CNN's Glenn Beck returned to one of his hoary stomping grounds yesterday, the scary world of academia. Beck took up the case of a student group at the University of Florida, who in promoting a campus screening of the movie Obsession, chose to hand out fliers that read, in lieu of something reasonable, "radical Islam wants you dead." When Muslim students understandably felt that this rhetoric - again, deployed in lieu of something reasonable - was going to make their lives on campus fearful and miserable, the University of Florida, who one has to imagine has an interest in keeping a certain degree of calm on campus after this year's famous "bro tasing," demanded an apology from the group that made the fliers. Beck's reaction: to decry the University for "political correctness." I'm sorry, but who fired the first volley in this Battle of Unhinged Generalities?
Naturally, there is a ton of context that Beck has to either ignore or be ignorant of in order to mount his defense. This past October, in a well publicized incident here in Washington, DC, the campus of George Washington University was papered with controversial posters that read, "Hate Muslims? So Do We!!!" The posters were made to look as if they were hung by a conservative campus group called the Young America's Foundation who were sponsoring an "Islamofascism Awareness Week." As it turns out, the posters were actually the creation of a group of students opposed to the event and the group that sponsored it, and, whatever you think of the YAF, these tactics were, at best, misleading. At worst, they only aided and abetted the YAF's sponsored speaker, David Horowitz, and the overarching point he goes around making: that the academic community fosters an anti-conservative environment.
Chances are fairly high that officials at the University of Florida had heard all about this incident at GWU, and acted as they did because they knew the well of dialogue on this issue had already been poisoned. There's no hope in Beck being able to divine these subtleties, however, as he's too busy making a headlong plunge into the well for himself:
GLENN: Adam, I don't know if you saw what happened in Princeton, New Jersey this weekend. Did you see this?
REPRESENTATIVE HASNER: I didn't.
GLENN: This is on the front page of the New York Sun. Can't find it any place else but it's on the front page of the New York Sun. Princeton nudge Dateline, Princeton university is rattling the campus heave after a student who is leading a movement to instill conservative moral values among undergraduates was physically attacked and beaten on Friday and rendered unconscious. A politics major from Texas who was a junior, Francisco Nova was assaulted two miles from the campus in Princeton Township by two black clad men who pinned him against the wall, repeatedly bashed his head against the bricks and told him to shut his mouth. They didn't steal anything or anything else. He is a morally conservative -- he's part of a morally conservative student group that speaks out against homosexuality, premarital sex. He has received death threats via e-mail...This weekend the victim's jaw was badly swollen, his face was covered with cuts and abrasions, the inside of his mouth was bleeding...One student said they would be rightly an outrage had the student been part of some other minority on campus....Mr. Nova, a conservative Mormon, attracted attention earlier this year after pinning a guest column in the student newspaper criticizing Princeton's campaign to distribute free condoms on campus as a tactic sponsorship of Hook Up Sex. He began receiving threatening letters and death threats and e-mails after that column ran.
And yet it goes on to say in this that the university has done nothing, nothing. And no one is speaking out. Here is a Hispanic that was beaten up, just Hispanic. Doesn't matter who beat anything up. If the guy wasn't a conservative, just the Hispanic part would have caused riots. Then he's not only being nailed for his conservative view but also his religious view. What is happening on our campuses?
As it turns out, what was going on on the campus of Princeton University, was that this upright conservative student was lying through those bloody teeth:
Francisco Nava '09 said his falsification of threatening emails to prominent campus conservatives and subsequent assault on himself stemmed from a belief that his actions would draw attention to the pro-chastity cause, attendees at a Monday-evening meeting said early Tuesday morning.
And the conservative group to which Nava belonged, appears to have acted in a reasonable fashion in confronting this incident:
Former Anscombe president Sherif Girgis '08 said he is "deeply angry and upset" that the incident was fabricated. "I am deeply troubled about what this must mean about Francisco and about his personal life," he said, adding that he had harbored suspicions about Nava's story before the Township confirmed the assault was faked.
Girgis, who was one of the four Anscombe members who received threatening emails Wednesday evening along with George, added that he believed the organization -- which promotes socially conservative sexual mores on campus -- had handled the situation well. "We did everything right," he said. "We did not jump to any conclusion about the facts of the case."
Of course, the most egregious thing about Beck attempting to use Nava's lies as a buttress to his own point is that he says the event took place "this weekend." In fact, the Princetonian reported that Nava's story was a fabrication on Friday.