NCOR takes many forms
I am writing to let it be known that I take extreme umbrage with this week's column by Josh Kraushaar, entitled "Resisting Organized Resistance." As a committed volunteer for the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) this year, and a passionate supporter of its previous incarnations, I must report upon many counterfactuals, omissions and downright inaccuracies that peppered Kraushaar's addition to the opinion page.
NCOR is a setting from which participants can enthusiastically trade ideas and concepts, make connections and strengthen bonds. The nature of the workshops is left to the presenters' prerogative; spirited interaction pursues means to those ends. Kraushaar's disdain for many of the workshops notwithstanding, his blanket condemnation of the entire conference on the basis of but a few examples deserves another look. It is fair and honest to admit that many of the subjects offered were too far out there for me. However, a diverse range of opinion is crucial to satisfy the needs of the many hundreds that flocked from all over the country (and even beyond) to attend this time-honored gathering.
The descriptions Kraushaar granted to the activists who took part in the weekend's events ranged from insulting to the verge of defamatory. It is a tired and worn-out stereotype that all leftists or independently-minded people are habitual drug users who flaunt their behavior out in the open. That Kraushaar stoops to such levels in order to smear the vast law-abiding majority shows how flimsy his other arguments are.
Moreover, his assertion that those visiting from outside the University "[made] a mess of campus buildings" is false. Had he bothered to remain until the triumphant closing ceremonies that are a hallmark of NCOR tradition, he would have witnessed hundreds of volunteers and participants assisting us in a large-scale clean-up and room rearrangement. Everything was left exactly in the manner that it was found. Many AU students who did not attend expressed surprise that there had been an event at all, given how little trace of its existence remained in Ward Circle Building upon the resumption of classes.
The most egregious charge within this weeks installment of The Right Campus was that "suicide bombings were justified" at last year's NCOR. This claim is so outlandish that it defies defense. If Kraushaar had paid a visit to the workshop entitled "How to be a Peacemaker Before It's Too Late," run by the distinguished and incomparable Professor Colman McCarthy of the SIS department, he might have learned that one vital message behind the whole event was that violence is never justified, be it by strapping explosives to oneself or by dropping bombs from planes. I challenge him to find even a single person from this year's roster who actually believes in such heinous actions against another fellow human. Ridiculous and base as it may be, he wrote these words with little regard for journalistic integrity.
I must admit that I was confused by Kraushaar's continual references to the excellent author and political theorist, George Orwell. Was this intended to insinuate that NCOR's participants all possessed Marxist tendencies? It is no more true to insist that left-wing equals communist as it is to assert that right-wing equals fascist. Neither are light terms to simply throw around. Both political ideologies diminish the individual in favor of the state and party, something that I heartily doubt any participants at NCOR would endorse. By exercising our constitutional right to free speech, we in fact were doing quite the opposite.
As for the complaint that AU had given a "free ride" to the conference, I would have expected Kraushaar to be overjoyed that the University was promoting an event that broadened many people's scope and range. Assembling a diverse and varied group of people is no small feat.
This campus, as highly politically aware as it is, gave a gracious welcome to its out-of-town visitors, and created a safe environment in which their viewpoints could be freely expressed. Instead of tearing down the work that so many of his fellow students worked so hard for, it would gladden me enormously if Josh Kraushaar would plan and run a conference of his own, to continue to widen that spectrum and promote more civilized discourse.