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The Anti-Patriots of Muhlenberg College By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 22, 2004

Sleepy Muhlenberg College leapt to national prominence when the Allentown, Pennsylvania, university became only the fourth college in the nation to pass a resolution condemning the Patriot Act. On January 23, 2004, the faculty senate passed the measure without dissent, by a vote of 100-0. The two-page resolution paints an Orwellian picture of the controversial homeland security act, alleging, among other things, that the bill allows campus police to “search rooms and offices without notification to the suspects or college administration.”

The only trouble is, the Patriot Act grants no such authorization. In fact, the resolution makes numerous spurious claims about the Patriot Act – all of which went unchecked by the faculty senate before that august body set its imprimatur to the motion. However, their knee-jerk anti-American reaction should come as no surprise, given the abundant left-wing activism sponsored by this Lutheran church (ELCA)-affiliated college. From urging students to attend violent protests at a U.S. military base to hosting a lesbian who defiles the Stars and Stripes as part of her on-stage “performance,” Muhlenberg has become a model of the unpatriotic university.


Ignorance is Leftist Bliss


The college’s headline-grabbing anti-Patriot Act resolution is an erroneous collection of leftist myths. Although the Patriot Act actually gives anti-terrorism officials the right to use investigative methods already permissible for other crimes, the facts cannot begin to compete with the Left’s fevered imagination. The resolution adopted by Muhlenberg College’s faculty senate claims that under the Patriot Act, “law enforcement agents may employ video surveillance to track and record an individual’s activities on campus without judicial authorization.” In fact, agents must still petition for and receive a court order before undertaking any kind of surveillance. To receive this order, they must establish probable cause that the target is a terrorist group or a foreign power, and must have exhausted all “normal investigative procedures.” The facts flatly contradict this charge.


The resolution goes on: “Colleges and universities may sanction students or faculty for written or spoken commentary. The government or academic institution may institute policies that prohibit the research and writing about certain topics in the interests of national security.”


The Patriot Act in no way suspends First Amendment rights, as the faculty senate’s own fatuous “commentary” proves. The only section of the bill that could possibly be construed as dealing with “free speech” is the amendment prohibiting material support for terrorism. While this has long been illegal, the Patriot Act defined a previously gray area of the law: intellectual support for terrorism is as much “material support” as providing money or munitions. As the Justice Department explains, this entails, “for example, advice provided by a civil engineer on destroying a building, or advice by a biochemist on making a biological agent more lethal.” Is this the encroachment on freedom Muhlenberg’s academic elite seek to overturn?


Muhlenberg’s resolution further screams the Patriot Act “may violate the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution through the expansion of the government’s ability to wiretap telephones, monitor e-mail communications…(and) enter homes or offices…without showing probable cause.” As mentioned above, the probable cause assertion is specious. Moreover, the Second, Fifth and Ninth Circuit federal courts have ruled that the wiretapping procedures allowed by the Patriot Act do not violate the Fourth Amendment.


Muhlenberg President Randy Helm said he was “proud” of the senate for passing this resolution. When asked if he would comply with the resolution’s call to defy the Patriot Act – for instance, would he refuse to cooperate with an FBI terrorist investigation – Helms at first hedged his bets, claiming, “We as a faculty would have very little opportunity to confront the law.” However, in another context he stated he would defy the government. “If I think that it (Patriot Act) violates constitutional rights, I would not go along with it,” he said, hoping to weasel out by quickly adding, “but I'd want a lot of advice before I made that decision.”


Mark Corallo, Director of Public Affairs for the Justice Department, responded in The (Allentown, PA) Morning Call, “This would be laughable if it wasn't so scary. This is dangerous because if people believe this (resolution), it may cause them not to cooperate with authorities in a lawful and vital investigation, and that could lead people to lose lives.” He added the professors at Muhlenberg are “just living in a fantasy world if they’re promoting something so grossly wrong.”


