Arizona State University’s “political correctness” enforcers may be on the verge of wrecking the life of a conservative student who bucks their orthodoxy. It is further evidence that academia’s enemies of free speech have dropped all pretense at fairness.
The case involves two students at ASU who tried bring balance to the campus lecture program, the “free marketplace of ideas” that campus leftists have used as an excuse for bringing in every Marxist advocate they champion.
Shanna Bowman, vice president of activities for the ASU student government, and her chief of staff, Oubai Shahbandar, have dared to invite some speakers who dissent from the conventional wisdoms of speakers whose appearances have been promoted by Young Democrats, Democratic Socialists, Progressive Alliance, the ASU chapter of ACLU, Minority Coalitions, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered/Questioning Lambda League, Asian Coalition, American Indian Coalition, and El Concillo.
For merely advocating that the lecture program feature someone whose views differ, for example, from Mary Frances Berry, the hardline leftist chairwoman of the so-called U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Bowman and Shahbandar have been subjected to dirty tricks by supporters of the above left-wing organizations.
The “free marketplace of ideas” used to hold allegations to a high standard of evidence. But when the ASU administration invited Berry to speak at the campus, it would have been impolite to ask her to produce hard evidence in support a report by her commission charging that minorities were discriminated against in the disputed presidential balloting in Florida in 2000. In truth, there was no evidence. But because Berry fits in with leftist orthodoxy and “political correctness,” she gets a pass.
Precrime Must Be Punished
First, they tried to have Bowman impeached for possibly accepting future gifts from Young America’s Foundation, including a “free trip to California” to visit the Reagan ranch.
“The impeachment failed,” Bowman explained in an interview with NewsMax.com, “because it was nothing that I had done. It was only allegations of what I may do in the future.”
The effort at a kangaroo court having failed, the left-wing extremists sponsored a campaign to have her recalled. The so-called “Progressive Coalition” paraded signs accusing her of “creating a hostile work environment.”
The leftists' argument, shorn of all the tortured rationale: We can do all the name-calling we want. But when Bowman writes an article in a student newspaper detailing how these “progressives” are actually regressive, that is grounds for calling her a bigot and attempting to drive her out of student government.
Compounding the contradiction is that the campus American Civil Liberties Union, which has advertised itself as advocating unfettered free speech, joined the mob movement to hound this student.
“They [ACLU] like to profess a love for free speech,” Bowman commented to NewsMax, “but when the free speech, at least on the student side, when the free speech doesn’t [fit in] often with leftist ideals,” then it apparently becomes a matter of whose speech is free.
To its credit, she said, there have been times when the state ACLU “has had to come in and demand that their [student] president issue apologies to groups and students that they had been protesting against or going after” when free-speech issues were involved.
There is still no record of such an apology in this case. But then, given that the ACLU on the Arizona campus is “just another branch of the Young Democrats,” says Bowman, what can one expect?
Anti-American P.C. Mania
Oubai Shahbandar, her assistant, appears to be in even deeper career-threatening trouble. His problems began last year when, as a student senator, he introduced a bill condemning the university for taking down American flags one week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
As a reflection of the 1960s counterculture mentality that has again taken over campus life in America, the university said it feared the flags could offend international students and promote “a hostile environment.”
Someone apparently hacked into Shahbandar’s e-mail and sent a threatening message to a student senator who tried to impeach Bowman. Shahbandar says he did not send the message, that someone gained unauthorized access to his e-mail account and sent it. Witnesses have given the police six signed affidavits stating they were with him at the time the e-mail was sent and that he was nowhere near a computer. He was doing a radio interview at the time and had a videotape of the interview itself.
Further, a student who confronted Shahbandar in his office was leaving and stuck his foot in the door to stop it from closing just as Shahbandar was shutting it. That was all it took for the student to call the police and accuse Shahbandar of “assault.”
Destroy a Dissenter's Life
Despite the affidavits and the in-your-face student simply sticking his foot in a closing door, ASU had the police escort Shahbandar off the campus property 30 minutes before he was to take a philosophy midterm exam. He was given an interim suspension and faces expulsion pending the findings of an investigation. Furthermore, he was not allowed to make up the exam, so he was flunked.
That, of course, sets the stage for what the leftist hierarchy on campus apparently would like to do: Kick him out of school and wreck his career path. Shahbandar, a political science and philosophy major, has hopes of possibly going to law school and ultimately pursuing a political career, just the sort of potential future senator or governor the leftist establishment would like to head off at the pass before he even gets to the starting gate.
His scheduled graduation is, or was, a year from now, which means he has completed about three-fourths of his undergraduate studies. NewsMax.com found the young man not in a frame of mind to take the egregious treatment lying down.
“Absolutely,” he told us, “I’m already considering possibilities at the moment,” and if he is expelled, that would include whatever legal action his lawyers advise.
ASU Media Relations spokesman Keith Jennings told NewsMax.com the investigation was being conducted by the ASU Police Department and had not yet been resolved. When asked why Shahbandar had not been allowed to make up his exam, Jennings replied he could not comment, and that it was a separate matter.
Shahbandar said he was to appear today in the office of Dean Deborah Sullivan, presumably to decide his future, if any, with the university. The conservative student said that in a previous meeting, “Sullivan made it clear” that “in her opinion, I was a threat to the campus climate.”
NewsMax.com intends to monitor this case. Shahbandar has said, “As an American Arab, I have never felt as persecuted in a post-9/11 world as I do now at the hands of the leftist university administration.”