“If you want to really discredit somebody in an academic community, you challenge them intellectually,” Prof. Richard Bensel, government, told me. “Anger doesn’t do that.” Had those hecklers wanted to change the opinions of conservatives at Cornell, they would have disciplined their outrage into a well-reasoned argument. Instead of jeering her offstage, they would have challenged Coulter’s hateful rhetoric during the Q&A segment.
Cornellians protested against Ann Coulter, conservative media pundit who visited Cornell as a guest speaker, citing her past anti-muslim, sexist and controversial remarks; in response, several students were escorted out.
The Guest Room “Ann Coulter is Not Welcome Here” denounces Cornell’s decision to host a lecture by Ann Coulter ‘84 to be held on Nov. 9. The op-ed is more performance art than a reasoned argument for violating Cornell’s commitment to free speech and viewpoint diversity.
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.
2019 marks the 10th anniversary of a uniquely Cornellian spat, a weird, manifestly pointless, partially televised dispute between pundits Ann Coulter ’84 and Keith Olbermann ’79. The tussle concerned the Ivy League legitimacy of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which Coulter questioned in an attempt to discredit Olbermann, a CALS alumnus. New York Magazine called the tussle an “awesome college catfight,” The Washington Examiner dubbed Coulter’s comments “schadenfruede-licious” and Jordan Fabian ’09, editor-at-large of The Cornell Review, the conservative student publication Coulter helped found, told The Sun he found her instigation “pretty funny.”
The story of the “catfight” is an entertaining one, but it’s also a cautionary tale of two alumni who exposed toxic Cornell attitudes to a national audience. We should not follow the example they set. Coulter, a right-wing provocateur, is a defective product of Ezra Cornell’s noble institution.
At a time when Ann Coulter ’84 and Keith Olbermann’79 are butting heads over the legitimacy of the Ag School and the value of a communication degree, it seems appropriate for scientists to ask: Are there any facts in Ms. Coulter’s claims? I invite you to look at another (maybe, the third) side of the coin, what we call the narrative of science: Imagine Cornell without Agriculture, without the Life Sciences, without Communication (especially, in the life sciences)…