I’ll admit to being a conservative. I call Louisiana home, am staunchly pro-life and voted for Bush without a moment’s regret. Proudly, I’ll fess up to backing Israel over those who want to destroy her, democracy over tyranny, religiosity over secularism – as would most who identify themselves with the “right” end of political discourse.
Yet, one of our most visible, if perhaps infamous, political “thinkers,” Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, has turned his inquisitorial lens on Georgetown University, on Wednesday’s show calling us a “hotbed of radical left thought.” Further, he accused our school, and fellow institutions such as Harvard, with teaching propaganda rather than academics.
The source of his misbegotten outrage was a protest at the Law Center against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. There, several students, in an admittedly outrageous act and cloaked in hoods, disrespectfully turned their back on our top cop. Now, I wholeheartedly approve of our First Amendment right to protest, but law students, especially those admitted to our school, should know that such an action is a reprehensible reception for an invited guest of his stature, regardless of the president under whom he serves. It reflects shamefully on our school and all of its students, graduate or undergraduate, past and present.
That said, this action was an isolated incident planned and perpetrated by individual students, in no way the result of administrative intent, plans or indoctrination. Mr. O’Reilly’s blanket assertion of our liberalism ignores the facts and particularities of our school, and attributes isolated action to approval by the President’s Office. His opinion of our institution is inflamed, I suspect, by his ongoing feud with Law Professor David Cole, whom the anchor speaks of as if Cole were a communist.
The fact is that I have taken no class at Georgetown in my three years here with an overt political ideology; our College Republicans and College Democrats are vigorous organizations. As an economics major, several of my professors have openly spoken of their support for the Bush administration, while at the same time not trying to convince, sway or ridicule. This same open attitude exudes from the political comments of every self-confessed liberal instructor I have known. Here at Georgetown, unequivocally, there remains an intact separation between personal politics and class curriculum.
How can we be called liberal when one of our more visible professors, our Hoya alumni figurehead, is none other than George Tenet, former director of central intelligence, oft blamed by the left, sometimes singularly, for 9/11? Has O’Reilly not heard we are thinking of hiring Douglas Feith, former Bush Defense Department aficionado? Combine this information with our employment of former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and one would be hard-pressed to label our staff, and our hiring procedures, as anything but “fair and balanced.”
O’Reilly has one of the highest-rated shows on cable, and despite the nature of his program, he’s not performing a one-man show. His staff is no doubt large, meticulous and sensitive, like this newspaper, not to publish inaccurate information. I have no choice but to attribute our unfortunate liberal label as nothing but regrettable political doctoring. It seems his show’s slogan, “The No Spin Zone,” intellectually extends no further than its copyright.
Jeff Planchard is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.