The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News October 14, 2005

Author rips Obies and Clintons
Gary Aldrich: The man who survived Clinton survived his talk in Oberlin as well, despite attacking Obie culture.

The first nationally recognized speaker that the Oberlin College Republicans brought to campus this year attracted a bigger audience than their president Bary Garret had hoped for, along with significant controversy.

Gary Aldrich, a retired FBI agent, wrote the bestselling book Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House, exposing what Aldrich called “the collapse in national security” under former president Bill Clinton.

“In my brief experience in political battles in Washington, D.C.,” began Aldrich, “I’ve learned there are three types of people.”

He stated these groups to be the ones who “believe they can make change happen...[those] who believe nothing they will do will make anything happen...and those who look around and wonder, ‘What happened?’”

Aldrich identified himself with the first group and continued with this theme of personal activism throughout his talk. He described himself as somewhat apolitical in his early career.

“Really, I didn’t know why I was registered as a Republican,” he said. “I even had to be reminded to vote.” 

He was taken by surprise then, when, after his book was published in 1996, he was called “very political... a political plant.”

After his transfer to Washington, D.C. in 1985, Aldrich was put to work doing background checks and investigations of nominees to high government positions. This work seemed “rather boring” to him, but he soon found himself meeting with politicians in a context that “began to restore my faith in the political process.” He did, however notice one major difference between the two parties.

“When I went into the offices of Republican officeholders I found them and their staff to be very accommodating,” he said. “Contrast that with staff members and congressmen on the left. They were hostile, quite put out that I would want them to cooperate with me.”

Aldrich served in this capacity under both the H. W. Bush and the Clinton administrations, but it was during the Clinton years that he felt new ideologies really began to threaten national security.

“When Clinton came to town, the whole system collapsed,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich didn’t go into specifics about these ideologies, but he did say he was “quite shocked and amazed” by what he saw.

“This wasn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat, or even about being a conservative or a liberal,” he said. “This was really about a political ideology I found scary.”

After that, he focused on the specific situation on America’s college campuses. He expressed distress over what he called “one-party colleges.” According to Aldrich, groups across the nation similar to Oberlin’s College Republicans “were told to shut up, [or] denied the ability to form up in the first place. [Meanwhile] all wacky liberal groups are rubber-stamped and funded by the administration.”

He cited the example of the time he was invited to speak at the Columbia School of Journalism, and posters announcing the event were torn down in plain view by “radicals.”

Aldrich founded the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty in 1998, a group that promotes specifically First and Second Amendment rights.

“We helped a lot of whistleblowers,” he said, referring to people like himself who spoke out on a national level, but he realized the group “could take this message to college campuses.”

The essence of this message is that the protections guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are not superceded by any other policies.

“[The administration] have books that spell out behavior,” said Aldrich, “but rules you have as an American citizen, you don’t give them up when you come here.”

He was growing noticeably more emotional as he talked.

“Students have a right to have their speakers, to have meetings, the right to receive funding,” Aldrich said. According to him, in the case of obstructions of these rights, “the university has an obligation to find out who’s denying your free speech rights and make them stop.”

Aldrich had harsh criticism for Oberlin’s famous Safer Sex Night, especially the “Tent of Consent.”

“You can see how ridiculous this is,” he said, “It makes you a laughingstock.” He also called the event “outrageous,” “childish,” “dangerous” and “a sexual circus” born out of a “desire to shock, to get more attention.”

Aldrich characterized the event as “what can happen on a college campus if everyone acquiesces.” But he encouraged the audience to take a stand on this issue.

“If you feel you have been outraged you have every right as a citizen of this country and a member of the College to protest. You will not be seen as old fashioned or prudish if you ask for a little decency.”

Aldrich’s censure of Oberlin didn’t end at Safer Sex Night.

“You are one of the most liberal campuses,” he said, “but where are your blacks?”  

On a positive note, Aldrich allowed that for a campus renowned for its liberal radicalism, he has yet to see any negative actions against the Republican minority.

“Oberlin is written up by many organizations that want to promote free speech as one of the most radical...I haven’t seen any hecklers yet.”


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