Buchanan Gets Face Full of Salad Dressing
Friday, April 01, 2005
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -Commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan (search) cut short an appearance after an opponent of his conservative views doused him with salad dressing.
"Stop the bigotry!" the demonstrator shouted as he hurled the liquid Thursday night during the program at Western Michigan University (search). The incident came just two days after another noted conservative, William Kristol (search), was struck by a pie during an appearance at a college in Indiana.
After he was hit, Buchanan cut short his question-and-answer session with the audience, saying, "Thank you all for coming, but I'm going to have to get my hair washed."
The demonstrator, identified by authorities as a 24-year-old student at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (search), was arrested and faces a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace. He was released on a $100 cash bond, pending his April 14 arraignment.
"He could have faced a felony assault charge, but Pat Buchanan decided to not press that charge," university spokesman Matt Kurz said.
Buchanan's visit had evoked controversy on campus because it fell on the birthday of the late Mexican-American labor leader Cesar Chavez (search). Buchanan favors tighter controls on immigration.
Kristol, editor of the influential conservative magazine The Weekly Standard and former chief of staff to Vice President Quayle, was splattered by a student during a speech Tuesday at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind.
Members of the audience at the Quaker college jeered the student, then applauded as Kristol wiped the pie from his face and said, "Just let me finish this point." Kristol then completed his speech and took questions from the audience.
The student, who was not immediately identified, was suspended and could face expulsion following a disciplinary review, Earlham Provost Len Clark said Wednesday.
Clark also issued a written apology complimenting Kristol for his "graciousness."
7 days Archive Go
Pie hit conservative speaker but missed its mark
April 3, 2005
This is one pie that didn't fly.
Granted, Earlham College student Josh Medlin successfully smeared pastry all over neoconservative thinker William Kristol during Kristol's talk on the Richmond campus Tuesday. But the sophomore's sophomoric actions did not make Kristol appear "silly," which was Medlin's intent.
Instead, Kristol's graceful reaction -- "Let me just finish this point," he said, wiping his face -- and his willingness to answer questions for 30 minutes afterward showed him to be a class act. No wonder he received three standing ovations from more than 500 listeners.
Medlin and his small band of student supporters, meanwhile, are left with egg on their face.
They've come off looking like spoiled and yes, silly, babies unwilling to tolerate a perspective different from theirs -- and this at a Quaker school founded on the Friends' tradition of inclusiveness and "respect for the consciousness of others."
The circumstances behind Kristol's presence at the eastern Indiana liberal arts school make this incident worthy of reflection.
Kristol wears several hats, but the one that upsets Medlin, according to a statement he released Friday -- "Why I Threw the Pie" -- is Kristol's role as co-founder and chairman of the Project for the New American Century. The nonprofit promotes America's role as a world leader backed with a strong military.
Given the war in Iraq and the nation's protracted divisons, Kristol's ideas deserve scrutiny and debate.
That's why the 52-year-old commentator was on campus, said Newell Pledger-Shinn, 24, an Earlham College graduate and assistant to Earlham President Doug Bennett.
A recent study of 275 first-year students indicated almost 80 percent consider themselves "liberal" or "far left." Pledger-Shinn calls his own politics liberal.
But during the presidential debates, Pledger-Shinn was disturbed by the disconnect between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. They sounded as if they were delivering monologues from parallel universes, he said. They neither connected nor dealt with issues of substance.
Hence a radical idea, cooked up by Pledger-Shinn and friends. "On campus, where our mission is committed to truth wherever that will lead, I wanted us to model serious, respectful, challenging dialogue about things that matter."
They formed DIALOGUE -- Diverse Individuals Actively Listening to Others for Greater Understanding and Education. They asked Kristol to speak.
Pledger-Shinn was "shocked and horrified" by the pie-throwing. "We had invited Kristol, hoping that Earlham students, being passionate, idealistic and articulate as they are, would give him a run for his money." But not a physical attack.
The college leadership concurs. Earlham issued a statement condemning the pie-throwing, although some faculty have asked for tolerance for Medlin -- who has been suspended indefinitely. Others on the faculty questioned why a pacifist school would welcome Kristol.
Still, a noon pro-pie-throwing rally Friday drew only a half-dozen or so of Medlin's supporters from among the 1,200 students. Despite Medlin's statement, saying he wanted to answer questions, he did not return phone calls Friday from his home in Lynn.
But the fact that another student at a Michigan college Thursday smeared conservative Pat Buchanan with salad oil, and cited Earlham, shows Medlin has had an impact. Sadly, it's about as substantial as cream pie.