten by rottweilers. Ivy League liberals like to think they are champions of freedom and academic liberty, but when faced with an opinion with which they disagree, they turn into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without the charm.
The latest proposal, which has been attempted numerous times before, is to strip The Cornell Review of the Cornell name. Apparently this idea came out of a series of campus protests. (There's more dignity at a Wal-Mart sale on Thanksgiving weekend than at most Leftist campus protests.) The intent of the name-stripping plan is to punish The Cornell Review, regulate its content, impose prior restraint on it, and most of all, to make clear to students that Cornell University does not tolerate conservative thought. If it looks like it, smells like it, and feels like it, you call it what it is: fascist bullying. Cornell’s Orwellian “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds” policy boils down to this—the University is open to all liberal thought from McGovern to Mao; anything else is subject to condemnation as “hate speech” by Day Hall and may be expunged from the public square.
If the standard for removing the Cornell name from a Cornell organization is taking offense to something the organization does, then any student could find any reason to remove the Cornell name from the Cornell Catholic Community, the Cornell University Gay-Straight Alliance, Cornellians for the Congo, the Chinese Christian Fellowship at Cornell, the Cornell Democrats, The Cornell Lunatic, The Cornell Progressive, The Cornell French Society, Cornell Hillel Jewish Student Union, Cornell International Justice Mission, Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee, The Black Cornellian Woman, East Africans at Cornell, and the Cornell Organization for Labor Action…just to name a new. Therefore, stripping The Cornell Review of its name would be clear evidence that Cornell had an institutionalized political bias. Left-leaning organizations would be free to continue using the Cornell name, while right-leaning groups would be subject to regulation and sanction. Forcing The Cornell Review to dissociate with Cornell would have a chilling effect on free speech.
The assault on The Cornell Review has one purpose: to intimidate campus conservatives. Here is some advice for the current Cornell Review staff from a few alumni who fought these battles a decade ago:
(1) Refuse to discuss the content of The Cornell Review with those who wish to punish and censor. Any discussion of the newspaper’s content with them implicitly concedes prior restraint.
(2) Republish the offending article in a larger font on page one with the following headline for the campus bullies: Go to Hell.
(3) Start a new column in The Cornell Review called “Censor of the Month,” in which the paper features a Leftist administrator who has advocated censoring conservative ideas (suggested nominee: free speech-foe Kent Hubbell, the Dean of Students and aspiring Thought Police Chief, who has been ranting about regulating The Cornell Review’s “hate speech” for years).
(4) If the Student Assembly passes a resolution, ignore it. Everyone else does. Continue to use the Cornell name. If lawyers in Day Hall are foolish enough to issue a cease and desist letter, contact the media. Let Cornell explain to its alumni and the public at large why it has decided to specifically target The Cornell Review—a conservative institution on campus for 25 years—for legal sanction. Let them explain why free speech for conservatives is dead at Cornell. The bad press will not be pleasant for the fundraisers in Day Hall.
It is long past time that Cornell students learned an important lesson: In the real world, life is about encountering ideas with which you disagree and, yes, being offended. Grow up and deal with it.
Joseph J. Sabia ’97 Ph.D. ’04 was a columnist for The Cornell Review from 1998-2003 and a Sun columnist from 2003-2004. Michael E. Capel ’97 M.P.A. ’98 was Chairman of The Cornell Review from 1996-1998. Michael J. Pulizotto ’94 was The Cornell Review Washington Bureau Chief from 1992-1994. Vincent J. Flanagan ’96 was the Co-Chairman of the Student Assembly Finance Commission from 1995-1996.