Controversy Ignites Campus-wide Passions
flared on the University campus this week over display of the Confederate
battle flag by senior student Jason Richmond. “There is absolutely
no place for this sort of expression on campus,” said Daniel Webster,
head of the College Whigs. “Mr. Richmond clearly is trying to turn
back the clock on centuries of mercantilist, protectionist tariff
policies.” According to Webster, “Opposition to the Morrill Tariff
of 1861 is an affront to industrial monopolists and economic mercantilists
everywhere." The Whigs club plans to hold a candlelight vigil
to promote awareness of economic nationalist policies.
much of the protest has not been nearly so civil. Thaddeus Stevens,
co-chairman of the Radical Republican Youth Majority led a “Take
Back the National Bank Charter” march around campus, and demanded
that university police “…burn his [Richmond's] dorm room to the
ground and imprison him in the campus brig!” When questioned about
the right to free speech, Stevens responded that such notions as
the writ of habeas corpus and other civil liberties were outdated,
particularly when the fiat currency system was under attack.
outraged campus minority groups responded to Stevens' call to action.
Concerned Black Men for Internal Improvements threw rocks at Richmond's
window while chanting, "The American System today, the American
System tomorrow, the American System forever!" Darnell Williams,
leader of the group, made the following statement: “Richmond is
down on nationalized railroads and canals? What's up with that!?”
When asked if the Confederate practice of slavery also upset him,
Williams noted that he wasn’t concerned with such tertiary topics
and believed people of good conscience could hold differing views
on the issue.
his part, Richmond, who also heads University Students for Classical
Liberalism, condemns the university for what he calls an “economic
blacklist.” In fact, he was prepared to move forward with litigation
against the university if they forced him to remove the flag. Lawyers
for Individual Rights in Education (LIRE), a conservative watchdog
group, is set to take the case. “You don’t know how many clients
we have in our office who were harassed for defending the voluntary
secession of the Confederate states and the line item veto provision
of the CSA Constitution. It just makes us sick,” the group said
in a statement.
the entire university is not against Richmond. The Housing department
issued a press release that reads: “We may not like the works of
Adam Smith and David Ricardo, but we need to respect all points
of view no matter how vile they may be.”
some students such as junior Fred Kristol are upset at the university's
non-interventionist stance, they are confident that university-wide
programming will help rebut Mr. Richmond's anachronistic beliefs.
According to Kristol, "I believe next week's production of
the Jaffa monologues will help clear up many of misconceptions students
may have about the Lincoln economic agenda."
AU student lamented the violence on campus but felt helpless to
stop it. "Uniform tariff policy, paper money, and infrastructure
subsidies are just emotionally-charged issues for many people. It's
inevitable that tempers are going to flare."
Rosen [send him mail] is
a research analyst for a DC area trade association. He is a recent
graduate of the Kogod School of Business at American University
with a degree in business and economics. Jason Richwine is a graduate
student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.