Damage Control Begins


Once the Fox News Channel mentioned the resolution on Special Report with Brit Hume, the backlash began in earnest. In a desperate attempt at spin control, the Dean of the College for Faculty, Dr. Marjorie Hass, suggested hosting a “teach-in” and encouraged her disgraced Muhlenberg profs to “refuse to give in to unreasonable criticism.” Lisa Perfetti, Acting Program Director for the Center for Ethics, quickly scheduled a public form on the Patriot Act – “not (to) defend the resolution,” she insisted, “but to educate (the community) on the Patriot Act.” Although the forum was scheduled for March 1, as of February 24, Perfetti had invited only two speakers: Malia Brink of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Gerry Turkel of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) – both groups that oppose the Patriot Act. Perfetti mentioned off-handedly that she hoped to invite one more speaker, someone “more supportive of the Patriot Act.”


This is balanced debate on the leftist campus: two left-wing panelists and 100 angry professors opposed to the Patriot Act, egged on by their beaming president, against one lone patriot with four days preparation for the debate (e.g., “The Dick Cavett Show technique”). Unfortunately for Muhlenberg, they ultimately invited former Justice Department official Barbara Comstock, who was more than equal to the challenge. But no one should have to fight on this tilted a playing field.


Dr. Anna Adams, Perpetual Useful Idiot


Muhlenberg College’s Patriot Act debacle is more easily understood when one investigates the resolution’s sponsor, History professor Anna Adams. Adams, who admits never having read the Patriot Act, has acknowledged she was merely acting as a water-carrier for the Left. Dr. Adams told the college’s official newspaper, The Muhlenberg Weekly, that the leftist Bill of Rights Defense Commitee contacted her, asking her to introduce an anti-Patriot Act amendment. The BRDC exists for the sole purpose of getting governments to pass similar resolutions. As of this writing, four states and 285 cities and counties have followed suit, although only three other colleges have picked up this banner: Stanford University, California State University and Appalachian State University. The BRDC website links to the far-left National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, People for the American Way and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, which has coordinated campus antiwar rallies with the Young Communist League.


After Adams began to get negative feedback for offering the fib-filled resolution, she claims her comrades called to tell her, “You should know that you are considered a hero in the ACLU offices in Washington.”


Dr. Adams’ connections to leftist organizations go beyond the ACLU. She signed International ANSWER’s outlandish Statement Supporting Cuba Against Bush’s Attacks.” International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is a front group for the Workers World Party, which has ties to North Korean Communists and Slobodan Milosevic. This blatant piece of pro-Communist propaganda took Fidel Castro’s claim that the Bush administration was trying to topple him at face value – and sided with Castro. Among the gems found in it:


Over the past 43 years Cuba has suffered the loss of 3,478 of its citizens from numerous acts of terrorism, invasions, assassinations, assassination attempts, biological warfare and blockade. The government of one country has perpetrated these illegal acts against Cuba: the government of the United States.


The trial of the 75 Cuban individuals arrested in March (2003) uncovered the directing role of the U.S. Interests Section in guiding, financing, and organizing subversive actions against the Cuban government.” This reference is to Fidel Castro’s brutal repression of dissidents, including many supporters of the Varela Project, which seeks a national referendum to recognize freedom of speech and the press – a motion allowed by the Cuban constitution. These dissenters, like thousands before them, received show trials and were sent off to the gulags. And the credulous Dr. Adams signed a petition urging Castro to throw away the key.


The statement further alleges Bush wants to topple Castro and install “ a puppet regime,” and calls Castro’s barbaric longevity “a testament to the popular support of the Cuban government.” The Marxist rant closes by insisting Bush end the economic embargo against Cuba and free the Cuban Five “for trying to stop Miami-based terrorism against their people.” (According to the Associated Press, the Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 for “trying to infiltrate U.S. military bases and Cuban exile groups in South Florida.”)


Adams has a soft spot for Iraqi madmen, as well. She, along with 50 other Muhlenberg faculty members (including Lisa Perfetti), signed an article in The Muhlenberg Advocate (the campus “alternative” newspaper) entitled, “Would You Fight, Kill and Die to Overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq?” In this open letter to their own students, Adams and company state flatly, “President Bush is using the death, tragedy, and sorrow of September 11, 2001, as a pretext for invading Iraq.” The war on Iraq “constitutes a clear violation of international law.” In the event of our “occupation,” Muhlenberg’s leftist Cassandras warn, “The likelihood of future terrorist attacks here will increase sharply.” Moreover, “many, many Iraqi civilians will die as a result of the U.S. military’s use of ‘overwhelming force’ – primarily aerial bombing from such an altitude that it is impossible to hit only military or strategic targets.”


