Whoever said that the university stands as a pillar of civilization has obviously never been to Arizona State. Arizona’s public universities, now infamous for their broad progressive curricula composed of subjects to the likes of queer pulp fiction, postmodern pornography and special workshops on “sex workers,” have always been a string of lone islands surrounded by a reality that remains alien to the hermitic Marxists lying within their academic workings.
There is indeed a dark underside lurking beneath the trite silliness of academic department heads – who for the most part missed out on the latest social and political developments of the 20th century (Pardon my boorishness professor, but didn’t we win the Cold War?).
The nature of the story that I am about to tell can be best described by paraphrasing an old 17th-century adage: Hate doth never prosper, for if it prosper, none dare call it hate. How true were those words to prove within the confines of what I had perceived to be an institution where truth and freedom of thought were all that mattered. I was wrong … for my naivete, I paid dearly.
It all began last year when, immediately following the terror attacks of 9-11, a slew of “teach-ins” were held – sponsored in part by university funds – imploring fellow ASU students to “understand the reasoning behind 9-11.” This, in turn, became a series of hour-long sessions dedicated to “educating” the students on how “imperialism” and America’s lack of concern for “international social justice” led to the horrific attacks.
In essence, we were being sold the seditious lie that it was “America’s fault,” that the terrorists were merely reacting to far greater atrocities on our part. Never mind the fact that countless Arab and Muslim families like mine found refuge in the freedom and prosperity that this great nation bestowed upon them. Never mind the fact that no other Arab country on earth could provide my family the same luxuries and liberties that they enjoy now as American citizens.
I, as most people do, see this nation of ours as being fundamentally good and generous to those that have come to seek refuge from the tyranny and oppression plaguing the majority of humanity. The fact that my university was actively sponsoring an educational environment where that very goodness was being vilified and defamed, frankly, revolted and enraged me.
I had made a decision: This injustice being played out in front of my eyes could not be allowed to continue – something must be done. I owed that, at the very least, to my country. In my position as chairman of the student government finance committee, I introduced a bill before the full student senate that effectively left a slew of student-government-sponsored funds that went to fund these acts of hate financially impotent (this action in itself was really more symbolic, if anything, as Arizona State continues to fund – in the latest count nearly $250,000 – the Multicultural Student Center and Campus Environment Team which finances the bulk of the anti-American teach-ins and guest lecturers).
My unwavering stand against these institutional forces that, in my opinion, threatened to take our country back to a darker time of segregation and state-sponsored hate had turned me into a persona non grata to radical, leftist student organizations and university administrators alike.
It all began when the president of the campus Young Socialists, Fabricio Rodriguez, being the grand pooh-bah of the proletariat that he was, accosted me outside my student-government office, threatening that I “had better watch my back” in front of a half dozen witnesses. The university took no action.
Later, I discovered that my car’s gas tank had been tampered with – so much sugar was poured in that it totally destroyed my car and posed a serious hazard to anyone driving the car at the time. Grave physical harm could have resulted had I not discovered this cowardly act in time.
How could this be? Was this the Twilight Zone? Was a true real live American Arab Muslim facing possible bodily harm and acts of oppression in a post 9-11 world, and no one from one of the most traditionally liberal institutions in American history was willing to come to his aid?
But, wait, it gets worse.
A couple of months following the 9-11 attacks, a handful of conservative friends and I stood outside the student commons playing patriotic music on loudspeakers (during the allotted time for amplification that the university mandates) and handing out literature decrying the pacifistic overtones being constantly echoed by university professors and progressive activists. We hadn’t been standing outside for more than 10 minutes before a university official escorted by campus police (a reoccurring theme maybe?) cited us for “obstructing the student walkway” and proceeded to forcibly take away the amplifying equipment which we had paid a deposit for.
These storm troopers were so eager to silence us that they had no qualms whatsoever in ripping down – in broad daylight – a large American flag that we had draped over one of the loudspeakers.
No such action was taken when the campus Progressive Alliance placed a large mural depicting a map of the U.S. spray painted with slogans such as “Racist Nation,” “What about the Arabs?,” “Imperialist Oppressor,” etc. right outside the student commons.
