Every once in awhile I am reminded that our friendly, welcoming and inclusive campus has its exceptions. Such was the case when I read the mean-spirited hatchet job by Eric Howanietz, “Conservatives back Libertarian club,” which appeared last week in the The Torch. The target was Young Americans for Liberty, a student club I advise for. Young Americans for Liberty (formerly Students for Liberty) is a student-run, independent, locally controlled, non-partisan club on campus dedicated to creating a freer society. Mr. Howanietz would have you believe that a conspiratorial cabal of conservative organizations is co-opting the libertarian movement and duping naïve students into becoming Young Republicans. To borrow a quote from his piece, “What is the dictionary definition of propaganda?”
As I made clear in my interview with Mr. Howanietz, none of which he used, we don’t take marching orders from any national organization; members choose the direction of the club. The members’ decision to affiliate with YAL last year was a practical one. YAL offers free literature and opportunities to attend conferences, where students can meet like-minded people, learn how spread the message of liberty on campus and organize events. Students also get the chance to hear nationally known speakers and learn more about the libertarian philosophy. While partnering with YAL, we are able to continue to work with Students for Liberty, doubling our resources and opportunities.
Last year we went to three big events, one sponsored by Students for Liberty, one organized by the YAL chapter at UO and one sponsored by YAL in Bellevue, Washington. The Leadership Conference in Portland focused on the nuts and bolts of running a campus organization. The keynote speakers were two women from Reason magazine, who discussed how government lies about “human trafficking” were uniting the puritan right and radical feminist left to crack down on the commercial sex business. Does that sound like a conservative issue?
When UO YAL hosted Milo Yiannopolous, a gay man whose “Dangerous Faggot Tour” is intended to call attention to free speech issues, we went out to see him. The keynote for the YAL conference in Bellevue was flamboyant anarchist intellectual Jeffrey Tucker. Young Republicans? Please. And, for the record, the Cato Institute is a well-respected libertarian think tank, not a conservative one.
Conservatives will like YAL’s views on economic freedom. Libertarians believe economic choices should be made by consumers, workers, employees and businesses, not government bureaucrats or their corporate cronies – something socialists like Sanders and Krugman don’t get. Incidentally, Milton Friedman also won a Nobel Prize challenging the “naïve Keynesianism” of Krugman’s ilk.
Conservatives will also like the fact that we weren’t afraid to show “Hillary’s America,” which includes a historically accurate reenactment of Democrat Woodrow Wilson screening a KKK propaganda film at the White House. Are students now attempting to remove his name from Princeton victims of a “paranoid fantasy?”
Liberals will like members’ views on issues of personal freedom. We were part of the successful effort to decriminalize marijuana in Oregon, and we oppose government spying and censorship and government intrusion into marriage or any relationship between consenting adults.
We do many things on campus and in the community unrelated to big events hosted by national organizations: weekly meetings, panel discussions, showing films, going to the movies, visiting a haunted house for Halloween, camping trips… and we are planning many more!
We have always worked to be a positive force on campus, collaborating with other student organizations and supporting their efforts in a spirit of sincere respect and cooperation. However, at the same time, it is our policy not to shrink from controversial issues, and on occasion our members use humor and hyperbole to provoke discussion. While every group on campus should expect, on occasion, to be the subject of honest criticism, Mr. Howanietz’s article was certainly not that. We believe he owes us an apology.
Any student interested in what the club is really all about can come to one of our meetings, Tuesdays 12-1 in CEN 308, show up to an event or stop by our table. And you can always contact the club at YALatLane@gmail.com.