Letter: Mills should not allow communist groups on campus

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September 23, 2009

I write this letter not as a Democrat, Republican, liberal or other affiliation. I write this as an American. As someone who loves her country and loves the freedoms we have been given by our founding fathers. I am not an eloquent writer, but I am an ardent patriot.

On Sept. 10 I went to the campus Tea Shop to get lunch and was immediately appalled at what I beheld. A group of Marxist/Communists were handing out propaganda and literature. This is the most un-American, unpatriotic event I have ever witnessed for myself, other than 9-11. At least with 9-11, it happened quickly and we could see immediate, visible effects of those terrorists who would take our freedoms away. These communist groups work slowly, seeping into our society, quietly pushing their agenda. It will be no big hit as with 9-11, but a slow degradation of our fundamental rights and beliefs. It begins in our schools, on our campuses, with each one of us and works itself into our society — and we are allowing it!

I am dumbfounded that this was blatantly allowed and no one so much as blinked an eye of disapproval. I have attended many colleges and have very much enjoyed my time here at Mills. Mills is a beautiful community, not simply because of the topography but because of the people who make Mills what it is. For the first time, I was ashamed to be part of this community. To be part of something that overstepped its bounds in the arena of tolerance. Am I not the only one who will stand up and voice my disdain for the tolerance of communism in our homeland? We have the freedoms we cherish because we are not a communist community. When will enough be enough? Will we tolerate so much and voluntarily end up with no freedoms? When we don’t have the freedom of speech to preach tolerance anymore, what will you do then? I submit, even less than you have done now, in order to preserve these freedoms.

I know Mills is a community which prides itself in diversity and tolerance, and I understand that all have a right to voice their opinion whether we agree with it or not. I will tolerate many things, but communism running through my school campus is not one of them. Notwithstanding our first amendment rights, I propose there are some things we as Americans should not be complacent about. I enjoy my freedoms just as much as every one of you, yet there are those who use these rights in order to take our freedoms away.

Serving our country is one of the most patriotic acts we can participate in. If we can council to have our military denied rights of attending on campus for recruiting, yet allow communism free reign to infiltrate their propaganda throughout our schools, what does that say about us? What does that say about our patriotism, or lack thereof? My dad is a Marine, a Vietnam veteran. He, along with countless others have taken bullets and sacrificed more than some of you are willing to admit all in the name of freedom and liberty. Many are still serving and giving their lives on our behalf, and yet we allow the propaganda of communism to be spread in our home, in our backyard, on our campus. I watch my dad suffer every Veterans Day as he remembers his friends who have given all, even their lives. For those who have died in his arms, for those who left their families behind, for all the death that he caused. What message are we sending our heroes? It is nothing less than a slap in the face.

I would hope that I am not alone in my conviction, and that others are strong enough to share their voice as well. In working to be a better and tolerant community, I would think we would not tolerate extremist groups like Aryan Nation, the KKK or The New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. How is communism any different, and why should we allow such rampant acts of non-patriotism on our campus? Let us, just as our government, take a personal oath to protect our constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Let it not be us who sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to protect our freedom. It is our responsibility.


Letter: Mills should not allow communist groups on campus was published on September 23, 2009 in Letters to the Editor, Opinions and tagged with ,

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  • Sandra Macias

    Dear Ms. Taylor,

    My response is offered with respect and admiration for your willingness to speak out against what you perceive as an injustice.

    Let me begin by saying I was present when you spoke at the ASMC meeting during the Open Forum, and spoke with you again on the walkway near Mills Hall two days later. I reveal that because during the course of both the meeting and our conversation, I suggested that you begin an organization on campus to conduct patriotic events, thus increasing the level of patriotism felt on campus. I even offered to help you fill out the forms necessary for starting a group, and reminded you that campus groups receive ASMC funding to help offset the costs of events at Mills.

    What shocked me was your response to my offers of help. You refused, stating you were too busy with school to begin an organization focused on patriotism. Yet, in your speech and your letter, you end with a call to action for Mills students to not sit on the sidelines. However, based on our conversations, sitting on the sidelines is exactly what it seems you intend to do. I will not argue with you as to whether Communism is a threat to our nation, but I personally believe that apathy is a far more insidious threat to our sovereignty.