Adams did not let the issue go. Writing in the official school paper The Muhlenberg Weekly, just a week after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Adams relates that while traveling abroad, “I felt ashamed to be an American. Does this make me unpatriotic?” She went on to remove all doubt, telling her trusting students:


“In order to protect its economic interests, the U.S. has often used the concepts of democracy and freedom as justification for foreign interventions that undermined freedom and democracy…Communism is dead, but the U.S. has found a new enemy to justify its military buildup and desire to control the world's resources.”


Adams’ screed was made to look sensible only in contrast to another essay that appeared the same day, written by Dr. Giacomo Gambino, Associate Professor of Political Science. (What else?) Gambino asserted this war, waged “to preserve U.S. military hegemony in the world,” will “confirm the President’s messianic ambitions” and “generate resentment” by making U.S. GIs “an occupying army.” Gambino then scribbled the ultimate in moral equivalency:Last week's opening salvos on Baghdad have now revealed the twin specters of our new age – terrorism and the crusade to eradicate it at any cost.Gambino and Adams clearly drink from the same poisoned wells.


Dr. Anna Adams also confesses bringing her anti-American bias into the classroom. In her course “Human Rights and the Americas,” which she team teaches with Dr. Joan Marx, Adams “‘concentrates on countries that are notorious human rights abusers, such as Chile (and) Guatemala...,’ said Adams. Additionally, some focus will be given to the United States' role in violations of human rights in the Americas.” Apparently, Adams could not find “abusers” in Cuba, Nicaragua or Grenada, just beleaguered pro-American nations locked in a mortal struggle with Marxism. And in Adams’ world, all these outrages ultimately redound to the Great Satan, the United States of America.


Speaking Nonsense to Power


Judging from its official campus speakers, it would appear Muhlenberg College feels the same way. The left-wing bias at Muhlenberg is far from contained to faculty senate meetings or the college newspaper’s op-ed page. Nearly every single speaker invited to campus has shared a radical leftist political philosophy.


Most major speakers are invited to campus by the Center for Ethics, currently headed by Lisa Perfetti. On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Center held a nine-day conference calling patriotism into question. (This was later extended with a speech in October.) Entitled “The Boundaries of Home: Patriotism in a Global Era,” the series’ literature asks, “What is the relationship between patriotism and war? Is patriotism in conflict with a more universal humanism?…Is reflective patriotism possible?”


As part of this, Muhlenberg convened a “Forum on the American Flag” in September 2002. The participants skewed decidedly in favor of flag desecration. Panelists included “performance artist Holly Hughes and representatives from the ACLU, the Quaker church, citizen's organizations, and government.” Hughes is one of four National Endowment of the Arts grantees to lose funding because of the offensive nature of her stage act.


Not content to let the already-lopsided forum speak for itself, Muhlenberg gave Holly Hughes her own forum on the flag the next day. Held on September 20, 2002, Holly’s speech was called “Preaching to the Perverted.” One eyewitness to her “Perverted” performance at another college described it thus:


“At one point, after casting dozens of miniature American flags all over the floor, she exhibited a flag styled after the American stars-and-stripes, but decorated with the rainbow colors of the gay-pride movement, and rubbed it between her legs, as if drying her groin with a towel. Towards the end of her performance, she again launched a tirade against the flag, and stated definitively, for herself and other homosexuals, in front of the largely gay audience of Queer Studies scholars, ‘That is not our flag.’” 


Hughes’ university-sanctioned hostility to Old Glory recalled that of neighboring Lehigh University, which banned the American flag from campus following 9/11. Lehigh Vice Provost John Smearton said he ordered the flag removed “so non-American students would not feel uncomfortable.” Lehigh exercised no such consideration when it displayed an “art” project that portrayed President George W. Bush as a drunkard fondling a hooker’s breast and depicted National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice as a prostitute.


Muhlenberg continued its exploration of patriotism with a forum on sweatshops (a vital part of patriotism).