Not one to be easily dissuaded by the petty thuggery of these tyrants-in-training, I along with a group of conservative students decided to hold a teach-in of our own to commemorate the tragic events and to illustrate to our student populace that patriotism is actually (shock!) “cool.”
So, we brought in guest speaker Dinesh D’souza, author of the recent bestseller “What’s So Great About America,” a prominent social critic and renowned intellectual. The university, in turn, sponsored a symposium titled “Sexual Politics and Globalization, post 9-11.” (That’s right, you guessed it, the hijackers being so distraught as they were with the societal rejection of their cross-dressing tendencies had no choice but to blow up 3,000 of our fellow Americans.)
But, wait again, it still gets worse.
Immediately following our event, the left-wing coalition in the student senate attempted to remove all conservative students in student government who were involved in perpetrating this dastardly act of patriotism. By now, I had become simply too uppity for these tyrants-in-training, clad in academic tweeds.
Once this measure failed, university officials naturally reverted to the age-old Orwellian method of “erasing” the dissident. A personal decree signed by the dean for student judicial affairs immediately and unconditionally banned me from attending any student-government meetings or having any dealings whatsoever with any student-government related matter. In addition, I was suspended for the duration of two weeks without any semblance of due process or justifiable cause.
To add icing to the cake, the university dispatched five very intimidating police officers to come and “escort” me outside the premises of campus grounds on the threats of trespassing minutes before I was scheduled to take an important midterm. My lawyer and I would later learn that the university was officially making the dubious claim that I was an “immediate threat to campus safety.” Coincidentally, university officials produced a “threatening e-mail” supposedly sent by me to another ASU student as “reason” for their actions.
But the university had failed to account for one crucial matter in their cynical plot to silence me. I happened to be doing a live on-air interview scheduled at the last minute with the local student radio station during the exact time period in which the university claimed that I “sent” the threats. So, following seven signed affidavits and a recorded audio and videotape placing me in the right place at the right time, the university finally relented and I was allowed to go back to school after having served a total of one week of suspension.
But the damage had already been done, I had missed a total of two crucial midterm exams that I was not allowed to retake – as well as falling far behind in the rest of my classes.
One would have thought that this game of crucifying the conservative would have ended there, but taking a page straight out of the legal codes of Stalin’s infamous kangaroo courts, the dean for student judicial affairs made it clear that if the evidence proved my innocence, then well, more evidence was necessary to find otherwise. In a recent meeting, she handed down the claim that I was still a threat to the campus climate due to numerous “complaints” from “certain” students (she refused to inform us who actually did the alleged “complaining” or show us any of the complaints in writing) who were offended at the “hateful and offensive” nature of my “propaganda.”
My original “sin” of being a conservative would not escape me in this ongoing delirious inquisition. As such, the university has permanently banned me from running for any student-government position and attending any student-government meeting despite the blatant civil-rights violation to my freedom of speech and right to attend public assemblies.
Sadly, this tragedy is being replayed in countless other universities; with more unknown students fighting the goliath of a corrupt university system that refuses to recognize their rights, much less their humanity. Mass burnings of campus conservative newspapers, physical threats, harassment and intimidation of the lone conservative voice have become regular features on university grounds all over the nation. From Berkeley to Brown, Amherst to Vanderbilt, conservative activists are being actively persecuted at the hands of a relentless progressive pogrom.
Yet, after having endured all this, I remain optimistic that one day the long, hard-fought road traveled by the civil-rights movement will reach the doorsteps of Arizona State. For it is apparent, now more than ever, that the American university must be reclaimed by the real America that I know and love – lest we face the cold bleak future of having to wake up one day to an America lost in the lunacy currently being preached within the impregnable walls of the ivory tower.
Oubai Shahbandar is one of the nation’s leading young conservative activists and currently a senior studying philosophy and political science at Arizona State University. He currently holds the proud distinction of being the first and only conservative student activist barred by his respective university from holding or running for any student government office.