    Our President ran under the platform of change, and people may argue that he is or is not accomplishing his stated goals. That is not the reason I mention his work as our leader. I mention him not to begin a political discussion, but to remind you and myself that change does not come about by complaining. Change can only occur after action is taken. Change can begin by doing something as simple as taking 5 minutes to fill out some forms and find a sponsor for a club. If you feel strongly about something like patriotism, do not only speak to your convictions, but act on them!

    Sincerely,
    -Sandra Macias

  • Lola Olson

    Spoken like yet another person who hasn’t studied history or differentiated between Communism and Totalitarian gov’ts. Because corrupt gov’t’s have taken on Marx’s model and passed it off as Communism, people have an extreme misunderstanding of the system. It is no more unpatriotic than the idea of capitalism. I suggest that before you go off spouting what something is or isn’t and how much of a threat it is, you actually learn what it is in the first place. Open Marx’s Communist Manifesto and read it.

    And the difference between these people and army recruiters is that these people are seeking others to join them in a meeting to discuss Communism. They’re probably open to debate and discourse. Army recruiters are looking for soldiers that will do as their told with no arguments. You can swing the word “propaganda” around as much as you’d like, but you’ve offered nothing but impassioned words to convince us that their fliers were propaganda. In that case, their fliers are no more propaganda than your letter.

    In the end, it’s about freedom of speech. These people are passing off an idea open for discourse. I’m sure if the army recruiters were just coming to Mills to talk about the army and what they do, rather than getting people to enlist and risk their lives, it would be welcome. And just as they have the right to express their opinions, so do you. Your rights were not trampled upon here and this letter is proof you had the ability to express yours. I also have the ability to express mine. And my opinion is that you should read and know something before you dismiss and condemn it.

  • Alumna

    Hilarious.

    This is too funny for me to find offensive and ignorant.

    Keep it up!

  • Anne Wittig

    Dear Ms. Taylor,

    While I disagree with many of your statements, one statement stood out to me as incredibly important: “Let it not be us who sits on the sidelines waiting for someone else to protect our freedom. It is our responsibility.” For holding this belief and acting accordingly, I would respect you. (It is our right and duty to discover for ourselves what is meant by the term “freedom” and you seem to have done so.)

    As a club president, I must stress that it is, as Ms. Macias said, very simple to create a club. I urge you to reconsider her suggestion that you start a campus organization based on your beliefs. All you need to do is find two other people to help you get it started, and you will receive money from the college to bring your views to the college.

    And, in defense of our constitution, I MUST say that while I disagree with your statement that certain people ought to be denied their freedom of speech, I strongly recommend that you follow your own advice: get off the sidelines, follow the simple steps to create a club, and take on the responsibility you seek to encourage.

    Do not wait for someone else to protect your freedom. We are all students, we are all busy, but we are all here because someone believed that we have the power to be leaders. Sometimes it isn’t easy to step into a leadership role, but if you are truly passionate about these beliefs, you would not hide behind the excuse of schoolwork.

    Take those 5 minutes. Take a stand.

    Strong women, proud women, all women, Mills women!

    Welcome to Mills.
    Anne Wittig

    (As a side note, federal funding regulations require Mills to allow army recruiting on campus. Mills does, in fact, comply with these regulations.)

  • Patriot

    I admire Ms. Taylor for putting herself on the line knowing there would be those who would try and diminish what she had the RIGHT to say and what she found startling in our culture and at Mills. I applaud her for taking a stand in spite of your negative and condescending remarks that I have read. It seems when truth is spoken it is hard for some to hear and so the attacks and belittling remarks begin. I find it ironic that the Communism pamphlets are allowed and even accepted, but when a person speaks their mind, all hell breaks loose as stated above. You all talk about the 5th amendment–I have always understood that was for everyone, including Ms. Taylor!

    Sandra Macias – pointing and trying to diminish someone because they do not choose for WHATEVER REASON to start a club like you did should not ever be in any leaders handbook!

    Lola Olson–because Ms. Taylor does not agree with you means she is ignorant?? Such assumptions you make are neither intelligent nor kind.

