Friday, September 7, 2007

Ann Coulter at Xavier

Earlier this evening I attended an event at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. I went to hear a speech from a woman with an honors degree from Cornell University and a law degree from University of Michigan Law School. I went to hear what an author of five New York Times bestsellers had to say. I wanted an intellectual lecture, comedic performance, or at least an entertaining circus. All I received was disappointment.

For the past year or so, the College Republicans at Xavier University worked, organized, and fundraised in order to bring Ann Coulter to speak here at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Being a Republican in college at Xavier University, (though not a member of the College Republicans) I wanted to see the final product or all their hard work.

For forty-five minutes, I listened to what could have been a bad night at the Apollo. Instead of an intellectual lecture, I listened to a mediocre stand-up comedian. Awkward silences followed bad jokes. An occasional punch line worked as planned, causing applause or laughter to erupt from various parts of the Cintas Center.

Most students, however, were unimpressed. During the question and answer session, one student asked Ms. Coulter how wanting more Iraqi insurgent deaths could coincide with Christian teachings of love. Ms. Coulter answered confidently that speaking on a stage is different than flying planes into buildings. Most students didn’t think this was a sufficient response. A second student tried again, bravely using a complex wording to ask the simple wristband question “what would Jesus do?” Ms. Coulter responded (not sure on the exact wording of the quote-meaning is the same) “I don’t know, but apparently you do.” In a debate, some believe that proving your opponent wrong automatically makes you right. The Xavier students were not fooled.

While hecklers at large state schools often boo her off stage with disrespectful remarks, Xavier’s students rose to the occasion, always being respectful despite Ms. Coulter’s controversial stances and sometimes abrasive comments. For this, I am proud of my fellow students. However, a few protesting hecklers getting kicked out might have made the event a little more exciting…

On a positive note, Ms. Coulter did make a few intelligent remarks. Her comments on the negatives of a socialist health care system, her ideas on improving government education through a voucher program, and her overall endorsement of capitalism held true to conservative values. She also did a good job illustrating that the American death toll in Iraq has decreased with the increased “surge” of troops. More importantly, for these few, brief moments, she presented her ideas without her usual malice.

I commend the College Republicans on their hard work in putting this event together, but I feel that in no way was Ms. Coulter’s performance worth the roughly $20,000 it cost to bring her here. To the people offended by tonight’s presentation, I commend you for acting in a respectful, positive manner. Instead of getting angry and disrespectful, you got motivated, raising nearly $25,000 for various groups on campus that Ms. Coulter has insulted.

Ms. Coulter, I am disappointed. I think you are detrimental to the image of what it means to be a Republican. While some may subscribe to your incendiary comments, many more are offended and appalled. You are an intelligent woman who has the power and fame to bring important issues to the discussion table. You have the media watching your every move. Why not use that power to do something more productive? Use your first amendment right to advance political discourse, not just to bash anyone who disagrees with you. You’re getting paid $20,000 to talk for less than an hour. Next time, replace the comedy with substance. Replace the hate with tolerance – of even understanding. Replace the tenacity with an open mind. Then you might be able to advance political discourse to a higher level – what the first amendment was originally intended to do.

But then again, she got paid $20,000 to talk for an hour while I wrote this for free. So what do I know?

- Kevin Hoggatt

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