“Hypocrisy,” says Merriam-Webster is,”a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not.” Nothing could describe the UNC Young Democrats’ recent actions more aptly.
About a month ago, the UNC College Republicans submitted a funding request to the Finance Committee of Student Congress for a $20,000 grant to provide an honorarium for conservative commentator, Ann Coulter. After facing some criticism for the size of the request, CR Chairman Greg Steele agreed to a compromise whereby the CRs would receive a $15,000 grant and a $5000 loan from Congress.
Despite the fact that this request was totally within the normal bounds of funding requests, it was apparently too much for some in Congress. Steele said that he expected the event to draw at least 550 people (and possibly many more). However, some members of Congress still complained that the cost of the event was too high (approximately $27 per person). Of course, the per person cost of the event could have been much lower if Congress was willing to appropriate an extra $1000 to the group to cover the costs of renting Memorial Hall (with a capacity of about 1500). Instead, members of the Young Democrats moved to cut the grant size to $5000, and the bill was quickly amended to add $10,000 to the fundraising/loan category. Given that the event was scheduled for September 20 (approximately three weeks later), expecting the CRs to raise $15,000 in such a short time span was unrealistic. However, the measure ($5000 grant and $15,000 loan) passed, by a vote of 10-6-6, with the six CRs in Congress abstaining in accordance with Congress’ ethical requirements
The ridiculousness of this “compromise” was evident to nearly everyone on campus (except the YDs apparently). Student Body President Mary Cooper vetoed the funding request saying, “Expecting the group to raise such a large dollar amount for a speaker mostly ex post facto is unrealistic and sets a precedent that I find to be unacceptable.” The YDs continued to complain that Coulter was too polarizing and didn’t contribute to the intellectual debate on campus, but Congress sustained the veto by a vote of 26-1-1. So, the CRs prepared to go before Congress again with a new request.
On September 20, the day Ann Coulter was originally supposed to speak, Steele and the CRs went before the Finance Committee with a new request. It reflected the compromise originally worked out between the group and the Finance Committee (a $15,000 grant and $5000 loan) and passed with one dissenting vote.
At the next meeting of Congress on September 27, the CRs again ran into stiff wall of liberal intolerance. Reiterating their complaints about how dumb Ann Coulter is and how expensive she is, the YDs led the charge against the funding request. Ignoring the efforts the CRs made to accommodate Congress’ concerns (including making tickets only available to students and agreeing not to submit another request for money in the spring), the body killed the request on a 6-8-13 vote.
As if this couldn’t get any better, there’s another wrinkle in the story. Today, the YDs submitted a request for $14,000 to bring in Naomi Wolf. Now, I consider myself fairly well-informed when it comes to American politics, but I had no idea who this person was until I Googled her name. She looks to be some sort of radical feminist who’s a part of the George-Bush-is-a-fascist parade.
This is ironic, first because the YDs (and many others) claimed that Ann Coulter was “too divisive” and not an intellectual. From what I can tell, this woman, who’s written all of two books, has very little to add in the way of intellectual debate and is merely a liberal flamethrower. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’s sort of liberal Hayek, but based on my initial impressions, their choice in speaker is highly ironic.
Second, their request is nearly identical in size to the CRs’ request, yet the YDs predict that their speaker will affect roughly 80% fewer people than Ann Coulter. According to their request, they expect about 100 people to show up to this event, at a cost of $140 per person, making it roughly five times more expensive than the Coulter event. For all of you keeping track, the CRs have received exactly $0.00 from Congress this year.
The audacity of this request is breath-taking. After spending the last month condescendingly lecturing the CRs about not spending all of Congress’ money in one place, I certainly didn’t see this one coming. That they could spend a month criticizing the CRs for the size of the Coulter request, all while planning on submitting a similar request for their own speaker requires the willing suspension of disbelief. If the YDs were truly concerned about the size of the funding request, they would not have submitted a similarly large request mere days after rejecting the CRs’ request. It is now clear that opposition to the Coulter event was grounded only in political ideology and had nothing to do with the size of the price tag.