Saturday, March 04, 2006

Letter to the editor of the Oberlin Review, sent Feb. 23, 2006:

To the Editors:

On Wednesday, February 15, the Oberlin College Republicans (with the generous support of alumnus Steven Shapiro and others) brought conservative columnist and writer Michelle Malkin (OC ’92) to campus. Ms. Malkin spoke about the “unhinged” and hypocritical elements of the political left, and did the service of bringing attention to one aspect of the existing political landscape that has otherwise been conveniently ignored at Oberlin.

After the event, in his sardonic letter of February 17, “Campus Dialogue is Tiring,” Lee Rubenstein made a variety of brash assertions about the objectives and actions of our organization, including that the College Republicans (CRs) are “creating a conservative/liberal binary that portrays liberals as idiot freedom haters.” His body of evidence: an event flyer.

While I am pleased that Mr. Rubenstein put such thought into examining our advertisements, I’m afraid he missed the point.

Mr. Rubenstein writes that the CRs are “sick and tired of all the dialogue on this campus.” While perhaps an attractive fantasy to some, I can not think of a notion more overwhelmingly contradicted by the facts. To my knowledge, our organization has done more than any other in recent semesters to bring to campus points of view outside the realm of status quo political discussion at Oberlin. By ensuring that conservative ideas get exposure on campus, the CRs have made a vital contribution to the robustness of debate here, and the record demonstrates this plainly.

Mr. Rubenstein also writes about the choice of the CRs to use University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill on one of its flyers to illustrate (as Ms. Malkin did in her new book) this “unhinged” element of the left. Though the underlying logic is unclear, he thereby deduces that the CRs believe that all liberals “[like] to rationalize the brutal murder of thousands of people,” as Mr. Churchill did, and that respect for terrorism is “typical” of liberals. The fact is, these are the words of Mr. Rubenstein, and neither the CRs nor our guest Michelle Malkin ever stated or implied such a ludicrous thing.

Near the end of his letter, Mr. Rubenstein points his finger at members of the CRs for isolating themselves in “the echo chamber.” The characterization is absurd, and the presence of an outspoken group of conservatives has only gone to counter the echoes that might otherwise deafen Oberlin.

Jonathan Bruno
Oberlin College Republicans