There is a disturbing irony in ASUW spending thousands of dollars to pay a multi-millionaire to come to campus for the purpose of a planned speech railing against the selfishness of a different ideology. Indeed, the irony extends into hypocrisy when considered in light of recent debates (for lack of a better word) about free speech on campus.
Can we be honest about the real intent here? This event has been organized in large part by Turning Point USA, a supposedly nonpartisan group that claims “fiscal responsibility” as a core value.
It is difficult, to say the least, to decipher what is fiscally responsible about spending this amount of money for a performance by Dennis Prager. But this event is not about fiscal responsibility at all. It is no secret that Turning Point USA is the same group responsible for the creation of the “Professor Watchlist,” a register intended to promote the neo-McCarthyist surveillance and, by extension, intimidation of certain kinds of free speech — meaning speech it deems offensive — on campuses across the United States.
The decision to pay Prager to speak at UW only serves to further this effort and the misinformed hostility on which it thrives. It is no accident that Prager was chosen for this, nor is it surprising that his brand has exaggerated the risk of the protests planned in response to his paid performance on campus. This is a man who, among his many public statements, has referred to professors as useless cowards and decried “the university” as a “particularly cowardly place” yet simultaneously condemns and dismisses protestors as riotous mobs.
This begs questions about the intent behind this event and suggests his performance is intended not to further free speech or promote meaningful dialogue, but to foster dissent and further enrich a select few, including himself, whose success and relevance depend on hostility, be it real or imagined.