They publicly threw eggs at photographs of then Democratic Nominee Barack Obama. They blacklist academics at an institution of higher education. Their faculty advisor resigns. Conservatives, teach your children well. The movement of fear mongering, it seems, is exceeding expectations at Texas A & M University ("TAMU"). Ashamed, the faculty advisor of the TAMU Young Conservatives of Texas ("YCT") has resigned according to a story reported in the Sunday edition of the Bryan/College Station Eagle.
Before the Presidential election, the YCT chapter at Texas A & M University hosted an "Anti-Obama Carnival". The fun included throwing eggs at a photograph of now President-Elect Barack Obama on the TAMU campus. Even at a campus well known for its conservative views, this "egg toss" at the then Democratic nominee caused remarkable push back by other students who observed the spectacle.
The event caused TAMU President Elsa A. Marano to issue a statement emphasizing respect in political discourse and distancing the University from the "fun".
However, the TAMU chapter of the YCT’s remained true to their wing nut role models and turned their focus to blacklisting. In short, the YCT decided to plaster and pass out flyers with pictures and names of TAMU faculty members who had signed a petition opposing the "demonization" of Bill Ayers. The petition had asked for support for Ayers based on his work in education "[As] an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment and liberation" and has garnered in excess of 4200 signatures.
The YCT’s, it seems, think such principles smack of the sinister.
"We have questions for these professors, and we would like the A&M student body, former students and the surrounding community to ask these questions with us,...[A]ll these various people who have a stake in Texas A&M have a right to know what these professors believe."
The faculty advisor of the TAMU chapter of the YCT’s has had enough.
"At the outset, I told the YCTs that they needed to stand for all of the things that were good about conservatism, and to reject the bad," said John Fike in an e-mail to the faculty members. "I also told them that if I was ever ashamed of them, that was it for me. I am now ashamed beyond words."
Fike is a professor in engineering technology and industrial engineering and a former speaker of the TAMU faculty Senate. According to Fike "he didn't agree with everything the group leaders did in recent years but believed they deserved a voice". However, he told the newspaper "When they started attacking my colleagues, I couldn’t continue."
Of course that is fine with the YCT’s. According to the head of the TAMU Chapter, the organization was going to break off the relationship anyway:
Tony Listi, chairman of the Young Conservatives, said group members were going to break off the relationship with Fike -- who advised them for three years -- even if he had not resigned.
"There was a fundamental lack of trust and communication," Listi said, adding that Fike is not a Republican and had a "Barack Obama for President" sign outside his house. The adviser also spoke to media without the students' prior knowledge, Listi said.
According to Fike, despite some good things, the organization had a dark side:
But he said there was another side to the organization that wasn't appealing -- an attention-hungry leadership that cared less about political conservatism and more about controversy, with no regard for the university's image, and no desire to seek their adviser's input.
The Chapter President is a Political Science major. Somewhere I am sure Rush Limbaugh is proud. I will instead use the integrity of Professor Fike to teach another kind of lesson to my children.
UPDATE: Thank you. First appearance on the Rec List. I am humbled. Also thanks to all the "copy editors" who pointed out textual errors - the diary was pubished quickly and the haste showed. I have attempted to update with corrections.
UPDATE No. 2:
A letter and a cloumn in the Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 of the Bryan/College Station Eagle. The Letter reads:
I find it interesting, but not surprising, that John Fike, former adviser to the A&M Young Conservatives of Texas, is "ashamed beyond words" that the organization would attempt to alert the public concerning A&M faculty who support and apparently condone the actions of William Ayers (a violent terrorist and an avowed communist, albeit with a "little c") but apparently is not ashamed of either his colleagues or of Ayers' actions.
A&M is truly becoming The University of Texas-East Campus.
The columnist is authored by Robert Borden, a member of the Eagle editorial board:
Into (the Vietnam era) maelstrom came the Weathermen -- the Weather Underground -- who escalated violence to a new and horrible level. They bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Department of State and led violent attacks on other government buildings.
Ayers was a leader of the Weathermen, as was Bernadette Dorn, now his wife. I cannot and do not excuse their actions, although I understand the times that precipitated them.
Since then, Ayers has become a distinguished professor of education at the University of Chicago. The only reason people today are familiar with his name is because of his casual acquaintance -- and no matter what the rabid right tried to make it, that is what it was -- with Barack Obama.
The teachers at A&M who signed a petition of support for Ayers were supporting the Ayers of today, the distinguished professor, the community do-gooder. They weren't signaling support for the Ayers of 40 years ago -- no one does.
The Aggie Young Conser-vatives would do well to understand the difference.
Like most of us who are products of the '60s, Ayers evolved. The hated war ended and he got on with his life. Rather than trying to tear down society, he has turned his life to building it. He has gained greater perspective on and appreciation for this country and its government.
In other words, he grew up. Some day, maybe, the Aggie Young Conservatives will, too.
And by the way, Aggie Young Conservatives, your now former faculty advisor doesn't need your permission to talk to anybody. You just might figure that out some day, too.
Borden's entire column can be read here.