Editorial: Coulter visit may be a good thing if executed correctly

January 14, 2005

NRA president Charlton Hestons 1999 visit to Brandeis was, despite the best efforts of event organizer Bryan Rudnick, a high point in Brandeis political life. While the potential for controversy was high (and heightened by constant liberal-baiting and Brandeis-bashing by Rudnick and other organizers), the speech and opposing rally both remained dignified and calm, and the visit by the star of such movies as Planet of the Apes and The Ten Commandments resulted in much thoughtful discussion and sharing of views.

We have no doubt that a visit by Ann Coulter, the noted conservative columnist who responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks by writing that, we should invade [Arab] countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity, could be an equally valuable learning experience for the Brandeis community.

But in bringing Coulter to campus and in footing some substantial portion of the estimated $28,000 price tag, plus security costs we must caution Brandeis student leaders and event organizers to avoid the mistakes made when Heston visited five years ago. Organizers for that event turned away several hundred students so that event sponsors and members of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans could get premium seating. Organizers, including Rudnick, also published numerous press releases, bordering on libelous, accusing the University of attempting to subvert the event by demanding strict security precautions and then an additional press release after the event claiming that security was inadequate.

We do not mean to compare the leadership of the Brandeis Republicans to the 1999 leadership of Freedom Magazine. But we do wish to point out that, with any high profile speaker, all efforts must be made to ensure that all students have the maximum opportunity to participate in the event. Coulter will likely pose even more of a challenge then Heston. We wish the Brandeis Republicans well in their quest to bring her to campus and we hope that they do their utmost to work with the Student Union, Public Safety, and the Division of Student Life to ensure that her visit, if it occurs, is the best that it can be for everyone involved.

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