New York's Fordham University made national news last week when its president, Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, scolded the university’s College Republicans for inviting controversial conservative political commentator Ann Coulter to speak at the Bronx campus.
In a lengthy letter to the Fordham University community, McShane expressed his disappointment in the “judgment and maturity” of the collegians who invited Miss Coulter, explaining that “her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative—more heat than light—and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.” The event was cancelled by the College Republicans.
Oddly, another event which did take place on the campus last week was a panel discussion entitled “Christians and Other Animals” co-sponsored by the Fordham University administration and Department of Theology. Invited to be part of the panel was Princeton University Professor of Bioethics Peter Singer. A founding father of the “animal liberation movement,” Professor Singer has advocated and defended euthanasia, infanticide, necrophilia and bestiality. He has long advocated euthanasia of those who suffer from dementia because of the cost of their treatment and has suggested that the “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person.”
Cleary, Professor Singer’s very public positions indicate that he too is “often hateful and needlessly provocative” especially toward the terminally ill and unborn and that he often espouses a message “squarely at the darker side of our nature.”
Without a doubt, Ann Coulter is an inflammatory political pundit, however her appearance necessitated caution not cancellation. She does not disguise her provocative positions under the umbrella of academic freedom but rather sells them as part of the celebrity culture of politics. However, far more insidious for students on a Catholic college campus is the virtual silence by President McShane in the face of the evil proposed by Professor Singer. Even more shameful is that Singer’s appearance has been billed as an exercise of academic inquiry and theological dialogue. President McShane and the Fordham Administration would do well to end the hypocrisy which attempts to shame a college political group into cancelling a provocative political event while at the same time granting an academic platform to one of the leading architects of the culture of death. It’s time for Fordham to relearn her motto, “wisdom and learning.”