Republicans Bringing Anti-Islam Speaker to Campus

The Amherst College Republicans are holding a forum on Wednesday featuring conservative radio pundit Michael Graham. The forum will deal with “Why US Military Action After 9/11 Was Justified and Saved American Lives,” and will be in Stirn Auditorium at 6:30 PM, according to publicity information.

The speaker, Graham, has brushed with controversy in the past. He began his career as a comedian before joining Republican Pat Buchanan’s failed primary bid in 1992. Over the next six years, Graham worked as full-time as a GOP consultant on a range of unsuccessful campaigns across the nation.

Since then, he has been a conservative radio show host, operating around the country for a variety of stations. Graham’s most famous gaffes have come during this period. After the 1999 Columbine school shooting, he said that the fact that athletes were killed was a “minor benefit.” He was fired and later apologized for these comments.

In 2005, Graham was fired again after engaging in an anti-Islam rant on-air and refusing to later apologize. He said that “moderate Muslims are those who only want to kill Jews,” that “the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam,” and, 23 times, “Islam is a terrorist organization.”

Graham’s employer, Washington-based WMAL, said at the time that “this isn’t the first time that he has been reprimanded for insensitive language and comments.”

Indeed, the previous year Graham had said on-air about “Islamists,” “I don’t wanna say we should kill ’em all, but unless there’s reform, there aren’t a lot of other solutions that work in the ground struggle for survival.”

Graham will be speaking about US military interventions after 9/11. He has a bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University but it is not clear what other credentials – besides his consulting on unsuccessful campaigns and hosting talk shows – qualify him to speak on the issue.

UPDATE: An Amherst College Republicans e-board member responded with the following statement:

“Our initial proposal for this event was to hold a discussion based forum consisting of ex-military personnel or others with personal experience in the post-9/11 military interventions in addition to Graham, in order to provide more credibility and perspectives through a variety of backgrounds. We aimed to share different opinions on American foreign apolicy and offer an environment that would challenge the way we look at related issues. At the moment plans have fallen through to provide additional speakers, but we still hope to host this discussion in the future if this coming Wednesday does not end up being the right day to do so.”