Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Open Letter to the NMSU Community

To the NMSU Community

I would like to bring to the attention of the NMSU community a dangerous and frightening trend that has been building within the organization of the NMSU College Republicans and within the Republican community at large in Dona Ana County. First of all, several months ago the Dona Ana County Republican Party (and more recently the NMSU College Republicans) elected to officially endorse the Minutemen as a means to police our borders and to ensure "homeland security". These are both extremely suspicious justifications given that we already have a government funded and operated organization policing the borders and that, historically speaking, none of the people who have carried out acts of terrorism have gained access to the United States by sneaking across the U.S.-Mexico border. Not to mention that, if they are truly interested in securing our borders from terrorists, they seem to spend little time on the much more extensive border to the north as well as our extensive coastlines, all of which seem just as vulnerable or likely to be used by terrorists attempting to sneak into our country. But I digress.

Another worrisome development within the local chapter of College Republicans is their stated intention to collect and publish the names and contact information of professors at NMSU whom they feel are too liberal or are using their classrooms as a bully pulpit from which to preach their leftist ideologies and to indoctrinate students. If carried out, this will be a blatant attack on the intellectual freedom afforded to all members of the NMSU community and can be seen only as an attempt to stifle opinions with which the College Republicans disagree.
While these are just two examples of the sorts of policies currently being considered by the NMSU College Republicans it is obvious, upon reflection, to see why such policies are dangerous and why we should be concerned about the proliferation of such ideas at NMSU. It was just these types of policies that led to atrocities like the holocaust of WWII and the murder of thousands of dissident students and educators in Argentina during the so-called "Dirty War", to name a few examples.

Given the nature of my letter I am sure that I will receive angry rebuttals and denials of the above stated allegations. However, the reason I decided to write this letter is because the NMSU College Republicans have now moved beyond mere rhetoric and vocal support of such policies and are now actively participating in stifling opposing opinions and expelling members from their group on the grounds of race. On the evening of Monday, November 7, 2005 all three of the Hispanic officers of NMSU College Republicans were impeached. For several reasons I believe that they were impeached illegitimately.

First of all, the impeachments themselves were not enacted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order (the instruction guide for parliamentary procedure used by all NMSU organizations in the conduct of meetings). Robert's Rules of Order requires that any officer being impeached must be given prior notification of the intent to impeach, they must be presented with specific charges against them, and it requires a two-thirds vote for impeachment of all present, voting group members. The three impeached officers where never given notification of the intent impeach, but rather were subjected to an on the spot, up or down vote at the meeting. They were never given any reason for their impeachment, and the attending members voting for impeachment failed to meet the two-thirds requirement. But this is the least of the problems with the way in which these impeachments were carried out.

Second, the officers were not impeached on the grounds that they had in some way violated the charter of NMSU College Republicans, nor had they violated any local, state, or federal law. The call for impeachment was made when the two impeached officers who were in attendance refused to support an official endorsement of the Minutemen by NMSU College Republicans. In other words, the impeachment was used as a means of silencing opposition within the organization, which, as far as I can tell, is a blatant violation of the two dissenting officers' constitutional protection of free speech.

Finally, for a couple of different reasons I believe that the impeachments were racially motivated. First of all, the two impeached officers who were attending the meeting were subjected to personal attacks prior to the motions for impeachment. The legitimacy of their own citizenship was called into question as well as that of their families. They were also ridiculed and questioned about their religious and cultural beliefs. It should be noted that all three of the officers are natural born citizens of the United States. Another reason for believing that the impeachments were racially motivated is that one of the officers who was impeached was not even at the meeting. He was impeached on the basis of his ethnicity alone.

To many of you it may not come as much of a surprise that these sorts of actions would be perpetrated by Republicans. Many feel (myself included) that covert racism and overt anti-intellectualism have been staples of the Republican institution for decades. Some of you may be wondering why we should care what the Republican party does to its own members or why we should not just let them destroy themselves from the inside, given that that seems to be what is happening. My argument is that the political affiliation of those who have endured these injustices is irrelevant. It is exactly the indiscriminant nature of their actions that should give us the most cause for concern. The attacks against the three members of College Republicans were of a very personal and intentionally hurtful nature. They were singled out because of their ethnicity and were subjected to ridicule and were made to feel like pariahs within their own group. Since the impeachments the NMSU College Republicans have attempted to cover up their misdeeds. At the behest of the chairman of the Federation of New Mexico College Republicans (who obviously realized the gravity of their error) they have attempted to rescind the impeachments, not because they have had a sudden change of opinion about Hispanics but rather in an attempt to avoid any controversy. But the damage has been done. Even if the impeachments are rescinded the three impeached members will never feel respected as full members of the organization. They will be afraid to dissent on any matter, big or small, because a clear message has been sent about how dissenters will be dealt with. It has been made clear by their actions that Hispanics and anyone else who dissents from the majority opinion of the NMSU College Republicans will be chastised, ridiculed, and driven out of the organization. They have also shown that they will suppress opposition in any way possible, even if it means violating the rights of those with opposing opinions.

Upon writing this I am reminded of one of the most horrific moments in Saddam Hussein's rule of Iraq. In one of his first party meetings as the undisputed leader of Iraq, Hussein called out the names of people within his own party who had vocally opposed his policies and had them escorted out of the building by the police. Many of these people were never seen nor heard from again and I can only imagine what became of them. We should also keep in mind that these actions represent a direct and open attack on some of the very principles upon which our nation was founded, namely our First Amendment protection of Free Speech, a respect for the rule of law, and a respect for diversity within our nation's institutions. As citizens who enjoy and respect such rights and principles we have an obligation to defend and protect them and to oppose any such violations, regardless of the affiliations of those who these violations are perpetrated against.

So what is the goal of all of this? Am I suggesting that the College Republicans be disbanded? No. Am I suggesting that we run the Republicans off of our campus and out of town? No. It would be hypocritical to argue that they not be allowed to hold or espouse whatever views they want. However, they should not be allowed to act on their beliefs if, in doing so, the end result is a violation of people's rights. What I am suggesting is that we as a community speak up and make it known that, while we respect their right to espouse whatever belief they may have regardless of how misguided we may think it is, we will neither tolerate nor condone any action that violates the above mentioned principles or any of the other basic rights and principles that we afford all people.


Jason Wyatt
Undergraduate, Senior, Dept. of Psychology


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