Cruz, “Liberty” and Teletubbies

AP CRUZ A USA VA By Peter Galuszka

Where’s the “Liberty” in Liberty University?

The Christian school founded by the controversial televangelist Jerry Falwell required students under threat of a $10 “fine” and other punishments to attend a “convocation” Monday where hard-right U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for president.

Thus, Liberty produced a throng of people, some 10,000 strong, to cheer on Cruz who wants to throttle Obamacare, gay marriage, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and blunt immigration reform.

Some students stood up to the school for forcing them to become political props. Some wore T-Shirts proclaiming their support of libertarian Rand Paul while others protested the university’s coercion. “I just think it’s unfair. I wouldn’t say it’s dishonest, but it’s approaching dishonesty,” Titus Folks, a Liberty student, told reporters.

University officials, including Jerry Falwell, the son of the late founder, claim they have the right as a private institution to require students to attend “convocations” when they say so. But it doesn’t give them the power to take away the political rights of individual students not to be human displays  in a big and perhaps false show.

There’s another odd issue here. While Liberty obviously supports hard right Tea Party types, the traditional Republican Party in the state is struggling financially.

Russ Moulton, a GOP activist who helped Dave Brat unseat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary last summer, has emailed party members begging them to come up with $30,000 to help the cash-strapped state party.

GOP party officials downplay the money problem, but it is abundantly clear that the struggles among Virginia Republicans are as stressed out as ever. Brat won in part because he cast himself as a Tea Party favorite painting Cantor as toady for big money interests. The upset drew national attention.

Liberty University has grown from a collection of mobile homes to a successful school, but it always has had the deal with the shadow of its founder. The Rev. Falwell gained notoriety over the years for putting segregationists on his television show and opposing gay rights, going so far as to claim that “Teletubbies,” a cartoon production for young children, covertly backed homosexual role models.

Years ago, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a story showing that the Rev. Falwell took liberties in promoting the school he founded in 1971. Brochures touting the school pictured a downtown Lynchburg bank building with the bank’s logo airbrushed off. This gave the impression that Liberty was thriving with stately miniature skyscrapers for its campus.

Some observers have noted that Liberty might be an appropriate place for the outspoken Cruz to launch his campaign. The setting tends to blunt the fact that he’s the product of an Ivy League education – something that might not go down too well with Tea Party types – and that he was actually born in Canada, although there is no question about his U.S. citizenship and eligibility to run for question.

Hard-line conservatives have questioned the eligibility of Barack Obama to run for U.S. president although he is likewise qualified.

With Cruz in the ring and Liberty cheering him, it will make for an interesting campaign.

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27 responses to “Cruz, “Liberty” and Teletubbies

  1. yes.. the IRONY of a conservative University named LIBERTY .. forcing all of it’s students to attend this wacko birds “announcement” is thick and rich!

    Cruz represents thinking about what many think is wrong with our governments – Federal, State and Local.

    it’s not that he represents a ton people who believe every loony idea he expresses but in each person there is a niche that Govt has gone too far.

    so that’s what powers him – and here’s the 64 dollar question – Is the GOP so desperate that if Cruz wins the nomination – that enough GOP in all those gerrymandered districts will turn out even if they have to hold their nose – not to elect him but to keep the Dem from being elected?

    Don’t laugh. Look around you – in Virginia and other states – the GOP holds a ton of the elected offices – and real wacko birds are actually Senators like Cruz… though in Virginia even though they don’t hold the Senate offices yet – look at how many Congressmen we have that show that the GOP WILL vote and the Dems will sit at home – no clearer example of that than Brat.

    and look at Virginia’s own General Assembly. It’s as GOP as you can get .. they turn down MedicAid expansion even when other GOP states took it. They kiss Dominions butt as many times as Dominion wants it kissed.. etc.

    So my bet is that Ted Cruz is going to force other GOP to go hard right to try to beat him and then they will utilize their gerrymandered districts to take both houses of Congress as well as the POTUS and if you think the GOP is wacko right now – wait til they own all 3 parts of government….

    Cruz fits right into that plan – he gives cover to others who are just shy of being as far right as him.

  2. Liberty’s academic rankings are among the worst in the state. Can we please stop calling it a success?

    • isn’t it a “success” in terms of selling it’s online ?

      and HEY – when it comes to Conservatives – their idea of “success” is money not performance (unless it’s to be used as a cudgel against public schools or govt)!

      besides – if you are a kid and you want to get a job with an elected wacko-bird in Congress – what better creds could you have?

