It’s admittedly getting more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction these days, especially when it comes to the increasingly bizarre world of anti-gun social justice crusaders. But it is apparently true that a publication recently appeared on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) arguing that “we must ban veterans from four-year universities.” Among the reasons the author of the essay cites is that “veterans usually are associated with extremist right-wing groups such as the tea party and the NRA.”
The publication also faults veterans for “openly mock[ing] the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society,” frightening fellow students with their “overwhelming presence,” and making “insensitive jokes.” Nevertheless, it denies any intention to deprive veterans of an education, explaining that they “should be allowed to attend trade schools, or maybe even community colleges.” It asserts, however, that veterans’ military service has left them “permanently tainted” and “no long [sic] fit for a four-year university.”
A report by Colorado Springs news station KKTV said the publication, identifying itself as Issue #1 of the Social Justice Collective Weekly, was posted on a UCCS bulletin board and was also available “in the library and other places,” before students began removing them. A notation on the bottom right of the newsletter states, “UCCS University Center Approved for posting.” The report goes on to state that KKTV viewers contacted an email address included on the publication and were told by the editors of publication that those behind it are “using fake names to protect themselves.” Whether or not these individuals are current or former students of UCCS is unknown. KKTV was not successful in its own attempt to elicit comment from the producers of the publication.
The university, for its part, has not denied that the publication was distributed on campus or that its posting on the bulletin board had been approved. A UCCS spokesman told KKTV, however, that the article “has nothing to do with the school and does not represent the institution’s views.” The university also claimed that “anyone is allowed to post items on the board” (although why, if that’s the case, posting must be “approved” is not explained).
On August 25, UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy issued a press release defending veterans as “positive and valued members of our academic and campus community,” with “experience and viewpoints that enrich our discussions.” Chancellor Reddy also defended the right of the article’s author – identified as Terry Steinawitz – to air anti-veteran views. “I reject the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others,” Venkat stated, “as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.” He went on to insist that UCCS’ “core values” include various forms of non-discrimination and that “[p]eople earn the right to study at UCCS by virtue of hard work and individual effort, and we do not bar the door.”
Although it’s tempting simply to dismiss the publication as satire or the work of extremely immature and underexposed students encountering more worldly peers for the first time, it is largely consistent with the climate on many college campuses toward firearms and those who use them. We’ve recently reported on a campus-wide lockdown caused by an art student with a glue gun, a lawsuit by college professors claiming the Second Amendment itself requires universities to BAN law-abiding students from possessing firearms on campus, and a geography professor who taught class in protective combat gear because he fears students who lawfully carry concealed handguns on campus. We’ve also chronicled how a University of Kansas professor called for the death of NRA members’ children as a token of “God’s justice.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, public opinion polling shows a far greater percentage of Americans who are highly confident in the military than in universities. And more Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA than express high confidence in higher education.
We certainly agree with Chancellor Reddy that, whatever their motivations, the producers of the anti-veteran publication at the UCCS have a First Amendment right to express their opinions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether they are merely jokers or the more usual intellectually shallow, self-contradictory, elitist, and exclusionary types who haunt academia these days. America’s veterans will not require a safe space to lick their wounds after reading this document. For they, like the NRA, know that protecting freedom is not a job for those who are easily offended, defeated, or deterred or who require thanks from otherwise helpless people who depend on the security their efforts provide.