Protesters disrupt conservative pundit's lecture

About 25 students demonstrate outside of Maxwell School where Michelle Malkin spoke about the political left blaming the right for terror attempts, mass shootings and more.

A small but vocal group of students rallied against controversial political commentator Michelle Malkin’s Thursday talk at Syracuse University.

Since the release of her book, "The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror", Malkin has emerged as a leading conservative blogger, best-selling author and regular guest on Fox News Channel.  

Photo: Rebecca Shabad
Michelle Malkin listens to a question from a military veteran during her Thursday appearance at Maxwell Auditorium.

SU College Republicans sponsored Malkin’s lecture, entitled “Repressive Civility and the Criminalization of Conservatism,” which drew nearly 200 people to Maxwell Auditorium.

After originally gathering in front of the Maxwell School’s main steps, the protestors' loud chants were heard for five minutes from within the auditorium where Malkin spoke.  The speaker paused, and a member of the audience asked if protestors could be silenced.

"When my kids were young and they threw tantrums, the best thing to do was ignore them," Malkin remarked.

Protest organizers and SU law students, Laura Hirahara and Cindy Trinh, started a campaign against Malkin’s visit that included a Facebook group and emails.

Hirahara, whose grandparents were held in World War II internment camps, refused to attend the lecture because Malkin was not expected to discuss the 2004 book she considers racist. 

“We don’t want to infringe on anyone else’s free speech rights,” Hirahara said. “We’re just expressing ours in a different way.”

During her talk, Malkin made her case for speaking on college campuses.

“I think it’s important to expose people to ideas that discomfort them, that they disagree with, that they’re not used to hearing in a protected bubble," she said. “You don’t learn civility, you don’t learn discourse, unless you engage with it, instead of shout at it.”

Malkin discussed during her 40-minute lecture how “liberal media” blame political conservatives for events such as the recent shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, Ariz., Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to bomb Times Square and the 2009 mass shooting in Binghamton, N.Y.

While Malkin's charged speech received applause and standing ovations from her fans, a group of College Democrats and Democracy Matters members in attendance remained quiet until the Q-and-A session.

One student questioned Malkin’s repeated claim that global warming is a joke that erupted into a back-and-forth conversation with her.

He said he chose not to join the protest outside because he said there is room for civil debate and wanted to hear what she had to say.

College Republicans president Amanda Sicinski said she wanted to bring Malkin to campus to “a lend a new voice” that would cater to a large audience of students.

When asked about her reaction to the protest, she said, “I don’t know,” and shrugged. One of Sicinski’s colleagues said they could not comment and another chimed in, “Everyone has the right to their opinion.”

Video from protest shot by @SeanHerron

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