Student Groups Defend Actions
Kristen Lucero, fourth-year political science major and president of the College Republicans
New University: Why did you decide to show these cartoons at your event? What did you intend to accomplish that you could not accomplish just by describing the cartoons?
Lucero: The purpose of our panel was an educational forum for open debate and discussion, and one of the things we were going to touch on was the controversial cartoons alongside with anti-Western and anti-Muslim [sic] cartoons, and in order to have the full impact for our program, we thought that we’d display the cartoons.
New University: The representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that he would not attend the event if the cartoons were shown. Why did you determine that showing them was more important than having him on the panel?
Lucero: The representative from CAIR was invited long before the cartoons were ever intended to be shown, and he declined long before. He already boycotted our event, even before the cartoons were already a factor.
New University: Did he give you a reason for why he declined?
Lucero: He just said that they’ve got plenty of their own programs and they don’t need ours. Basically, they have their own.
New University: The cartoons were a late addition to the planned panel discussion. Is that correct?
Lucero: They were an added addition, yeah.
New University: Do you regret that the showing of the cartoons came to overshadow the event itself? Do you think that showing the cartoons strengthened or subverted your intended goal?
Lucero: Our panel accomplished exactly the goals that we wanted to accomplish. They didn’t take away from our event. The people inside the discussion were still able to have their open forum and the discussion. So therefore, the cartoons didn’t take away anything.
New University: Why did you choose to show only three of the Danish cartoons, including the two that were, arguably, the most demeaning toward Mohammed? If your intent was to provoke discussion through the dissemination of information, why did you choose not to make available all of the cartoons for viewing?
Lucero: We only had a limited time, so we wanted to show an equal number. We had chosen three. Three from the controversial Muslim cartoons and also three that fall under the anti-Semitic, anti-Western category. We only had a specified amount of time, so we had to narrow it down, and choose the cartoons that we felt would help facilitate our debate in the best manner.
New University: Was there any internal conflict within the College Republicans regarding this event in general, the showing of the cartoons, or the inclusion of the United American Committee as a cosponsor?
Lucero: This event was planned months in advance. Everything was decided on in a unanimous basis, and not until perhaps the day of or the night before did any sort of internal conflict arise, and that only arose out of fear and pressure. Some members of the club felt threatened. Other members of the club were feeling too much pressure from external forces, so without that, we were unanimous and then because of the possible threat, basically fears for the safety of our individual members, there became