      😉

    • Hmmm… I work in higher education and there is no data that supports your rhetoric. I would argue that there are faculty at Liberty that outshine most of their in-state counterparts. The students I’ve met there are at least the equal of those in my college.

  3. Jim bacons says it is a huge online success

  4. Actually a race for president between Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren would be darn entertaining. Remember the old phrase, “a choice, not an echo.” Both parties have candidates who give me pause. But then, they always have.

    Any student who signs up for Liberty thinking that he or she will be attending the usual lax and libertine American higher education establishment just didn’t read the material. I remember going through the gate 30 years ago in the middle of something of a police red alert, with guards scurrying, and I overheard a scanner announcement that a boy and girl had been seen going into the woods! Together! Sexual activity appeared imminent! It is a different place by design. The PARENTS love it, I suspect. This is the age of the helicopter parent.

    I am unaware of any statistics that would indicate its on campus academic performance places it among the worst in the state, and now it has an affiliated medical school. My personal GP left his practice to go teach there, and knowing him like I do the students will be well taught. Its gigantic online operation is another matter and the results there might be more checkered, as they are with other online operations.

    Back to Cruz: I well remember when Falwell Senior had Ted Kennedy visit the campus for a similar convocation, sending his jet up to DC to pick up the Senator. The students get a chance to hear from a range of people, and I’m fine with that. The coverage I saw made it abundantly clear Cruz was not being cheered by everybody in the hall.

    • re: ” Both parties have candidates who give me pause. But then, they always have.”

      are you saying the left has a deep bench like the right?

      The LAST GOP primary was infested with “999” wacko birds.. and Ann Coulter and other rabid right swore than if Romney got the nod – she vote the other side!

      the question is – who is to the right of Warren and who is to the left of Cruz?

      right?

  5. Weren’t the citizens of Germany similarly fined for not brandishing the Nazi flag during events in the Hitler years? This is what is truly scary about the Christian Right! They extol freedom and liberty, provided it’s their views you’re subscribing to, viewing those who hold positions outside of their realm as hedonistic infidels. It’s one thing to fine a student for urinating in the quad, but to require attendance in a “non-academic” event is about as dictatorial as it gets, regardless of whether it’s a public or private institution! Kudos to the students who showed up, yet stood up in protest (albeit in a very 21st century way).

    • Kind of reminds you of Barack Obama’s cogitations to the effect that all Americans ought to be forced to vote!

      Liberals think they’re scoring rhetorical brownie points when they point out the supposed discrepancy between the university’s name “Liberty” and its practice of requiring students to attend an event. The concept of “liberty” is so alien to their thinking that they don’t understand the difference between “liberty” and “libertine.”

      In the conservative mind, “liberty” is defined as freedom from government control and interference. Government possesses a monopoly on the use of legally sanctioned coercion, so “liberty” restricts the ability of government to impose its will upon the people. Liberty University exercises no monopoly of coercion. If students don’t like the way the university conducts itself, they are free to choose among hundreds of higher ed alternatives.

      Personally, I think Liberty’s policy of requiring student attendance is a little heavy handed. I would prefer a more open environment in which students have full freedom to exercise their conscience. Of course, compared to the heavy-handed tactics on far more “enlightened” secular universities, the transgressions upon individual conscience at Liberty seem pretty tame. Freedom of speech for dissenting viewpoints is under assault in mainstream academia. At least Liberty students politely receive speakers with different views, and the administration doesn’t impose politically correct speech codes.

      One more note: Nazis were national socialists. They worshiped the state. Modern-day leftists and liberals who want to re-engineer society and the economy according to their own preferences have far more in common with Nazis than evangelical Christians who wish o be left alone.

      • re: “liberty” you mean like telling people they cannot smoke week or get an abortion of married to the same sex or forced to sell their land to a private company .. THAT kind of “liberty”?

        🙂

        • First Larry, your argument has more weight when you post it in a way that makes sense. Secondly, you should read the statement that the school’s president released. The same rule will apply when Gov. Kaine speaks and it applied when Sen. Warner spoke. While we might not think it sounds fun or particularly inviting to require attendance at these functions (3 times a week) this is what has been done for years and every student enrolling knows this. As someone else pointed out, there were plenty in the crowd who disliked Cruz and they weren’t prohibited from displaying their leanings.

