Several parents with kids at UN-Chapel Hill have e-mailed me their outrage over the appalling treatment of Tom Tancredo. Yesterday, the chancellor sent the following note to parents:
Dear Carolina Parents,
To keep you informed, we are forwarding a message from Chancellor Holden Thorp that was disbursed to the University community today.
Your Office on Campus,
New Student & Carolina Parent Programs
I want to express how disappointed I am in what happened last night when former Congressman Tom Tancredo wasn’t able to speak when a protest got out of hand, and our Department of Public Safety had to take action.
Congressman Tancredo felt threatened and left without making his remarks.
Mr. Tancredo was scheduled to speak about immigration. We expect protests about controversial subjects at Carolina. That’s part of our culture. But we also pride ourselves on being a place where all points of view can be expressed and heard. There’s a way to protest that respects free speech and allows people with opposing views to be heard.
Here that’s often meant that groups protesting a speaker have displayed signs or banners, silently expressing their opinions while the speaker had his or her say. That didn’t happen last night.
On behalf of our University community, I called Mr. Tancredo today to apologize for how he was treated. In addition, our Department of Public Safety is investigating this incident. They will pursue criminal charges if any are warranted. Our Division of Student Affairs is also investigating student involvement in the protest. If that investigation determines sufficient evidence, participating students could face Honor Court proceedings.
Carolina’s tradition of free speech is a fundamental part of what has made this place special for more than 200 years. Let’s recommit ourselves to that ideal.
Is that it? How about an investigation of what faculty and staff knew in advance about the protesters’ plans to sabotage the event?
Reader K. e-mailed me yesterday:
Thank you for featuring the atrocious treatment of Tom Tancredo by UNC students. My daughter is an out of state student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She turned down acceptances at Ivy League schools to attend UNC-CH.
I am very disturbed by the fact that, according to editorial page activity in the Daily Tar Heel in the week prior to Tancredo’s visit, it is clear these left-wing student groups had been working diligently to inaccurately portray Tancredo, and his university student sponsors, as bigots, white supremacists and purveyors of hate speech. It was a classic ‘attack the messenger’ move made by those who KNEW they could not attack his message.
Tancredo was at UNC-Chapel Hill to question the proposed policy of awarding illegal immigrants in-state status for tuition purposes. He was there to point out the lack of fairness in a policy that would reward illegal immigrants for breaking our laws, while effectively punishing American citizens, who reside legally in other states, by assessing them out of state tuition. He was there to question the wisdom of encouraging criminal behavior by creating a set of rewards for that behavior. And he was there to remind us all, in this troubled economic environment, Americans can no longer carry on their backs non-citizens who do not pay taxes and who do not honor our laws.
Tancredo was not attempting to deliver a message of hate…but a lesson in economics and constitutional law….and fair play.
The university has failed its students by allowing these protestors to drown Tancredo’s voice and deny their fellow students the opportunity to learn. The adults (professors) who encouraged this suppression of free speech and quashed this learning experience should be wondering if they’ve lost sight of their legitimate purpose. And these student protestors need to get out their world history books and fill in the gaps of their public school education. Personally, I would suggest they start with the U.S. Constitution, and then take care not to omit the chapters that cover the many, many sad historical accounts of humans victimized by oppression and tyranny.
I’m very disappointed and embarrassed on behalf of UNC-Chapel Hill.