“I heard there might be protests, if there are, then turn to them and start filming.”
“Ok”, I said as I went to my camera bag and grabbed my 40mm, while thinking to myself “I’m not a videographer, but by all means if something comes up, then I’ll do my best to get it.”
This was part of my introduction to Ms. Kassy Dillon. A girl that I’d been following on Twitter for nearly a year now and came across her after what became known as “Trigglypuff” and Milo Yiannopoulos.
She was in Westminster giving a speech on Campus Conservatism and she spoke to a pretty full house (much to our surprise).
As for the speech itself, it was enjoyable; however, I was left with one question at the end of the day: “Who was the target?”
What I mean is, during the speech, it seemed that Ms. Dillon flipped back and forth between targeting a general audience and potential on campus conservatives. It was by no means incoherent, but my advice would be to pick a topic an audience and stay with them.
Kellogg Community College having Shelby Gregoire arrested for distributing the Constitution on campus. This is an issue that should appall all members of the public (left and right) and it shows how such a “conservative” act is being repressed on campus.
Then later on, she advertises for her website and encourages students to be active politically while in college.
In that example, it is really minor; however, while in attendance it felt like there were two distinct audiences being talked to.
The speech was prepared and that is my biggest complaint on it. If you want, you may watch or read the speech at the bottom.
Where things really got good and where I want to focus on was during the Q&A, as this shows me what a speaker truly believes and how they can act on the fly.
A question that reached out to me was by a Palestinian student who expressed her concern about reaching out to the other side when President Trump is trying to implement a travel ban.
Kassy’s response was to insert a human element into the conversation. She said that if the ban were permanent that she’d be opposed to it. Saying, in quote, “But some people aren’t looking at how it actually affects people.” and that “Even the right is not united on it”.
This is something that I happen to agree with. I’m very fortunate that I go to school where I do. There are a lot of Middle Eastern students my graduate program and I’ve gotten to know them personally. I can say that these people are the smart men and women we need working to make the country the best it can be. And yes, I’ve met many an Iranian student and they are some of the hardest and smartest people you’ll ever meet.
My take away from working with the Iranians is that they know what is going on in their country and they want to leave. Iran has a huge brain drain.
Another question (to which Kassy was well prepared for) dealt with the Alt-Right:
“You said that conservatism was being co-opted by certain movements, but what do you recommend conservatives do to deal with that?”
To which Ms. Dillon breaks the Alt-Right into three distinct subcatagories:
- Alt-Right: The neo-Nazis, white nationalists, the people that openly say, “I support a white ethno-state.”
- Alt-Lite: People who preach “Westernism“, but you’ll also hear a lot of anti-Islam in it. They don’t explicitly say they’re white nationalists, but sometimes they may have other terms for it. Examples include Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich, Paul Joseph Watson, and occasionally Alex Jones.
- New Right: These people are what were formally called “Reagan Democrats”. The blue-collar men and women who have typically vote Democrat (or are apolitical), but instead are “Republican only for Trump” (in this case).
When talking to her after the speech, she seemed excited to be able to distance herself from the alt-right. I think that the reason why, is that she believes the media has properly co-oped all of conservatism with the alt-right. Make no doubt that there are several pundits who have, but even Hillary Clinton has noted that the alt-right is a corruption of conservatism:
This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism as we have know it. These are race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman –– all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’
It is important to note that she was separating conservatism from alt-right while still attacking Donald Trump.
This is of course interesting, considering how she is the victim of a “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”, to turn around and see her offer a little defense to her political opponents, but it does show how even she thinks that there is a difference between the two.
What was very strange was a question in regards to biological differences between races. This came from a Nepalese student who I think might have been trying to tick her; however, his question about what can effectively be described as “pro-eugenics” stuck me with great concern. The full exchange is:
Student: Like you said, I was actually very disappointed with what happened at Middlebury College in regards to you know like, beating up the professor and Charles Murray. What’s your opinion on the works on Charles Murray?
Kassy: Yeah, so I haven’t read The Bell Curve. It’s called The Bell Curve if you guys are ever interested in reading his ideas. I don’t agree with it necessarily, I think that nature vs. nurture argument; you can’t prove either. I think it’s just a wide thesis that he had out there. So I don’t necessarily agree with him but I haven’t read the entire book so I probably should do that. But, if you really disagree with him, go challenge him. Like for instance, Linda Sarsour is coming to my college this year. I am not a fan of Linda Sarsour, at all. Anyone familiar with Linda Sarsour? Organizer of the Women’s March? She’s Palestinian, and she told another Muslim woman who had FGM, told her that she didn’t deserve a vagina. She’s coming to my school, and I’m not going to protest it. I’m not going to organize against it. I am going to go there and ask her a question. I am going to challenge her. I want her to answer something that I’m asking her. Usually she speaks to crowds that are liberal, people ask her questions that are easy. I want to ask her a hard question. So I think if someone went to a Charles Murray speech, and asked him a hard question, that would be more productive than shutting him down because if you shut him down, you’re giving him so much of a platform.
Same student follow up: So let’s say what if there is a biological difference in our intelligence, I think we have to take a moral stance because let’s say, whatever the case, like in a good society people shouldn’t have to get shot by the police just because of their skin color or because someone makes an assumption off them based on where they live. So I think at some point, we have to make a moral judgement [sic] about what we do. So what moral judgement [sic] would you make? Like if there’s research, let’s say, that people from Nepal have a really low IQ, so does that mean we can’t exist together in society?
Kassy: I would take a moral stance by trying to critique his research, because he did research this he didn’t pull it out of nowhere. I’d critique his research and tell him I don’t agree with it. I think that’s what you should do. There are actually so many books that are refuting what he said, and I think that’s actually important to read.
My advise and response to the student would have been that you determine your own worth, not your genetics. There are very smart people of all races, nationalities, and creeds — just like there are dumb people under the same categories. However, that discussion could very easily take a religious turn..
That said, I think Kassy is in a very good place right now. I think that if she can fix that minor issue, then I think she’ll have a long speaking career ahead of her. I think that she handled herself very professionally and I look forward to watching her continue to develop as a speaker.