Penn State University trustee Galen Foulke, an appointee of Democratic Governor and former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell, recently came under fire from several campus Jewish and conservative groups for comments comparing a speech by President Ronald Reagan addressing a Young American’s for Freedom chapter to Adolf Hitler indoctrinating the Hitler Youth.
“I was comparing Reagan’s rhetoric to Hitler’s,” said Foulke, according to the Thursday, February 9 edition of The Daily Collegian, the campus newspaper.
Following complaints, Foulke issued a faux apology, denying any wrong-doing, but apologizing to groups whom he may have offended. However, Foulke neglected to include the Penn State Young Americans for Freedom chapter among them. He also characterized the entire situation in terms of “typical political games.”
Foulke, who is also student body president, recently cited a conservative majority in the university’s student government when attempting to explain why he wants to restructure the organization.
At the time of this release, no official action has been taken by the University and no members of the Penn State administration have stepped forward to condemn his remarks. Even at a school which prides itself on combating hate speech and promoting tolerance, there exists a blatant double-standard when campus conservatives are the target.
Foulke’s verbal attack on Reagan and Penn State’s Young Americans for Freedom comes as Penn State faces a lawsuit alleging that University speech codes stifle open discourse and free expression.
In addition, a panel of state representatives, led by Republican Gibson Armstrong, is conducting a statewide investigation of academic freedom issues at publicly-funded schools like Penn State.
In his recent book on “the 101 most dangerous academics in America,” noted academic freedom advocate David Horowitz named two Penn State professors to his list.
During the 2004 presidential election, Penn State was mired in controversy after lending institutional support and spending tax and student tuition dollars to inundate campus with pro-Kerry speakers and events, including appearances by Teresa Heinz Kerry and Michael Moore and the Dave Matthews Band “Vote for Change” tour. The University even blatantly and unapologetically disregarded its own policy against funding partisan speakers with the Student Activity Fee to bring DNC Chairman Howard Dean to campus for a pro-Kerry speech a week before the election.
President Bush lost Pennsylvania by less than 150,000 votes in 2004.
Penn State University President Graham Spanier, no stranger to controversy, has carried on a long friendship with former Vice President Al Gore, even meriting a mention in Gore’s book, Joined at the Heart.
Shauna Moser is the chairman of the Penn State Young American’s for Freedom chapter.