    The list goes on–I wish I could be as WONDERFUL as you all portray yourselves. LOL

  • Campanil Staff

    We appreciate the comments that have been left thus far. Just a reminder to keep the conversation civil. Focusing on a person’s ideas is much more appropriate than attacking one’s character. This is a space where everyone should feel safe articulating their thoughts.

  • Kate

    I am very proud of Mills women standing up for what they truly believe in…I will always respect passion and the heat (and sometimes ill-chosen words)that goes with that…however, to calmly call anyone ignorant is just not the right place to go with dialog that should instead seek to engage.

  • Sam

    Ok, I am so glad that people are speaking their minds. It truly takes a strong person to stand up for something that they believe in and speak out about it. So I say good job to Ms Taylor. Although I do not think that we should ban a group based on beliefs, we do have the right to believe in whatever we want and if people want to share their interests in communism let them.

    I also do not believe that anyone was “attacking” Ms Taylor. They were just simply stating their beliefs on this topic.

    I do agree with Ms Macias and Ms Wittig in saying that if you are saying that we cannot just sit on the sidelines and that it is our responsibility why don’t you start a group on your beliefs?

    So good job on speaking out. You are a leader for doing so. But you must remember “Leaders Walk Their Talk.”

  • j. mccarthy

    Sounds like we need a mills division of the House Committee on Un-American Activites. Just don’t tell Hollywood.

  • workin’ class woman.

    yes, it is patriotic to fight for your country, however, i don’t see any of the rich politicians’ sons or daughters doing it. instead i see the working class citizens, some of whom have just graduated from high school, enlisting because the military provides education and training, as well as benefits. if it’s working class blood that’s being shed in this patriotic war against terrorism, then VIVA COMMUNISM.

    one day the proletariat will rise against the bourgeoisie, who have no interest in working class well being, and when that happens, by god, i’ll be there fighting alongside my fellow working class comrades, being as patriotic as possible.

  • Also Alumna

    I personally think every person has a right to their own opinions.

    That being said, it would also be prudent to actually do some research on a topic before you publicly comment about it. Ms. Taylor obviously has very strong feelings about patriotism and what she considers to be “American values”. Unfortunately, she does not seem to have a clear concept of the First Amendment, nor what Communism actually is. She speaks of tolerance, but does not act on it. It is truly sad that someone, who has entered into a institution which was built on liberal ideals, could be so close minded and judgmental. It is also a little disheartening to see so few posts in reply. I would hope that a number of students taking courses such as Sociology, Poli Sci, and History would have more to say on the subject as it directly references their areas of expertise.

  • Rachelle Rose

    Many things have been pointed out by the previous commentators, but I would just like to sum up the points I found most relevant.

    Just as one has the right to dislike or disagree with an opinion or belief, such as communism, one also has the right to act on his/her own beliefs. For example, being here in the U.S. where we have freedom of speech and we are free to believe what we want and to act on those beliefs, Ms. Taylor had the right to express that she doesn’t agree with communism (no matter what she bases her disagreement upon) and acting upon those beliefs she had the right to refuse to read information offered by said group. In addition, the alleged communist group of which Ms. Taylor writes in her letter has the right to hang signs and give out such information as it relates to their cause–it is equally patriotic to exercise the right to freedom of speech.

    That one is called unpatriotic because one doesn’t conform to societal norms is ridiculous–as in it calls to be ridiculed. I’m not a Christian or Catholic, so does that make me unpatriotic because every single president we’ve had has been part of one of those religious affiliations? Am I unpatriotic because I believe that all of our citizens should be allowed equal access to health insurance when half the country disagrees with President Obama’s health initiative? The answer is no. I’m patriotic because I love my country–even though I may disagree with some of its policies and I may even try to bring about some change in the way it works, I am equally as patriotic as the boy who just enlisted in the army.

    I may disagree with communism and I may disagree with stereotypical patriotism (which is what I feel has been demonstrated in Ms. Taylor’s letter), but I love my country and that is why I feel the need to address inefficiencies (similar to the alleged communist group) and fix those inefficiencies via our congressional representatives. I think it is unfair that in a country where the majority is supposed to protect the minority, minorities are far worse off than any majority member, as far as rights–and by minority I mean any group that is not part of the societal norm–i.e. non-christians, non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual, etc.

    One last point: You can love your significant other, but you can be mad at them or disagree with them–the same goes for love of the country. Just because someone is mad or disagrees with their country’s policies doesn’t mean they don’t love their country.

