I did manage to get to Mike S. Adams’ talk here at UMM. It was a packed room (not our biggest lecture room here, but it was filled to capacity) and I arrived late, so I had to stand outside the door to listen in. Kudos to our students, who were polite and attentive, and let him blather on without interruption.
Adams is a slick, fast-talking, folksy guy, and he made the audience laugh quite a bit. He had to talk fast, though, to keep his story from sinking beneath the weight of its improbabilities, and I do wonder how many of our students actually caught on to his inconsistencies.
To summarize his schtick: it was the standard conversion story, of the sort I’ve heard so routinely from the loons of the right. He was a liberal! Democrat! atheist! feminist! But then, because he is a down-deep nice fellow who is a champion of little guy, who opposes abuses of civil liberties, who thinks we need to stand up for free speech against those in power, who was unfairly persecuted himself, (these were nice stories, you could see that his audience was entirely sympathetic with these positions), he had to take a stand against the extremist politics of the people in power, and side with those who shared his principles.
The powerful were the feminists; the principled was the Republican party.
Repeat after me: WHA…??? How could anyone make such a silly argument?
After his tale of woe, his sad saga of political correctness at his university run amuck and leading to university officials poking into his private email, he bragged of the events leading to his affiliation with people like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh, the doubling of his salary, and his mention on the pages of national news magazines. Seriously, the most horrible things that happened to him as a consequence of the vast powers of those awful feminists were that his email privacy was violated (a deplorable act, I agree, and his university administration bungled everything impressively) and he was offended by The Vagina Monologues, and as a result he is richer and more famous, and has obviously allied himself without argument with the truly powerful and wealthy…and he has parlayed this into speaking gigs where he pretends to be the oppressed and abused.
There were other inconsistencies. I frankly believe his accounts of university hiring committees where people tried to turn applicants down because they were religious or male were lies; I can imagine more subtle biases sneaking in, but to claim that ‘feminists’ (it was always wicked feminists) would openly state that someone was unsuitable because they were religious is absurd. I don’t believe him when he said he regretted a women’s resource center pulling ads for Planned Parenthood when he demanded that they also run ads for one of those fake pregnancy crisis centers that offer nothing but religious browbeating against abortion: he was suing the resource center. Is that the kind of action you take when you are sincerely concerned about seeing that women are informed about reproductive health? Baloney. He’s simply an anti-feminist kook. If he could have sued them into bankruptcy, he would have done so cheerfully and profitably, and would have turned it into another of his stories about the underdog (him) triumphing over the tyrants (feminists).
He got a few general questions at the end, nothing too challenging at first—he was asked about his attitudes toward racism, for instance, and got a few happy comments from our young Republicans. The event was scheduled for 7:00 to 9:00, and then at 8:30…trouble. Someone asked how he could be for civil liberties while supporting the actions of the Republican party in making wiretaps without warrant, especially since he’d been so outraged that his university administration had unjustly dug into his private email (his answer: his paranoia about terrorist attacks justifies it.) Then 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. I was not surprised. Free speech is fine and all, until it starts to cause Republicans mild discomfort.
It was familiar Horowitzian bombast. I really don’t understand how anyone can take these guys seriously; their angle is to whine aggrievedly about cruel and politically correct liberal academics who strangle free speech and unfairly oppress conservatives with speech codes and denial of their right to air their opinions on college campuses…at college campuses, their expenses paid for, honoraria in their pockets, with those liberal academics and administrators all sitting right there in the audience, listening. You’d think the dissonance between their claims and the obvious reality of the situation would kill ‘em dead from shock on the spot, but no…they just rave on obliviously.