          • I will endeavor to do better on “making sense”. thank you.

            second – I do not think mandatory attendance is appropriate for ANY speaker.

            I think the whole idea of mandatory attendance at a University called “liberty” is asinine.

            I think Conservatives in general talk a big talk about liberty but when it comes right down to it – they really are more fascist in their values.

            they believe that people should act a certain way and have certain values and they are not very tolerant of those who do not conform to their way of thinking.

            you can have all the guns you want but God Forbid you become a homosexual.

          • Yes, I see the irony in the name, but I also know that there are other schools that have requirements that most would deem “over the top.” Add LU’s politics and I understand your angst. There are many more moderate conservatives at Liberty than there are rabid conservatives; blanket suggestions of fascist leanings or lack of tolerance… I find that ironic, as well. Certainly, you would not paint all conservatives with such a broad brush.

          • I think Conservatives would go ape-crap if it came to be that Hillary spoke at UCLA or Yale and students were ” required” to attend.

            Be honest… do you agree?

            when it comes to certain behaviors like smoking weed or homosexual behavior or forcing trans vaginal probes, immigration, – yes most Conservatives would “regulate” and force those things rather than support true “liberty”.

            this is aside from how you personally feel in terms of justification and whether you agree with justification – the facts are that Conservatives will use the force of govt to deny people certain activities that Conservatives justify as things that are “harmful” to society.

            Under Conservative governance we would have NEVER allowed same-sex marriage – right? how do you reconcile that position with “liberty”?

          • Sorry Larry, but I think you sound as rigid and judgemental as the right-wing wackos.

          • re: ” Sorry Larry, but I think you sound as rigid and judgemental as the right-wing wackos.

            when anyone finds himself standing so firmly on one’s perceived “principles” that hypocrisy is evident and pervasive, there is a problem …and I believe that regardless of political philosophy – all sides – the spectrum are guilty of it. My view is when there is hypocrisy in one’s position – you actually are dealing with truth about yourself… your own unyielding mindset.

            the key giveaway for judgmental me is whether or not someone believes the govt should impose the beliefs of those in charge or the will of those who are governed.

            when your principles become so rigid that compromise is not acceptable – then are you fit to govern others? When governing becomes imposing your beliefs on others instead of implementing the will of the governed – you’re pretty much done.

            so yes.. I guess I’m guilty as charged.

          • I doubt if we’ll see eye to eye on this, and I surely am not going to try to change your mind. Sorry for splitting the comment in two. My phone is not cooperating!

      • I DO think everyone should go to the polls. AS LONG AS ONE CAN CAST A BLANK BALLOT (as in – None of the above).

  6. How many are “some?”

    The vast majority showed up to learn about his positions. A small minority wore Rand Paul tee shirts. Keep spinning!

    • I would imagine if you took a poll of Liberty Universities students – they’d like other Conservatives also – besides just Cruz or Paul.

      Forcing them to go is the hypocrisy of the right on display.

  7. The problem with Cruz and his supporters is that they’re truly in denial like a lot of their buddies in Congress.

    They want to REPEAL Obamacare but they want to keep the taxes to spend on the military.
    they blather on and on about a balanced budget and now they want to increase military spending … “off budget”….

    they’re going to “cut” entitlements but they wont say which ones or how much – especially Medicare… they do remember those TeeParty signs that said “Keep your filthy govt hands off my Medicare”…

    and if they truly had a real pair of Conservative you know whats – they’d admit that employer-provided would also die if the govt got out of the rules of it. Same thing with the military. Why not pay soldiers the equivalent of TRICARE and let them go out into the free market to get health care for their families?

    The GOP has become the party of hypocrisy. They promote “values” but when you look closer – they are the party of deficit spending and tax breaks for the wealthy.

  8. If I recall correctly, Romney was featured at a ‘rally’ at Massey’s company where the employees were required to attend. Massey afterwards said that they did have the option not to attend (but at the implied threat of losing their livelihood).

    So, is this an example of Republican liberty? Do what I want or else?

    If not, why is there a pattern.

    And somehow, since this was a Republican event, I expect the number ’47’ to come into play, don’t you?

  9. You are thinking of MURRAY Energy. Massey Energy went out of existence the year before the 2012 campaign.
    Peter

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