Apr 20, 2007
People trying to stop the rewarding of hate speech suffered a minor setback Thursday when Cleary University’s executive committee of the board of trustees decided racist hatemonger Ann Coulter would not be uninvited to speak at the school’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series, despite growing opposition to her racist and hate speech.
This was not unexpected news when you consider that seven members of the eight-member board are registered Republicans, and this is just one minor bump in the road to stop hate speech from being rewarded and embraced. Opposition is growing, based on her outrageous speaking fee of $30,000 plus expenses. That’s more than the annual salary of most of our full-time, elected township supervisors in the county.
Coulter’s appearance here reinforces the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, and Cleary’s anteing up the hefty sum of $30,000 simply means hate speech is very profitable and the school is not only endorsing her racist views but paying handsomely for them.
According to an article in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Cleary President Tom Sullivan said somewhere in a written statement that that the goals of the series were to bring many different perspectives of political debate, and that Coulter's appearance was valuable in meeting that aim.
"The committee affirmed the value of the presentation of varied viewpoints through the economic club and noted the excellent diversity of the speakers throughout the history of the club," Sullivan wrote.
I disagree with that; since the series began only one speaker has not had some kind of conservative bent, and that is the elected Mayor of the City of Detroit who spoke in 2004. That’s hardly varied views points, and they are just giving it and the club’s mission statement lip service.
The stated mission of the LEC “is to enrich the Livingston County community by hosting speakers who can share a broad spectrum of social, political, intellectual and cultural experiences.” I am still waiting for anyone to tell me how having Ann Coulter speak in Livingston County enriches anyone, other than her pocketbook.
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has more effect on the entire region than any past speakers combined as the chief executive of the largest city in our state, and he spoke on the relationship between the state’s largest city and its suburbs, including Livingston County. I would venture a theory that almost every single resident in Livingston and Washtenaw counties above the age of 18 has some connection to Detroit, by either being a former Detroit resident, they work in the city or they have attended a professional sporting event or cultural event in the city.
Reporter Dam Meisler did mention how the blogosphere is lining up against Coulter, and he even quoted our cruise director and fellow Livingston Counyite Liberal Lucy.
Starting with the locally produced blog "The Conservative Media" and the site "Liberal, Loud and Proud" posted by Julielyn Gibbons, a Green Oak Township native who lives in Lansing, the anti-Coulter activism has spread to several other blogs including the nationally influential "Daily Kos."
LL hit the nail on the head when she talked about the county’s undeserved reputation, earned because of the lack of minority population and because it was once home to the grand dragon of the Michigan KKK until his death in 1992. However, actions by a small minority continue to perpetrate that old, tired and untrue stereotype of Howell and Livingston County as a racist community, such as the auction of Klan memorabilia a few years ago, the attempted book banning by an anti-gay hate group and now Coulter being welcomed with open arms.
“This is just compounding the black eye that Livingston County has been trying to get rid of for decades now,” LL said in the article.
Sullivan’s response really reflects why the county and Howell has a long way to go before it shakes its racist past.
"Many in our community were pleased with the selection of speakers and, in particular, with Ms. Coulter," he said.
Gee, that kind of says it all, but our cruise director said even more.
"I, for one, will not rest until I hear that Ann Coulter is not going to appear in October," Gibbons said.
A lot of us feel the same way, and toward that end we need to continue to contact all the sponsors, the sponsors boards of directors, the university and the school board of trustees, as well as Cleary alumni. We also need to physically show up at some of their events. The first opportunity will be Monday when Cleary holds an open house at Mott Community College in Flint to recruit transfer students. It seems ironic that the university wants to recruit students in a predominately African-American city, but it sponsors a racist like Coulter.
The open house will be held at the Mott Memorial Building (Room 2006) on Monday, April 23 from 6-8 p.m.