The following piece was published in a special September 2001 edition of The Georgetown Academy. Like the other two pieces we've published from the TGA archives (here and here) this semester, it was sent to us by alumni. We actually think it's pretty good and shows that in the 14 years since it was published, not a whole lot appears to have changed when it comes to efforts to squelch free speech by the campus left.
Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
‘Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — you’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain
By now, most students, even freshpeople have seen The Academy and heard talk in whispered tones. You may have heard us called every name from “Nazis” to “hate-mongers.” But, chances are, if you’re anything like me two years ago, namely, one very new kid in a bewildering sea of activities to choose from, you will probably understand what I’m talking about. (This also goes for cynical, upperclassmen).
The first time I picked up an issue of The Academy, I was on a whirlwind college tour with my parents: two weeks in the family minivan on a loop between Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Chicago. One of the more interesting pieces of advice I received during the selection process was to pick up the newspapers and journals at each school, as they would clue you in on the daily grind. So I picked up The Hoya, Voice, and TGA. The headlines are long forgotten, but the front cover of the first issue of The Academy still stays with me. It was about how students and student groups had to fight for space in Leavey Center and the “bowels” of ICC while university pencil pushers held court in the “Ivory Tower of Healy Hall.”
Wait a second I thought, this doesn’t make sense. Aren’t universities supposed to put their students ahead of their bureaucrats? That’s what read in the recruiting literature. Upon reading more articles, I was even more intrigued. I read how Georgetown’s Catholic values were being shown the door to make room for the morality du jour. About how, for some at GU, communism (a system based on violence and state control of people’s lives), wasn’t necessarily evil and utilitarianism, (of the variety that preaches that human life is only good until it becomes inconvenient) was acceptable. Academic freedom (that thing that allows a professor to teach the classes they want to) could be sacrificed to populist ideologies. There was a news item about how this Catholic University was just now getting around to restoring crucifixes to its classroom, because some people didn’t want “our religion pushed on them.”
None of this was even mentioned in the other papers here. And I figured out that The Academy was the only magazine with the cojones to highlight these very serious, risible things. I made a note that if I came to Georgetown, i would get involved with The Academy.
I became a member of The Academy as soon as I could. And I began to have fun. I still picked up The Hoya and The Voice, but only to read through them, highlight the most ridiculous items I could find, and write my commentaries exposing campus silliness. I hurled barbs at Women’s Studies for decrying the anti-feminist values on Ally McBeal. I blasphemed against Coach John Thompson and Georgetown’s scared cow, men’s basketball, for debasing Georgetown. I addressed affirmative action and other racist policies and wrote inevitably about the need to scrap GUSA and giving the resume-builder the book.
Some think that TGA crosses the line, that we say the unspeakable. Yes, we do. Nothing except the scared should be sacred, no one who abuses their positions should be safe. We come down on the side of Catholic identity, morality in education, and student liberty and free speech because these ideas are essential for this University. No reasonable person could contradict this, yet there are few campus efforts to advocate these values.
There are some who disagree with us. We welcome this disagreement, especially when it is reasoned, informed, and civil. C’est la vie. Some of course, take their disagreements too far. They attack our integrity and motives, rather than our ideas. Illiberals see us as an evil that should be purged. And sometimes, they act on it.
In October 1998, one such fascist was a member of the Residence Life staff and an employee of President O’Donovan, Bryan Kapeckas, who didn’t want “his freshman exposed to our ideas.” So he helped see to it that our October issue disappeared. We published that issue again with a wider circulation, but not before The Voice denounced us, and The Hoya applauded the “thoughtful soul” who destroyed our magazine. We were accused of writing “hate articles.”
Hate articles! This intellectual laziness caught the eye of the national media. Before it was all over, our enemies’ extremism had made our plight a national issue. Alumni sent unsolicited money and thanked us for working to bring sanity and values back to Georgetown, applauding us for standing up to the P.C. Gestapo, wishing us well in our fight. The Washington Times wrote, followed by National Review. Nationally syndicated columnist John Leo of U.S. News & World Report detailed our struggle, awarding Fr. President O’Donovan the “Sheldon Award.” (“The Sheldon is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except that the Oscar shows a man with no face looking straight ahead, while the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way.”)
The people who stole our issues, and many who cheered, hated us not because we were bigots, but because we made our own decisions and criticized theirs. They were angered by our reasoning, and that we dared scrutinize theirs. They tried to suppress us, drown us out. Instead, we only came back 10 times stronger. And when The Voice was stolen a few months later, it stopped being “hip” to steal newspapers and kill free speech.
A few months later, I had the opportunity to go to a conference held by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), which supports conservative college papers and journals. I soon learned we weren’t the only ones facing this onslaught. I met Dr. Alan Kors, whose presentation showed how topsy-turvy many of America’s top schools had become in this age of political correctness. (His book, The Shadow University, gives all the gory details, and I highly recommend it.) I met editors and staffers from papers at UVA, Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Brandeis, Tufts, Yale, UPenn, Stanford, UNC, Princeton, William & Mary, Dartmouth, Amherst, Holy Cross, and others. All with their own tales of what happened to people who broke the taboos. All with their own stories, controversies, and ideas. We shared ideas, strategies, e-mails, and websites, and I realized that we were not alone. There were others made sick by the b.s. that goes on at colleges, sick of administrators who want to tell us how to think, sick of being punished for expressing ideas. After the conference, I came back home and continued to write, exposing prodding, questioning, and working for a campus that’s grounded in tradition and open to anyone with an idea they want to share.
So, to end the story, if you defy stereotypes and are tired of being told what your ethnic group/gender/religion should say/think/be; if you would like to be a cartoonist, webmaster, writer, opinion leader, organization leader, or business manager; if you would like to stir things up a bit and do something about all the absurd things that go on here, and have fun while you’re at it, you are exactly the kind of person we’re looking for.
Join The Academy. It’s worth it.