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  • Swarthmore 3The following comments were left in response to an op-ed published in the Daily Gazette denouncing Young America’s Foundation flyers. I wrote a blog post about the controversy here.

    To bring you up to speed, some students of ours put up our Freedom Week flyers, which were torn down shortly thereafter and replaced with mock-flyers.

    Unsurprisingly, this controversy has revealed that the majority of students at Swarthmore are not very tolerant of other ideas. Also notice how some of them hide behind a fake username. I will mention that some students were opposed to ripping down flyers, but they still seemed openly opposed to what Young America’s Foundation stands for:

    User “Bob Dole” – “Traditional values. That means queer people are evil, or something like that, right?”

    See how well other students understand what the Conservative Movement is and stands for? Again, this is why our organization exists: these myths propped up by the Left have a stranglehold on college communities.

    James Mao, Author of Original Op-Ed – “As people have pointed out, [the conservative students] had plenty of options to choose from. The fact they chose this bigoted organization [YAF] as their affiliation of choice speaks volumes.”

    Calling a Conservative person or group “bigoted” is so unoriginal I don’t even have a response to it. Hey James, this “bigoted” organization’s PR director (yours truly) is Jewish. In our humble opinion, dividing people into groups based on race, class or sexual orientation incessantly as the Left so often does is bigoted. Next comment.

    User “Sarah Palin” – “I know who took my flyers down. It’s amazing what I can see from my house…”

    Again, mocking Sarah Palin is nothing original. Using her now infamous 2008 quote is depressingly unoriginal.

    User “OhWow” – “They [YAF] got this ish [issue] (with full editorial name disclosure, TASTEFUL!) on the national website. “

    I’d like to respond to that. First, if you attack our students, we will call you out for it. Second, the students who submitted the articles put their names on them. I linked to the article with those names, so me writing them really makes no difference – it was completely ethical. My name is on these blog posts. Yours, however, remains unknown. (Please refer to our National Journalism Center program for more information on journalistic ethics.) Further, the students who wrote the op-ed targeted a select few conservative students and defended other students who mocked them. Since that’s fair game apparently, my blog post was fair game, too.

    User “Get out of the kitchen” – “Attacking others views with those insulting posters was throwing the first stone.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, now if you post a flyer up that mocks communism, you’re attacking other peoples’ views. Very interesting and revealing.

    Dougal Sutherland, Editor – “… if we do end up writing an actual news article involving SYAF [now named Swarthmore Conservatives], it will make all reasonable efforts to get comments from people on all sides of the issues.”

    I look forward to that. You know where to reach me.

    User “sense and sensibility” - “This group … encourages students to celebrate the birthday of Ronald Reagan annually.”

    Well, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but his one hundredth birthday is coming up soon…

    … And here are responses directed at the conservative club president and the blog post YAF put up in response:

    User “Wanting more of an apology” – “Their unfounded attacks on Swarthmore and its students are now spreading across the conservative blogosphere thanks to their misleading blog entry… I wonder who their informant was?”

    My “informant” was Google Alerts, and my blog post set the record straight. And the reason it’s “spreading” is because of the op-ed that was published, not a humble blog post. If you don’t want national attention, don’t treat conservative students differently than anyone else. Simple as that. The comment continues:

    “So you’re gonna take YAF’s resources… and claim you’re independent? Really?”

    So an organization cannot use YAF materials and claim to be independent? Student groups across the country, despite their official affiliation, use our materials.

    User “Adriana Massi, 2010” - “I’m going to have to agree with Wanting in running to the national organization – or maybe you’d like to defend the quality of that article?”

    Again, no one did any “running” to the organization. If you accuse YAF of being funded by “corporate interests,” or label our organization as bigoted, I’m going to post a response. That’s the pesky “First Amendment” thing you guys in the comment stream seem to have trouble grasping.

    The controversy is seemingly resolved now that the conservative students have removed “Young America’s Foundation” from their chapter name. This controversy, thanks in large part to the op-eds and comment streams publicly available, is very revealing and useful however. You now know what conservative students are up against. Dozens of students after reading the op-ed were quick to judge not only our organization, but a handful of students who were brave enough to identify themselves as conservatives.


