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A Real American Hero By: Jennifer Kabbany
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 05, 2001

OUBAI SHAHBANDAR IS A REAL AMERICAN HERO. The premed junior at Arizona State University takes the mud and eggs thrown at his face and turns them into an omelet.

Shahbandar is at the center of a controversy at Arizona State University (ASU) for, among many things: demanding that the American flag taken down from a campus cafeteria be returned; inviting David Horowitz to speak at ASU during the height of the reparations ad controversy; and creating a "Socialist Professor of the Month" feature on the ASU College Republicans web site.

But Shahbandar is not your typical staunch defender of the American Way. His parents were both born in Syria and moved to the United States when he was 8yearsold, in 1988. Since then, Shahbandar has come to love and appreciate what America has to offer, in his words, "freedom, opportunity, equality."

In his fight to squash the leftist powers that be at ASU, he has faced many hurdles, culminating this week by an attempt to impeach him from his position as a student senator.

The whole sordid affair began last spring, according to a timeline created by ASU’s student newspaper the State Press, when Shahbandar had the audacity to invite David Horowitz to speak on campus. "Oubai Wan Kenoubai may have brought Horowitz to ASU because he agreed with the activist’s views," taunts the State Press in a scathing editorial against Shahbandar, "but he made sure he alerted all the local media."

Next in the timeline comes the summer 2001 entry, in which Shahbandar "begins posting a controversial ‘Socialist Professor of the Month’ feature on the ASU College Republicans web site." Highlights from this ingenious initiative, which aims to "fight efforts to brainwash and indoctrinate people," include professor Jose Menendez, who publicly demanded that an ASU student be expelled because she was a College Republican who posted fliers in his 400seat lecture hall announcing Horowitz’s speaking engagement.

Following this controversy comes Shahbandar’s statement that, "Women’s Studies is a joke. It’s a nonacademic department that does nothing but further polarize our community by diluting the importance of traditional family structure... How about those femiNazis that teach Women’s Studies? Those honies just need to find a good man and take it easy on all the malebashing." Shahbandar says he doesn’t regret his statement good for him. (Rush Limbaugh offers the exact sentiment to his 25 million listeners and he’s the highest paid radio personality in history.)

Next come timeline entries about Shahbandar trying to give students their money back by eliminating a $1 fee that goes toward lobbying for leftist ends; and a public spat between Shahbandar and a State Press employee that’s played out in the newspaper’s opinion pages. There is even dissension among the ranks, as the Arizona College Republicans decide to cut ties with Shahbandar’s ASU group due to too much controversy. Shahbandar chalks this up to local disagreements.

But according to Shahbandar, the most explosive controversy came about when he introduced a bill to replace an American flag that had been removed from the campus cafeteria.

A student had posted the large flag after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But officials removed the flag because, according to the State Press, "they knew it was against university policy to hang anything without permission," and for, "concerns for the feelings of international students on campus."

Shahbandar, incensed, wrote and sponsored a student government resolution to hang the flag back up and to condemn the officials who removed it. The vote was 9 in favor, 6 against, and 6 abstaining – and a rule in their bylaws states that abstaining votes are to be added to the nay votes. In effect, Shahbandar’s bill was defeated. "It is outrageous that this open display of antiAmerican extremism is prevalent on our campus in this time of war," Shahbandar told the council.

Later Shahbandar confronted two student government officials who had voted against his resolution. He called student Ryan Adney, who Shahbandar describes as a selfproclaimed socialist who hangs pictures of Karl Marx in the student government offices, a "bloody, antiAmerican leftwing fascist." Because of Shahbandar’s verbal assault, the council brought impeachment charges against him. In the end he was censured by the council.

Still, Shahbandar was able to cause quite a stir over the flag removal. He was interviewed on local radio shows and the story made the rounds on the Internet. ASU received so many complaints, especially from alums who were threatening to veto future contributions, that officials put the flag back up.

And in the end, Shahbandar also still stands. "I love America," he says. "I look around everyday, and I see the luxuries afforded by capitalism and the American way of life. Life is better here." Although Shahbandar is a Muslim, he believes the terrorists who drove planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are "maniacs, insane."

"They’re jealous of America," says Shahbandar. "And I believe it is that same sentiment that many leftists mirror."

Oubai Shabandar: not just a FrontPage hero, but an American hero, too.

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