Then on October 28, 2002, Muhlenberg College invited American Indian radical John Trudell to speak. Trudell became the first National Field Director of the ultra-leftist American Indian Movement (AIM) during the time of its greatest militancy. During his tenure, AIM officials provoked a number of skirmishes with the law, including the 71-day seizure of Wounded Knee in 1973, which landed 1,200 people in prison and left two marshals wounded. (Trudell argued AIM should have taken its armed stance in Washington, D.C., instead of the heartland. AIM militants had briefly occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in 1972.) Trudell made his name during the earlier AIM occupation of Alcatraz and presided over AIM during Leonard Peltier’s murderous rampage at the Jumping Bull compound on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. (Peltier, the Mumia Abu-Jamal of his day, murdered two FBI agents in 1975.)


Since leaving full-time activism, Trudell has channeled his hatred of America into “spoken word” recordings (like his latest smash about Elvis Presley, “Baby Boomer Che”). Muhlenbeg felt its students should be exhorted by Trudell’s “patriotic” ramblings, such as his reference to the American government as “cannibals.” Trudell recently said of the United States, “it has a form, government, nationhood, or whatever it calls itself, but in the end, it's a bunch of cannibals.” Trudell was invited back for an encore “concert” on February 19, 2004.


In November 2002, the Center for Ethics continued the leftist indoctrination, inviting “The Guerrilla Girls” to campus as part of its “Art, Artists and Responsibility” series. The Guerrilla Girls (who apparently wear gorilla costumes on stage) create leftist/feminist posters, including “George Bush’s Letter to Santa.” In the letter, scribbled in a child’s hand, the Commander-in-Chief asks for “A big flag with lots of stars” (evidently this is a howler to Hate America types) and “All the oil in the world.” He also writes to Santa, “Saddam and Osama were not nice. Can you make them go away?”


Jennifer Harbury echoed Anna Adams’ hatred of America’s anti-communist Central American policy in her speech, “The CIA, Torture, and September 11th: Learning the Lessons of Latin America.” The speech was held on February 23, 2004, as part of Muhlenberg’s “Spring Series on Human Rights” (which began in the dead of winter). Perfetti said the series was inspired by Adams’ aforementioned “Human Rights and the Americas” course.


Harbury’s husband, Efrain Bamaca, was a Guatemalan Communist guerrilla leader glorified by New York Times. Harbury asked for the right to sue Clinton administration officials over her husband’s death at the hands of Guatemalan government officials; in 2002, the Supreme Court denied the petition in a rare unanimous decision. Like John Trudell, Harbury wants to free Leonard Peltier. The Muhlenberg Weekly described her speech:


According to Harbury, during both of these recent confrontations, the U.S. government has permitted and in many cases, ordered these human rights violations under the justification of intelligence gathering. Harbury went on to describe these actions as a ‘knowing partnership between the United States and unsavory militants.’… She went on to explain that these actions and their perpetrators' lack of punishment partially explains the animosity many people feel towards Americans around the world.”


In case Muhlenberg students missed the point, Lisa Perfetti invited Margaret “Peggy” Healy to campus one month later. Healy is a Fordham Law School professor who opposed the Reagan administration’s anti-Communist policy in El Salvador in the 1980s. In 1982, Healy appeared in the film “Americas in Transition,” narrated by Democratic Socialists of America member Edward Asner. According to Muhlenberg literature, “Ms. Healy was a strong spokesperson against the brutal repression of the people of El Salvador and the role played by the United States in assisting the right-wing regime.


Under Perfetti, the Center for Ethics has managed to transform putatively “scientific” discussions into panegyrics for Latin American Communists. Its “Sustainable Communities” series invited Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, to speak on March 29, 2004. His speech, “An Excursion through Cuba: A Clue to Our Future?” suggests starving Cuba might have something to teach the agricultural power of the world. Synder explored “the rise of sustainable agricultural techniques in Cuba, much of which can be attributed to the long-standing United States trade embargo against Cuba.”


Still other speakers have blamed God Himself for the world’s ecological problems. Dr. William Jennings, a former Muhlenberg Religion professor, spoke on February 3, 2004, about “Sustainability and New Ideas about God.” During his speech, he blamed Christianity for the world’s environmental problems and suggested Christians change their view of God in response. For ultra-liberals, the only thing better than blaming America is blaming God Himself.