  • Catherine Taylor

    In all the assumptions of what is/isn’t my major, what I do/do not read personally, and what I do/do not do in my “spare time,” I have yet to hear any thoughts on the actual issue of my concern “patriotism on campus.” I am willing to accept that there are a few people on campus who may actually love their country, it’s just a sad state that no one feels they could/should show it.

  • Maggie Jo

    Think before you speak. If you haven’t read Marx than you don’t know what his ideals are, if you haven’t read the Communist Manifesto than you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Mills above all is a school. Part of the learning process is being INCORRECT! What kind of community are we if we don’t offer each other the chance to be wrong. If you make the effort “Know thine enemy” you may find you have similar ideals.

  • Catherine Taylor

    The original title of my article was simply “Communism on Campus.” The argument was never IF they should be allowed on campus, but that our lack of patriotism welcomes anti-American semitism (and obviously so from the tone of several responses here). Missing from the third paragraph in original submitted draft “I am not saying we should deny anyone their first amendment rights, but why roll out a red carpet and welcome anti-American Semitism? It is poison.”

    Also, what Sandra failed to mention was our 60 second in-passing conversation included information that the day we spoke was the deadline for starting a club. I do appreciate her stopping to take the time and inform me of where to go should I meet the requirements in 1/2 a day. However, I owe no one an accounting of my personal time outside of Mills or an explanation of the myriad of community services I am already a part of. While I agree clubs are sometimes a decent way to get your agenda across, it is a very sad day at Mills when we have all acknowledged that without a club, no one would be bothered with patriotism on our campus.

    I also want to mention that while I accept the fact that the communists had a right to their table, the manner in which they pushed their agenda was offensive. They are the only table/group I have observed litterally pushing their newspapers in people’s faces as they walked by. I have had several people mention to me that they were uncomfortable in the manner they felt the group was behaving. So I question what our standards are for these groups that come on campus?

    Left out from original article: ““The price of liberty is great, but the gifts of liberty are priceless. Liberty allows each of us to attempt his best destiny; his virtues freely chosen, his fate freely found. Liberty opens the door to our every field, to our greatest understanding; because there’s no force for wisdom so powerful as an unfettered and independent mind and open interchange with others. Liberty paves the pathway of the fullest realization of our identities, our lives, and our loves…each his own. Our great idea of liberty is under attack. It’s under attack from without by villains who would enslave us by force, and from within by fools who would enslave us softly with misguided promises of equality, financial security and endless peace. Ideas when rightly conceived can lead us through hellfire to the beautiful and the good. Yet they have no physical presence. They live on earth only so far as we embody them and only for as long as we are willing to defend them with all the courage and wisdom we can find.” -Andrew Klaven.

    I will close with the concluding paragraph from the original article.
    “On Monday, September 14, 2009 I addressed the Student Senate regarding this issue. I hoped to find courage and wisdom. Wisdom to do the right thing, and courage to take a stand. Instead I was encouraged to join a political party club or start my own patriotism club. I was flabbergasted and felt they totally missed the bar. Patriotism is not a club! It is a spirit we embody within ourselves and throughout our student body. Where are the American flags on campus? The only patriotic event I have seen on campus was January 2009 for the presidential election. Are we only patriotic once every four years? If there had been a different outcome for the election would there have been a celebration of our American tradition? There are small things we can do, and do now. I suggest we start by supporting our troops by wearing red every Friday. You may or may not support the war, but that is beside the point. Our troops are still serving whether we like it or not and they need our support. We can also show our patriotism by denouncing acts of anti-American propaganda on campus. How will you take a stand? How will YOU show patriotism?”

    *for the actual original version of the letter, please feel free to let me know.

  • Alumna

    Catherine, there is nothing inherently anti-American or anti-patriotic about Communism! It is simply a different political philosophy and system then democracy. And this being a democratic society means people have the right to express views contradictory to or dissenting from the “norm”. I’m patriotic, but just because I don’t drape myself in the American flag or decry people for passing out Communist literature doesn’t mean I’m anti-American (though it does give you the right to accuse me of it). In fact, the very act of passing out that literature – and not being worried about being arrested and tortured for it – is in itself an act of patriotism (supporting the 5th amendment and all). Banning people with dissenting views isn’t patriotic or “pro-American.”

