By Brendan Pringle
Penn State senior and YAF activist Victor Schleich says he was taken off guard in his film studies class when Professor Matt Jordan’s lesson on “The Birth of a Nation” abruptly shifted focus.
After showing excerpts from the controversial film about the Ku Klux Klan, Professor Jordan ended the class with a montage of news clips criticizing voter ID laws.
Disturbed by the possibility that his professor was trying to equate voter ID laws with the actions of the KKK, Victor complained to him in an email:
On Jan 10, 2013, at 2:59 PM, Victor Schleich wrote:
There was something at the end of class today that greatly concerned me. Towards the end of class we were going over the film THE BIRTH OF A NATION. The final shot we saw was a scene where a number of the KKK members were scaring black men back into their homes signifying voter suppression. I had no problem displaying that scene with the proper context that it was incredibly racist and that the content was unacceptable. However, as class was ending there was footage on the screen of news coverage concerning the issue of voter ID laws and commentary suggesting that these laws were new minority voter suppression. John Stewart even made references that these were the new horsemen of intimidation when it came to minorities voting. Now, in the context of the film we had discussed I can’t help but see this display as an attempt to equate a voter ID law to actions taken by the KKK. If this was the intention of that footage then this is is incredibly offensive. However, I hope this is simply a misunderstanding.
Rather than acknowledge the Schleich’s concern about the offensive nature of the course material, the professor wrote the following belittling defense:
On Jan 10, 2013, at 3:12 PM, Matt Jordan wrote:
I was – indeed – trying to elicit moral comparisons with this juxtaposition, given that the KKK was behind voter suppression in the 1880s and 1920s, by splicing that clip in there. I am sorry that you find that offensive, but I find disenfranchizing [sic] minority and elderly voters based on specious arguments about voter fraud (which multiple studies have shown to be trumped up and, indeed, many of the architects of these laws have all but admitted were purely designed to suppress the vote) equally offensive in a country predicated on one person, one vote.
I don’t think I equated them, but I certainly want you all to think about it. I am sorry that you find this work of challenging you all to think offensive.
Dept. of Film/Video and Media Studies
College of Communications
Penn State University
Professor Jordan openly admits to making moral comparisons between the KKK and the conservative voices behind voter ID laws, and scolds Schleich for daring to voice his concern.
Unfortunately for Professor Jordan, arguments about voter fraud are far from “specious”. As many may recall back in April of 2012, Project Veritas journalist James O’Keefe refuted Attorney General Eric Holder’s dismissive statements about voter fraud by showing how easy it was to obtain Holder’s own election ballot at the polls.
Moreover, there is no valid proof that any current voter ID laws were “purely designed to suppress the vote.”
According to Penn State’s website, COMM 150 Intro to Film Studies is supposed to examine attitudes and assumptions about film as well as “the role cinema–and, especially, narrative film–plays in relating individuals to the values and assumptions of their culture”.
What “assumptions” was Professor Jordan precisely trying to demonstrate by bringing up the issue of voter ID laws? Was he equating these laws to racism and painting their conservative sponsors as racist?
Young America’s Foundation commends Schleich for having the courage to challenge his professor and stand up for the truth.
(UPDATE) Breitbart.com has picked up the story which you can read here.
Brendan Pringle is a Development Officer at Young America’s Foundation’s Reagan Ranch Center.