Don’t let the biting sarcasm and all the talk about firearms fool you. There are times when I am wholly lacking in courage and simply afraid I have bitten off more than I can chew. In fact, I was feeling that way just last week when I arrived at the University of Minnesota- Morris to give a speech called “How to Win Friends and Irritate Feminists.”
When I walked into the room - which initially had only 100 seats – they were bringing in extra chairs for the overflow crowd. That helped eventually squeeze 168 people into the room. With the crowd running out the door and down the hall, well over 200 people were able to hear my speech. The vast majority were there to protest by walking out or by simply peppering me with hostile questions. Among those hostile individuals was Dr. P.Z. Myers, an associate professor of biology at UMM. Here’s how he described me on his website the day before my visit:
“Mike S. Adams, columnist for TownHall, Horowitzian shill, anti-feminist, creationist clown, homophobic bigot, warrior for free speech, professional racist, gun kook, academic-by-accident, beauty contest judge, and just generally contemptible far, far right-wing nutcase.”
Myer also took a few shots at UMM conservatives while he was insulting the school’s next guest speaker:
“I'm very disappointed in our students. We're far off the beaten track and we don't get that many speakers passing through our area, and they had to go exhibit the poor taste to invite this sorry sack of rethuglican excreta to our campus. Couldn't they have at least tried to find an intelligent conservative to bring out here? Why'd they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this guy? At least we're seeing our rather dismal right-wing campus rag's fading credibility implode with their sponsorship of such a low-wattage guest speaker.”
So, given the atmosphere, it might not surprise my readers that this was the one time I walked into a campus auditorium and drew a complete blank before I started to deliver an important speech. So, I did what I always do when I am lost. I said a prayer, recited a verse, and asked for guidance.
When the speech began, all the words came out to my satisfaction. In fact, the event went so well that students from both sides (politically) were peppering me with compliments afterwards. One said that he had never in his life seen a man turn such a hostile audience in his favor so quickly and so effortlessly.
But, of course, such compliments are misplaced. I didn’t do anything impressive or praiseworthy Thursday night in Minnesota. I simply took a situation I could not handle and turned it over to a Higher Power. If I were not such a faithless and flawed character the request for guidance would hardly have been necessary.
Contrast what happened to me that evening with what happened to Professor Myer. He had stated on his website that the university “paid good money to ferry this stiff here” saying “let's at least have him put on a show and argue with him.” And he speculated about what he might ask me if he could make my talk: “I'm tempted to ask him to simply expound on the distinction between micro- and macro-evolution, so that he can scuttle himself with his own words…”
Dr. P.Z. Myer did, in fact, make my talk Thursday night and something very strange happened: He, too, experienced a sudden and dramatic change in his level of courage during the course of the speech.
During the question and answer session, Professor Myer simply leaned against a door post with his arms crossed and said nothing. He just stared at me blankly and stood motionless in the same place where he was standing for the last twenty minutes of the speech. During the “Q & A”, I looked directly at him and asked “Are there any other questions?”
There was nothing but silence from Dr. Myer. But here’s how he described the scene on his website:
“…a fellow with a darker complexion and a long ponytail raised his hand to ask a good question, one that was actually very close to what I was going to ask as I was working my way up towards the room. He pointed out the fundamental inconsistency in Adams' conversion story—it didn't make sense that a good liberal would, in anger at feminism, abandon all liberal principles to so whole-heartedly embrace all of the completely contrary principles of conservative extremism (his answer: it was complicated, and there was more to the story than he'd been able to tell—I bet). The questions were just starting to warm up and drill down into Adams' hypocrisy, when one of our local ringleaders, who had jumped up out of his seat when Mr. Radical Ponytail had raised his hand, abruptly cut off the questions.”
The problem for Professor Myer is that – perhaps unbeknownst to him – the speech was videotaped. The videotape – taken by the school newspaper – will clearly show two things:
- The man who asked the question about my conversion was white.
- After I answered the white man’s question, the darker man in the ponytail asked a question about civil liberties, which I answered. He was not prevented from asking a question by a “local ringleader.”
More important than what the video will show is what it will not show. Specifically, there will be no image of Dr. Myer mustering the courage to ask a question of Dr. Adams. Instead, he simply cowered away, and then ran back to his home computer in order to blog a fictitious account of a wonderful event – probably while sitting in his pajamas.
But it is a shame that Dr. Myer lacked the courage to ask me a single question. I certainly had a couple to ask of him. And I’ll bet the audience would have liked to hear him explain how an evolutionist who deems the universe to be accidental can be so full of moral superiority. Or perhaps how the accidental moralist can be an atheist and yet so angry at God.
It takes courage for a man to admit that he is sometimes afraid. But that courage is not a gift of random mutation. It is a gift from a God who loves even the most hardened atheist.