  • Anthropology Anne

    Dear Catherine, the difficultly I’m having with your courageous letter is a very apparent confusion of terms and concepts, which suggests a lack of knowledge. Communism is political and economic system in which the state owns all of the means and modes of production and distribution. They don’t hold elections and they typically have a one party rule. The KKK and Aryan Nation are HATE groups. There’s simply no comparison between a political ideology that was articulated by a philosophical genius (Marx) and hate groups that seek to destroy based on superficial differences.

    Further, what is “anti-American Semitism” (mentioned in one of your replies)? Semitism refers specifically to “the state or quality of being Jewish and / or a subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic language group that includes Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic.” Anti-Semitism is hatred toward Jews such as the atrocities committed by Hitler and Nazi Germany (no, they weren’t communists). Did you mean anti-American sentiment? Big difference.

    Beyond the beautiful open-minded and tolerant community found at Mills is also a community of remarkable professors whom we all have access to. I highly encourage you to take a Political Science course or speak to a professor in such a discipline so you can better understand the various political / economic ideologies that make our world such a fascinating place.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/cena-revolution/ William Leifon

    Well, take al ook at our site and see what you make out of it. Authoritarianism and communism wil make America a morep rogressive nation and help the working class struggle. Sometimes, too much freedom can cause chaos. “War is bad, but peace alongside starvation is worse”.

  • Katy Donovan

    At first I was like “I will hear the poor girl out,” I went to Mills and know exactly how many times she will be shouted down.
    But my problem with her argument is that she does not actually explain how communism is worse than 9/11. She just says it. Will the Marxists kill people? How? Why? What historical evidence is there to back this up? How is communism the opposite of freedom? My problem is not Ms. Taylor’s stance, but the utter lack of analytical and argumentative skills in this sad sack of a piece, which strings together a few patriotic symbols hoping an argument will pop out of them. And also, it was cheap and unconvincing to use other people’s pain (her father’s, the victims of 9/11) to further her own political belief that certain groups should be censored.

  • Yet another alumna

    According to someone, near everything is un-American. Heck, according to Fox News, higher education is un-American, and if they think that’s awful, I can only imagine what they’d think of Mills women.

    Anyhow, my point is that everyone thinks something is un-American. If we go around banning everything we don’t like, well, that pretty much brings us to another -ism.

  • Gene B

    They can protest all they alike, until Kingdom come. The cupboard is bare and there’s nothing left to give out. Apres Obama, le deluge.

  • Joe Ellis

    about the Klaven quote on liberty

    Liberty allows each of us to attempt his best destiny; his virtues freely chosen, his fate freely found. Liberty opens the door to our every field, to our greatest understanding; because there’s no force for wisdom so powerful as an unfettered and independent mind and open interchange with others. Liberty paves the pathway of the fullest realization of our identities, our lives, and our loves…each his own.

    liberty – i would argue that without substantial government intervention the poor or even just workers (as opposed to bosses) have very little liberty. without substantial government support for education at all levels poor kids sure don’t have a chance at the fullest realizations of their identities, lives etc.

    the US sure doesn’t have equality of opportunity because of our high level of inequality. i find our notion of liberty a little suspect since it basically means those with the most money have the most freedom – to dictate terms to others.

    the worker makes a bad decision at work and is fired. the CEO makes some bad decisions and thousands of workers are laid off – and likely he’ll either retain his job or else get a nice golden parachute of some millions of dollars.

    if you would actually read what most of the communists write or have to say, you’d probably find out that you don’t have much of an idea about what they really believe in the first place.

    and the idea that communism is about state rule and state control is actually false – you’re looking at the soviet bloc or china which have about as much to do with what marx or engels wrote as the spanish inquisition has about real genuine christianity. the idea (as i understand it) was that all people need a say not just in the legal aspects of the state, but a say in the way capital and the means of production are used as well – that the government should consist of representatives from the workers who can be immediately recalled by those they represent. the idea was that the “means of production” should be democratic – that factories should be owned and run by the workers, NOT by the bourgeoisie or by a government bureaucrat.

    the most un-american thing is the idea that ideas ought to be censored.