Claremont's Kabuki Theatre of Violence
How Our Administration Handles Threats on Campus
By: Charles Johnson
Posted: 4/12/11When speaking about violence on campus, two scenes may be illustrative: one involving Michael Wilner CMC '11 and another, a faculty meeting.
Michael Wilner CMC '11 is the past editor of The CMC Forum. He's also written for the Claremont Port Side, where he served as an editor and publisher, and The Claremont Independent, which later fired him for being too cozy with President Gann. At The Forum, that coziness with Gann served Wilner well, often helping him to land exclusive interviews with Ath speakers. It even, by his own admission in CMC Magazine, landed him a summer job at CNN where he worked alongside David Doss CMC '75 on the Anderson Cooper show. The summer before that, he worked for the Strait Times, where, he received a prestigious McKenna International Award and stipend. Not bad work - if you can get it - which you can't if you don't give favorable coverage to President Pamela Gann.
Now it apparently serves him even better. On February 28 Wilner assaulted Sasha Farina CMC '11 at the White Party. Farina was, like most of the campus, trying to have a good time with her boyfriend. Wilner wanted her spot on the dance floor; she politely refused. Then, according to a police report, Wilner struck Farina at least four times in the head.
Wilner, unfortunately, has a history of drunk and disorderly conduct and has even been arrested for it on Halloween past. Bail for that incident, was set at $10,000 - a shockingly high amount for a supposedly first time offense. He also has a total disregard for other students as a 2008 letter to Ethan Andyshak (formerly Dean of Housing) by his floor mates makes clear. He apparently stared down another student and threatened him when that student refused to leave the common area where he and his friends had been playing videogames. They, too, refused to give up their spot and Wilner turned abusive, though fortunately only verbally. The students co-signed a letter to Ethan Andyshak that was apparently ignored, despite the real threat Wilner's behavior presented. "Suffice it to say," the students wrote in 2008, "that Michael believes that he can do whatever he wants no matter what, when, and where, with absolutely zero regard for the wishes and concerns of his floormates, makes the current living situation very tense."
When all of this was made known on the Claremont Conservative, Wilner's anonymous defenders quickly sprang forth in the comment section, claiming that Farina was on drugs - she wasn't - and that she even worked as a stripper at a bar - she didn't. This kind of character assassination is par for the course for public figures on campus, like yours truly, who has, in recent months been accused of many things and convicted of none. But the attacks on Farina were so baseless, so lacking in merit, that it was clear what Wilner's defenders were trying to upend the whole process of making Wilner's alleged criminal assault known to the public. They desperately wanted to talk about something else, but so far have failed. Despite concern raised from alumni - the story has received over 5,000 views on the Claremont Conservative website - Wilner received yet another favor from President Gann. He got to go on a school-funded trip to Kuwait University on March break after all of these revelations came to light. Wilner's J-Board trial is set for April 1, 2011 - fully a month after the alleged assault took place.
As per usual, Gann is silent about why, despite alumni having written letters to her and other administrators. She was also silent about Bassam Frangieh, who took Wilner, and a selected group of students, on that trip. Gann's hiring of Frangieh has proved embarrassing for the school because he is a vocal supporter of Hezbollah, Hamas, and suicide bombing that she failed to vet prior to hiring, despite promising that she would vet all new hires in the wake of the Kerri Dunn incident, when an assistant professor of psychology vandalized her own car in a fake hate crime and caused much distress when she suggested that conservative students were the culprit.
In the wake of this magazine having made Professor Frangieh's terrorist sympathies well known, the faculty was in an uproar when, spurred on by a letter from a Mr. "Don Laird" of Alberta, it realized the national attention that Frangieh's views had received. Ostensibly worried about violence - Laird dumbly claimed that the college's response to Frangieh's views was akin to that of the military's about the Ft. Hoot shooter - the campus was swarming with hired rental law-enforcement after a rushed, closed "executive session" was called. Nary was a word about it sent to the students who had no idea why there were so many people with guns on campus.
It appears - no one in the administration will speak about it on record - that the college, reading Laird's letter, which had sent out to as many email addresses as he could find, worried about violence and so wanted to affirm Frangieh's speech rights under the school's diversity policy. Despite lacking more than half of the faculty, its members issued a resolution defending Frangieh and, sub silentio, condemning this publication for making Frangieh's pro-terrorism views known. Professors Hurley and Haley accused The Claremont Independent of slandering Frangieh - a transparently false charge especially as they have never documented a single instance of it. This whole charade was a rather odd thing, given how quick the college is to tell us about threats on and off campus and that the college defending Frangieh under its diversity statement, given his rejection of diversity for calling for a boycott of all Israelis. But this was, of course, Kabuki Theater and they couldn't let the truth get in the way of the hyper stylized narrative they were performing - much as Gann allowed a rally against hate against Dunn's fictitious tormentors while knowing all the while that there was no hate crime.
To be sure, Laird is a nut - he actually believes that Frangieh might "start slaughtering [his] peers" - but despite my having exhaustively checked, there is no evidence that Mr. Laird has ever been violent. On the contrary, Mr. Laird has served his nation honorably as a Canadian Mounty. He is entitled to his speech, despite my having condemned it for the histrionics that it is elsewhere. By contrast, Wilner is a well connected and violent student with a golden resume, who goes on trips with a professor who calls for violence against Israelis and supports two terrorist organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas.
The violence done to our campus life and discourse is great, indeed. Only at Claremont would we condemn Laird - thousands of miles away in a foreign country -- but ignore Wilner and Frangieh, who walk among us.
Note: This piece was written before Wilner's J-Board trial.