When I wrote the article, I was fired up over how stupid Fordham looked on TV. Its very easy, when you read and edit opinion pieces all day (as I do for the Jerusalem Post) that you believe you can really put forward a strong voice too.
After I wrote it, I didn't think it was too relevant for most news outlets, but I thought it could be used as a space filler somewhere, so I sent it to a couple places. I thought the response from the New York Post was the best (well the only one I received) because it so clearly cut to my soul. "Sorry, I'll pass." Might as well say, "Apologies Ms. Kelly, but you just wasted about 4 minutes and 32 seconds of my life that I will never get back, I don't seek to do that to anyone else. "
As if I had a roster of editors waiting on baited breath for my next ground breaking opinion piece. Nope, just wanted to throw my piece into the world and see if it landed anywhere.
So I will publish it here, and let all, maybe the 2 or 3 people who see this blog, see what can take up a full day of my life.
For Shame Father McShane
By LAURA KELLY
Fordham University’s President has given the school its most recent notoriety for all the wrong reasons.
I am proud to say I graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx, NY. But recently Fordham has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons and giving a poor example of its ideals and the quality of its students.
On Monday’s “O’Reilly factor,” on Fox News, my alma mater was the subject of the segment “Watters world,” by Jesse Watters. The controversy that was the topic of the report began in the start of November. The campus group College Republicans invited controversial conservative pundit Ann Coulter as a guest speaker. The invitation caused such an outrage among the student body and faculty that the College Republicans very quickly rescinded their invitation. But what made this more than just an issue of cowardice was that the opposition included the influence of the President of Fordham University, Father Joseph M. McShane. In a personal statement to the whole student body on November 9th, the president wrote, “To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement.”
With those words, the President acknowledged his influence and value placed on his opinion. In an email sent to the whole student body, generally uninformed students suddenly had fodder for an opinion, but little information to back it up.
The “Watters world” video package showed an embarrassing picture of young students’ naiveté and ignorance on campus. Interspersed with “Honeymooners” spoofs and cricket noises when students couldn’t answer questions, the video package was a farce. “I read something on her opinions after 9/11 and I didn’t like them,” said one bubbly, blonde, tanned female student. Watters asked what Coulter had said after 9/11. “I don’t specifically remember,” the young girl replied. Watters then spoke to one student who was able to offer informed insight on his reasons for being against the Ann Coulter appearance. “I would not have wanted her to be prevented,” the student said. “I would rather her allowed, and myself allowed to protest the event.” Watters raised the issue of the University’s decision to invite Peter Singer, “a man with extreme views who agrees with infanticide and bestiality.” Watters asked if the young student went to protest Singer’s appearance. “No I didn’t,” he said. “I had class at that time.”
But the absurdness of the video speaks to the absurdness of the situation. The College Republicans were bullied into rescinding their invitation. The statement by Father McShane was meant to make a call to arms. “The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with a test of its character,” he wrote. “The old saw goes that the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especially true at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty, alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly and respectfully, and forcefully.”
Most students do realize that when they agree to attend a private Catholic University constitutional rights such as freedom of speech aren’t absolute. Instead of addressing the issue that Fordham actually does have a say in opinions which they offer a platform too, Father McShane abused his power and influence under the guise of free speech. He invoked the Catholic traditions of good vs. evil and gave uninformed students the ammo to take a stand on issues they know nothing about. “Half the people don’t even know why they don’t like Ann Coulture,” Watters said.
Watters said the University wouldn’t give him anyone to speak to and had to flag down an “innocent assistant dean” that wasn’t involved in the decision making process of inviting speakers to the University. The bottom line, as said by O’Reilly, is that this is embarrassing for a respectable school.
It is embarrassing. Father McShane abused his popularity to attack a decision made by a bunch of kids who appeared to be as uniformed as to the reasons they invited Coulter as the ones who opposed her. In a statement explaining why the College Republicans rescinded Coulter’s invitation they wrote, “We regret that we failed to thoroughly research her…that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it.”
The “Watters world” segment was a ridiculously produced news segment as was the issue it was sent to cover. However, it is Fordham’s shame too that it brought itself low enough to be made fun of in this way.