Ad Hominem Academic

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A professor calls Republicans “fascists” on his personal website but with his university linked to it, he opens up questions of whether academic liberty is at stake or pedagogical license has gone haywire.

When sociology professor Robert J. Torres read a College Republican handbook on appealing to Hispanic voters, he became so incensed that he made the pamphlet the subject of one of his regular web blogs. In doing so, he enraged nearly every Republican and voter of independent mindset who came in contact with his critique, including those at St. Lawrence University itself. Interestingly enough, St. Lawrence University in Canton, N. Y., is the alma mater of screen legend Kirk Douglas, father of Michael.

“Racists have always been good at painting those who are unlike them as childlike and incapable of rationality,” Torres wrote. “It comes as little surprise to me that republicans would be doing this as a matter of national policy.”

Torres’ characterization appeared as a blog on his personal web site. The school, which mostly defends him, posted a link to that blog on St. Lawrence University’s official site. Moreover, the characterization of the CR pamphlet itself that is cited above, came after a frequently obscene rendering of the handbook’s substance that completely missed the point of the college GOP advisory.

Written by Manny Espinoza, Mi Partido Tambien—My Party Too, states that “Democrats have been and are still better at politics than Republicans.”

“Why is that? Simple, humans are emotionally driven. The Democrats figured this out back in the days of FDR.”

“Yes, the GOP is right on almost all issues, but the way we present them doesn’t motivate people to flock to our party. Democrats are exciting and talk about how they want to ‘fight for YOU’ and how much they ‘care about YOU.’ This is what people want to hear. The Democrats are selling their product well.”

I go to some length to quote the document in context precisely because Torres did not. As well, I italicize the nouns in dispute.

Espinoza does go on to write, as Torres quotes, “the Hispanic community is very emotionally driven. We have for a long time tried to sell our party using only statistics and facts. That’s all well and good except for the fact that people don’t really want to hear it, especially Hispanics and other minorities.”

Espinoza, the first vice chairman of the College Republican National Committee, presents his pitch in the form of an ad campaign yet draws on his own background to make some thought-provoking observations. For one thing, he takes the GOP to task for the manner in which it has approached the Hispanic voters.

“Many times Republicans feel that outreach is a candidate saying a few words in Spanish or trying to register droves of Hispanic voters. This is not the case. Minority outreach is not spending an hour walking in a Hispanic or minority precinct. First we have to keep in mind that reaching out to minorities means becoming part of their community and having them become part of ours. We need to understand them.”

“Growing up with my family roots strongly tied to the small border town of Nogales, Arizona, it has always puzzled me why Hispanics would consistently label themselves as Democrat and vote Democrat,” Espinoza writes.

“Being part of the Hispanic culture has instilled in me conservative values on a variety of issues. The incredible part is that most Hispanics share the same set of values that I do.”

“For many Latinos the biggest concern is their children’s generation,” Espinoza writes. “Make sure that you let the people who you talk to know that the issues that are important to the Latino/Minority Community are the same issues that are important to the Republican Party,” he advises. For example, Espinoza points out that studies show that nearly two-thirds of Hispanics take the pro-life position on abortion.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.