To its (slim) credit, Muhlenberg invited Kanan Makiya, author or The Republic of Fear, to speak in February 2004. The book discussed Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The college also had Dimon Liu discuss China’s human rights abuses. The college also had (exactly) one service honoring veterans, in 2002. This hardly seems to compensate for the college’s overwhelming bias against its own country.


A Jail Cell is a Terrible Thing to Waste


Like any college, Muhlenberg does not aim to simply inform its students; it hopes they will apply their “knowledge” to become “agents for change.” To this end, Muhlenberg College has consistently pushed its student body to get involved in leftist activism, sanctioning their participation in acts of sabotage that ended in mass arrests.


On November 10, 2003, Muhlenberg College – along with Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College – sponsored a School of the Americas Watch “Non-violence Training session” at Harverford College. This session featured “(p)reparations, logistics & scenario” for their protest at Ft. Benning, GA, later that month. Ft. Benning is the home of the School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which has trained Central and South American anti-Communist leaders. Its detractors assert it is a school of torture. Some 45 people were arrested for climbing the fence at Ft. Benning in their efforts to sabotage the military during wartime. Those arrested included 63-year-old former Iraqi human shield Faith Fippinger and Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness. Kelly visits “political prisoners” held by the United States…in Iraq. She has spoken at numerous campuses, often with radical Islamists. She also supported the Nicaraguan Sandanistas. Ubiquitous ultra-leftist Medea Benjamin was also prominent in attendance. Benjamin organized the violent protests at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. In the summer of 2003, Benjamin and longtime Communist Party member Leslie Cagan founded the International Occupation Watch in Baghdad with the express purpose of undermining Operation Iraqi Freedom by convincing American servicemen to declare themselves conscientious objectors and get themselves sent home. These are the people Muhlenberg and her sister colleges believe students should rub shoulders with: saboteurs who hope for America’s military defeat to the extent that they’re willing to act as “human shields.” Muhlenberg’s parents may be forgiven if they believe these are inappropriate role models.


More recently, the school set aside April 15, 2004, as “Letter Writing Day for Amnesty International.” Of course, Amnesty International has opposed the U.S. War on Terror every step of the way. The leftist organization even condemned the United States’ impeccable conduct during the Iraqi war, while ignoring Iraq’s simultaneous war crimes. In keeping with what may be its lone educational theme, students will learn that America is evil and they should protest against it. At least this time no one end up in prison. That’s faint praise indeed.


Learning Their Lesson


It appears the lesson has taken, at least among some students. In February 2003, a student writing in the Muhlenberg Advocate suggested a novel solution to North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear threat: George W. Bush should apologize for calling the archaic Stalinist regime “evil.” The writer insisted, “Had we continued holding up our end of the bargain, the only conflict in North Korea today would have been what color jumpsuit Kim Jong Il wears on Tuesdays” and suggested Bush strike “a new fair agreement” to pay off the murderous Communists. Another student, half-exhonerating “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh in The Muhlenberg Weekly, wrote, “The only way to fight terrorism is to reduce it, first by removing U.S. military presence from hostile nations and secondly by educating masses of people ignorant or misinformed about the United States.” This is the Medea Benjamin peace plan. Dr. Adams, Lisa Perfetti and others should be happy their indoctrination has succeeded so thoroughly.


Those parents who sent their children off to receive a well-rounded education at a putatively religion university should not be please one whit. One such parent revealed the solution to Muhlenberg’s endless, hostile activism in a letter to the Muhlenberg Weekly. Commenting on the Fox New Channel’s coverage of the Patriot Act resolution, he understood the professors’ misinformed politics thus: “I can only assume that our Muhlenberg faculty has been so busy doing their jobs, that they are only just now learning about this Act. I compliment them on their dedication to their duty. Now, I ask them to return to that duty, and stop being so foolish.”


The only hope for Muhlenberg, or any other university, is to return to education, rather than indoctrination. Education exposes students to a variety of viewpoints and allows them to draw their own conclusions. And at Muhlenberg College, this process must begin by suggesting to its students that the most free, prosperous and generous nation in the history of the world is something other than a moral leper. 

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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