    • Readers' Comments

    • Oops, way to respond to literally 1/30th of my comments, bro. I also did not accuse you of being funded by corporate interests {although I wouldn't be shocked}, so you're twisting what I said. I DO think it's ridiculous that you're upset there's a dialogue around what-was-once-SYAF which is mostly negative. Let me repeat this for the folks at home: The most visible people who attend wwoSYAF and started it are incapable of engaging in honest, intellectual discussion. I personally attempted to engage in a legitimate dialogue with them and was met with false facts, misreadings of what I said that were so ridiculous I was left assuming they were deliberate or my conversational partner had the reading capabilities of a three year old {that is to say, none} and hyperboles such as, "Thomas Jefferson would be rolling in his grave!" They have consistently presented themselves as martyrs, victims and innocents, when the only attempts to generate conversation they make are incendiary and LOUD. This is not about a disagreement with conservative talking points: it's a disagreement about HOW to talk about those talking points. Also, you really didn't address how poorly informed your article on the subject was. A title such as "Freedom Mocked at Swarthmore" implies Swarthmore The Institution belittled these students' freedoms, which is not at all the case. Furthermore, very few individuals were calling for vandalism, which just makes your entire point shoddy. PS: If you'd like to tell me how a policy that doesn't keep queers as second-class citizens isn't homophobic, I'm all ears. You seemed to object to Bob Dole's assessment of traditional values, which I've lived out personally as true.
      Posted by Adriana Massi on 11/18/2010
    • The first amendment may protect your right to write as you please, but that doesn't protect your image. Just a note, having read through the comics, it's amusing how words and opinions are twisted and responded to in a way that glorifies what you believe while dismissing claims without giving them proper credit.
      Posted by Vibozy on 11/18/2010
    • I know it looks a little slipshod to do a quick double post, but I thought it'd be a good time to make the obvious more obvious: You are claiming the First Amendment covers your ability to blog about this in a non-neutral way. Yup. I agree with you. So how is the "freedom" that was "mocked" at Swat less covered by that Amendment or generating so much anger from you, when you engage in the same behavior? Furthermore, your institution is bigoted if it's calling for an end to identity politics: you don't get to decide someone's racial, ethnic, sexual, gender or religious identity.
      Posted by Adriana Massi on 11/18/2010
    • I take issue with the fact that you say that "the majority of students at Swarthmore are not very tolerant of other ideas." This is an absolute distortion of the way things are at swarthmore. Although a select few (some of whom have posted responses on this site) are extreme and give a bad name to Swarthmore, the vast majority of us do not believe that such parodies are acceptable and do not believe that the vandalism is acceptable. I am a devoted democrat and a personal friend of both members of the Swarthmore Conservatives, but I believe that we need to have a reasonable and civil dialogue. Please don't paint swarthmore in such black and white terms. If you want to criticize the polarizing members, please feel free. But leave those of us who want an intelligent and civil debate out of it.
      Posted by Jacob Adenbaum on 11/19/2010
    • The Phoenix/Digest contrast is far more pronounced than a non-Swarthmore outsider might expect. The Phoenix is Swarthmore’s respected print newspaper. It employs both conservative and liberal columnists and is committed to strong journalistic ethics. The Phoenix did an article about the posters, which can be read at In the article, they interview the president of SYAF, the president of Swarthmore Democrats, and several students with reactions to the posters. It’s a well-researched fair article that doesn’t make ridiculous personal attacks like “all conservatives are racists”. The Digest is Swarthmore’s web-only newsletter. It’s often used as a shouting block for the more liberal groups on campus and tends to play a little fast and loose with journalistic ethics. The result is described above: lots of outrage, but not a lot of actual reporting. I know that from the article and some of the anonymous comments, it looks like Swarthmore is some kind of socialist training ground where dissenting voices are silenced Big-Brother style. However, I am a current conservative student, and none of my friends (not even the most Democratic of them) have ever made the kind of personal attacks on my integrity that the editorial makes. Dean Braun, as well as the vast majority of students, remains committed to ensuring that Swarthmore remains a diverse place where all ideas are respected and conservative students are welcome to debate politics, receive a quality education, and enjoy college life. This article is merely the example of a few bitter liberal students finding a megaphone to make baseless attacks on conservatives.
      Posted by Current Swarthmore Conservative Student on 11/21/2010
    • Classes like "Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism," "Peace Study in Action," and "Renaissance Sexualities" in addition to this recent controversy tell a tale of a school that just isn't open to conservative ideas. The knee-jerk response that YAF is bigoted, exclusive, et infinitum is uninspiring when it comes to the notion that "ideas are respected." I applaud(ed) Dean Braun, and her response to the vandalism is the silver lining in this entire tale.
      Posted by Evan on 11/22/2010
    • They don’t have a theoretical farwemork to explain why this might be the case but, if it’s true, this would, perhaps, begin to make sense of resistance from people who one might otherwise have expected to be persuaded by evolutionary explanations for human behavior, including some of our friends in evolutionary biology.My take? The main group that is resistant evopsych-type findings are the middle class and intelligentsia. The lower classes seem entirely willing to accept the findings of evopysch and adaptationist type findings in general. To take an example from my own life coming from a relatively rural setting. My sister has a child who likes to pose for the camera. She is the type of girl who likes taking photos of herself and the father of the child is the same way. My mother will, without a moment's pause, explain the child's behavior by saying that [the child] got it from both sides and this will elicit head-nods of agreement from the other family members. While my mother is of above average intelligence and a voracious reader (I am indebted to her for my high verbal scores on standardized tests), she did not achieve a high level of formal education education. This sort of explanation of behavior by an implicit reference to genetics would never be remotely acceptable at a dinner party in the college town where I live. They'd object that the child was socialized by the parents to display the behavior. Reference to genes would be laughed at. Whereas, it was common place for me to hear older folks explain a young person's wild behavior by referencing how wild the father or mother was at a younger age. I've done some very unscientific convenience polling of the people I work with and their experience is similar.I have not had much personal exposure to how the elites think about behavior like I have with the lower middle to low classes that I grew up with, so someone with more experience would need to chime in for me to feel comfortable with making a claim about them. Reading about how the elites operated throughout history makes me somewhat comfortable in saying they tend to be more like the lower classes in their acceptance of adaptationist type findings, but not enough to make any firm claims.I also do not have enough understanding of how middle classes have thought about such things throughout history to tease out whether this phenomena is explained by some sort of common cognitive trait of those who are of the intellectual middle class or whether it's due to the modern intellectual climate which focuses on socialization to the detriment of biological factors.
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