AARON SKUBBY, Editor-in-Chief—The Denison College Republicans hosted a Zoom webinar with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as part of the 2021 Ohio College Republican Federation Convention.
“Pompeo was chosen because he is an extremely high profile conservative with a great deal of expertise in foreign policy and American politics. Additionally, he is a former high ranking government official which was a privilege to have on campus,” DCR President Stewart Moore ‘22 said.
Other speakers at the event, which was held at noon on March 20, included Governor Mike DeWine, Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Jane Timken, and author J.D. Vance. However, “the only cost incurred by the school was Mr. Pompeo,” Moore specified.
The Denison College Republicans did not specify how much was paid to Pompeo. The club was granted $40,599.27 for an annual speaker by the Denison Campus Governance
As soon as Pompeo’s speech was announced, many Denison students were critical of the event on social media.
Farah Farah ‘22 made an Instagram post that said “It doesn’t go beyond me that Denison’s ‘commitment’ to anti-racism coincides with the same semester College Republicans want to host a shameless explicitly fascist Secretary of State, and spending student money to do so. At what point is the hypocrisy going to stop? We should never expect this school to listen to its students of color and expect their neoliberal co-opting of radical academic and activist work to produce substantive change. White supremacy continues uninterrupted, and hosting Pompeo is, without question, an embodiment of this institutional disregard.”
The event was announced only the day prior to occurring, which Moore says was due to “a number of logistical issues with getting Pompeo planned and approved during our reallocation process for this semester. I had hoped that our organization would have had more time to advertise but that wasn’t the reality of the situation.”
During the presentation, which was a “webinar” style Zoom call, Pompeo talked about his experiences in foreign policy as well as his beliefs on domestic politics, with time to answer questions. Pompeo spoke of his experiences working in North Korea, Israel, and Vietnam, among others. Some students asked questions about cyber security and the growing influence of Russia in Europe.
Much of Pompeo’s discussion of domestic politics was prompted by a student submitted question, which was read by Moore. “We have a lot of issues on campus with identity politics being weaponized against conservatives. Why is this ideology around purely identity a dangerous thing not only for the United states but really for the world?”, the question asked.
Pompeo spoke against movements for racial justice such as the 1619 Project and the Black Lives Matter movement. “The 1619 project is all wet, we didn’t have this founding based on something that was racist,” he said. “We had a founding that was based on traditional Judeo-Christian values.”
Pompeo also implied that the Chinese government was involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. “We know that there aren’t differences between whites and blacks, but when you take an organization that uses that name Black Lives Matter as cover, that is deeply marxist, then the marxists in China are going to dig on that,” he said.
Pompeo talked too about what he perceives as the
challenges facing young conservatives, particularly on college campuses. “I know there’s times that it can be difficult. I know who occupies the
faculty positions at so many of our campuses across America,” he said. Pompeo encouraged young conservatives to be “pipe hitters,” and fight for conservative values across America.
Farah continued to express his issues with Pompeo being hosted by Denison.
“I don’t put it past the College Republicans to have the inability to empathize or perceive how students on campus may feel to their actions and sponsorships; an organization of majority white men draped in their racial, gender and socioeconomic privilege where they have no incentive to serve or support a greater Denison community,” he said.
“Mind the fact that he served as the CIA director, an organization bent to destroy the Global South or that he served under Trump, an unabashed fascist, Pompeo is on the record describing ‘multiculturalism’ as the antithesis to the United States,” Farah continued.
“How can you host an ‘anti-racism’ task force while allowing a demagogue’s right hand man to be invited to campus? Denison cannot have it both ways and allowing the track record of Republicans to continue uninterrupted proves how empty the platitudes are to the Denison community,” Farah said.