Mary Katharine Ham

I hate to lecture. I really do. But these kids today. Man, they’re askin’ for it.

I’m t-t-t-talkin’ ‘bout my generation. And, a lot of them s-s-s-s-suck.

They don’t take criticism well from their elders and they’re, like, totally not down with authority figures, so I thought I’d try telling them what idiots they’re making of themselves. Call it peer pressure.

Last week, the Columbia University College Republicans invited Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist to speak on campus. He made it as far as the podium, and about six words into his speech before the school’s Leftists Gone Wild—a cast composed of the Chicano Caucus and, predictably, the school’s Socialist contingent—stormed the stage, chanting over the speech, and inciting a melee, which made speech fairly impossible.

Gilchrist and his fellow Minuteman Marvin Stewart, who had been able to get a few words in edgewise before the riot began, were escorted offstage. The question-and-answer session planned for after the speeches, of course, did not occur. There was no debate. There was no reasoned argument. There was only a thuggish, petulant, childish shout-down of opposing viewpoints by the alleged intellectual lights, the eminently tolerant, the vaunted Ivy-Leaguers, of my generation.

If Columbia University were acting in loco parentis, it’d have the rioters run out in the backyard and pick a switch to get whooped with. Instead, the administration is writing letters to the rioters, and dis-inviting guests for other conservative lectures for fear of the audience reaction.

The Minutemen are controversial. I get that. They raise temperatures. The Minutemen’s efforts to patrol the border and fill in the miles of gaps left by shoddy federal enforcement are regarded as “racist,” “oppressive” and “violent” by many college students.

About a month earlier, another controversial speaker took the podium at another Ivy League school and garnered a much different reaction. Mohammed Khatami, the former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spoke to a Harvard audience in September.

I imagine his inability to condemn Holocaust denial could be seen as “racist.” His administration’s closing of 20 reformist newspapers could be interpreted as “oppressive,” and the jailing and executions of student protestors and dissidents has just a whiff of “violence.”

And yet, he evoked something less than the reaction the Minutemen got at Columbia. Let’s compare and contrast—just like we used to do in college!

Student Reaction

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

Be the first to read Mary Katharine Ham's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.