Boulder protests Coulter’s hate

April 5, 2018

Richard Folsom reports from Boulder, Colorado, where activists organized a counterprotest of right-wing pundit Ann Coulter.

WHEN THE University of Colorado Boulder (CU) chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) announced it was bringing right-wing commentator Ann Coulter to speak on campus on March 21, anti-racist groups on campus went into action to organize a respond.

Ann Coulter is well-known for targeting immigrants, Blacks and other groups with the aim of whipping up racism and giving confidence to the right. She has in past speeches called Islam a "car-burning cult" and Muslims "ragheads," and talked about the "dangers" of liberalism, feminism and the left.

Responding to Coulter's invitation on campus, CU's Muslim Student Association (MSA) President Heraa Hashmi told the CU Independent that they were saddened by Coulter's invitation to speak on campus, but didn't think that the event should be cancelled.

Victoria Dadet, co-president of the Black Student Alliance agreed, saying, "While she does have a right to speak here, we also have a right to protest her hate speech."

This isn't the first time that TPUSA has invited a racist speaker on campus. Last spring, the group invited alt-right blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, a former writer and editor for the right-wing Breitbart News.

Students protest right-wing speaker Ann Coulter at the University of Colorado Boulder
Students protest right-wing speaker Ann Coulter at the University of Colorado Boulder (Bri Barnum | CU Independent)

During Yiannopoulos' visit to CU, students protested his racism and the hypocrisy of his claim of upholding "free speech" to spread his racist and divisive ideas.

TPUSA's organizing on campus is encouraged by the fact that Republican CU Regent Heidi Ganahl is making steps to change university policy in the interest of "free speech" and make more conservative voices welcome on this traditionally liberal campus.

"I'm doing this in response to hundreds of conversations I've had with students over the last year who lean conservative or libertarian and just don't feel comfortable expressing themselves," Ganahl said.

But many students see the appearance of racist scapegoaters like Turning Point USA and Ann Coulter differently, and made their voices heard on March 21.

WHEN STUDENTS found out that Coulter was speaking, members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Black Student Alliance (BSA), The Collective, UMAS y MEXA and the International Socialist Organization came together to call for a silent walkout during Coulter's speech at the Chemistry building.

To get into the event, attendees had to go through metal detectors while security perched on rooftops to keep an eye on opponents of Coulter.

Outside the building, different campus groups made up a contingent to protest. The International Marxist Tendency and the Young Democratic Socialists of America also joined the protest and tabling, with the latter collecting toiletries for the homeless.

At the start of the event, a TPUSA representative cued the pledge of allegiance, and most of the people in the room stood up. At that point, it became clear who was there to protest the event, as a group of us stayed seated.

As the room stood up for the pledge, people across the aisles remarked to those who were seated, "This is America" and "If you don't like America, then leave." One person with American flag shorts looked in anger across the aisle, emphasizing the "under god" portion of the pledge.

While Coulter was spewing hate about Muslims and immigrants, our anti-racist contingent decided to walk out. As we were walking out, the crowd booed and started chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

When we went outside, we were warmly greeted by another contingent of protesters, who started chanting "Safe schools are our right, not just for the rich and white."

"We're here to symbolize that free speech does not equal hate speech," protester Percy Suchanek told the CU Independent. "Ann Coulter just spreads hate speech and we don't feel safe having her on our campus."

Elizabeth Schulte contributed to this article.

Further Reading

From the archives