Since yesterday, the situation involving the Winter Soldiers, the College Republicans, Karen Porter, the Chester County Victory Movement, and others has clarified somewhat. As it turns out, unsurprisingly, there has been a series of misfires, miscommunications, misinterprations, and misinformation.
When I first heard about Karen Porter’s disinvitation from the Winter Soldiers panel, my suspicion was that some combination of the CCVM, the Gathering of Eagles, and/or Students for Academic Freedom were involved. Why would I think that? Because this kind of move is precisely their style, and because language in the disinvitation letter sounded like it came straight out of their talking points. I’m still suspicious that some of their folks were involved in this. However, after a conversation with the President of the WCU College Republicans last night, I no longer believe that his organization was a conduit (or a motivating force) for the decision.
The CR President convinced me that he had nothing to do with disinviting Karen, and given his almost brutal candor about other things, I have no reason to disbelieve him. I don’t exactly believe his representation of the discussions he had with the Contemporary Issues folks, although I don’t think he’s lying. I believe he heard what he wanted to hear. He told me that the CI organizers had initially been quite honest about their agenda, which was (as the CR President put it) to promote the soon-to-be-released Winter Soldiers 2 movie. The problem, of course, is that WS2 is still in production and won’t be out for months at best. He also is convinced that CI scheduled the movie and the panel the day before his group’s “Support the Troops” rally on purpose. They might have, although the CI organizer I’ve been talking to swears this is a coincidence. It’s neither here nor there, actually, because the CR President believed it, and that set him off. If I had to guess, and it’s only a guess, his conclusion that CI was pushing an anti-war agenda against his group prompted him to misunderstand CI’s explanations of the situation.
The representative from CI made clear (clear enough to me, anyway) that: (1) they’d decided to do this event before they knew about “Support the troops”; (2) the second Winter Soldiers movie had nothing to do with their decision to show the first one; (3) my understanding that outside interests had gone to the “administration” was incorrect–they went to Steve McKiernan, but not to the university president or the provost or any of the veeps (which is what I think when I hear “administration”). As a result, my assumption that outsiders were leapfrogging the students and faculty in order to put pressure on the administration to short-circuit an “anti-war” event was wrong.
I still believe that outsiders have stuck their collective noses where they don’t belong, but the evidence for that is less clear than I’d like it to be.
In the meantime, the event is happening on schedule, as is the “Support the Troops” rally the next day. Both promise to be contentious, largely because the issue itself is contentious. I expect the hangover from this series of miscommunications to rear its head at one or both events. Probably not a bad thing if the conservatives have to defend themselves from charges of tampering with the Winter Soldiers event–they’re really good at putting us lefties on the defensive, and some turnabout is long overdue. I don’t want anybody to lie in order to make that happen, though. That’s not good democracy anymore than manipulating evidence is.