On Nov. 9, the Cornell University chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women will welcome Ann Coulter ’84 as a guest speaker to a leadership event. Given Ann Coulter’s history of spreading white supremacist ideals and provocatory statements meant to instigate instead of foster productive conversations, Cornell should prevent such a spread of hateful rhetoric by canceling this event.
Ann Coulter graduated from Cornell with a BA in history and helped found The Cornell Review, an independent right-leaning media organization featured on outlets such as Fox News, Breitbart and The Daily Caller, according to their website. She is a prolific author of controversial books such as In Trump We Trust, If Democrats Had Any Brains They’d Be Republicans and How to Talk to a Liberal.
The Network of Enlightened Women is an organization of conservative women funded in part by the Koch family, a dynasty of billionaires that promotes extreme right-wing values. The Koch family has a history of funding Nazi oil reserves and collaborating with Nazis for decades.
For those unfamiliar with Ann Coulter’s track record, we are not seeking to “cancel” her merely for identifying as a conservative. Rather, we want accountability for her extremist rhetoric that qualifies as hate speech. She has fomented alarmism over white genocide, declared that racism against people of color does not exist in America and claimed women should not have the right to vote “because women see the government as their husbands.”
As if her blatant white supremacy was not enough, she referred to Mexican culture as “obviously deficient” as it consists of “honor killings [and] uncles raping their nieces.” The Guardian wrote in 2003 that she believed the Iraq war “missed out all the other Muslim countries that should be on America’s target list,” saying on Sept. 13, 2001, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” While this invective is appalling, it is far from representative of the full list of her alarming statements. While we do not wish to give Ann Coulter the satisfaction of generating controversy off of which she thrives, we believe that rallying the Cornell community to condemn bigotry is essential.
Unfortunately, we were informed by the Campus Activities Office that there were no intentions to cancel the event, although a petition created by the co-writer of this article, Troy Moslemi ’24, has been circulating with hundreds of students in favor of not having Coulter on campus. When prompted on what Cornell is doing to address the presence of an overtly white supremacist guest speaker on campus, we were only informed that Cornell offers resources to support those who may be concerned or affected. Yet, how can the University expect to adequately provide emotional support to students when the reputation of Cornell’s commitment to mental health is already abysmal. We have requested that the University improve their resources for the event, but we have not received any response back.
There is a growing phenomenon of conservatives weaponizing victimhood and complaining about being censored for exercising free speech (that is, speech that only benefits them). Yet, in an era of proliferating fascist rhetoric, anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ legislature, police brutality, violent attacks against queer people, conservative politicians banning books and much more, we must ask ourselves where the true discrimination lies. Ironically, despite their supposed devotion to academic freedom, the NeW Cornell chapter’s Instagram page deleted and disabled comments on their post promoting Ann Coulter’s event after it was flooded with disapproving comments.
Free speech assumes that there are no inequalities, which allows everyone to have an equal voice. Therefore, Cornell University not preventing Ann Coulter from speaking on campus upholds the status quo whereby an oppressive class has the largest voice in an era where the Republican Party, despite being unpopular, can win the presidency through the biased Electoral College and win seats in the House with help by illicit gerrymandering. By allowing a powerful right-wing pundit who revels in hate and controversy onto campus, Cornell turns a blind eye to extremism that may pose a threat to vulnerable students. If Cornell University truly wishes to exemplify their motto of “To Do the Greatest Good,” they must put forth a greater effort in amplifying marginalized communities and curtailing harmful rhetoric.
Troy Moslemi is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Isabella DiLizia is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Guest Room runs periodically this semester.