Even before Patrick Buchanan’s speech began Wednesday night, protesters organized outside of Kendall Hall to demonstrate.
Protesters accused Buchanan, who was a senior advisor for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, communications director for President Ronald Reagan, a host of CNN’s “Crossfire” and a former presidential nominee, of being racist, sexist and homophobic.
In his speech, Buchanan addressed President Bush’s administration and “whether it is truly conservative.”
Buchanan said that “(Bush) was radicalized by 9/11” and that America would not have gone to war with Iraq if it were not for Sept. 11.
Buchanan, a vehement opponent of the war, said, “I oppose the war in Iraq because I believed (America) was attacking and invading a country that did not attack us.”
Buchanan also talked about free trade, in which he said he once believed.
“There’s a cost to free trade,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan, during one of his campaigns, said he traveled around the country and saw factories being shut down.
“I believe that the establishment of both parties in this country are guilty of economic treason,” Buchanan said.
In the question-and-answer period following the speech, a student in the audience asked Buchanan to explain his view on America’s involvement in the Middle East, particularly Israel.
“I don’t think Israel’s interests are America’s interests,” Buchanan said. “(The Palestinians) have a right to a state and a nation and a homeland of their own.”
Buchanan was also challenged by students in the audience to address his views on immigration.
In the speech, Buchanan said that “what is happening to America is an invasion.”
Some students, particularly those protesting the speech, saw Buchanan’s view that America should close its borders and build a fence at major crossing points on the American-Mexican border as offensive.
Chris Geddis, freshman philosophy major and member of the College Libertarians, said that immigration was one of the reasons that his group decided to protest the speech.
Geddis said that the Libertarians are “against (Buchanan’s) views on all minorities” and that America should have “completely open borders.”
Other groups at the protest included the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Progressive Student Alliance, Women’s Center, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Vox.
The groups organized before the speech through e-mails, according to Matt Richman, senior history and women’s and gender studies major and member of ISO and PSA.
The e-mail encouraged protesters to wear black shirts to make a “strong visual statement that a majority of (the College’s) students, even if they listen to (Buchanan) speak, do not agree with his platform.”
“The main reason (for the protests) is just to show the campus that there are a lot of people who disagree with (Buchanan’s) views,” Dave Weinstein, junior Spanish major and incoming vice president of ACLU, said. Weinstein wrote the original e-mail organizing the protest and then forwarded it to Christi Downey, junior women’s and gender studies major and president of the Women’s Center, who sent it to other organizations.
“I think that Patrick Buchanan is trying to mainstream racism in the United States,” Tom Stone, freshman philosophy major and ISO treasurer, said. “(Buchanan) is trying to bring hate into the public sphere.”
Another issue that worried students was the $15,000 Buchanan received to speak at the College.
According to Howard Wegener, sophomore political science major and treasurer of the College Republicans, Buchanan could have been paid as much as $25,000 if it weren’t for the reduced rate the College Republicans got.
Wegener said that the College Republicans worked with the Young America’s Foundation to bring Buchanan to the College. The Young America’s Foundation offered the College Republicans a reduced rate, according to Wegener. Kathy Loglisci, junior English secondary education major and president of Vox, said she was “very upset that despite the well-known recent budget cuts (Buchanan) got this much money.”
Despite the protests, members of the College Republicans and Buchanan himself said that the speech went well.
When asked about the protests against him, Buchanan said, “There are protests every time I speak” and that he “thought (the speech) went very well.”
Buchanan also said that the protests were “nothing out of the usual.” He called them “infantile” but said that the tough questions he received from students in the audience were “polite.”
The reason for bringing Buchanan to the College, according to Matt Esposito, senior history education major and chair of the College Republicans, was because the group “wanted a big name conservative speaker.”
Tony DeCarlo, senior secondary education and history major and vice chair of the College Republicans, said, “Liberals were shocked that (Buchanan) . he was as smart as he is.”
When asked about the audience, Esposito said, “People should do more research than just looking on Wikipedia.”
Richman, however, said that while Buchanan was “bland on the surface,” students did a good job of challenging him in the question-and-answer period.