Keyes paid to speak, not campaign

To the editor:

Last month College Council appropriated $3,500 to the Garfield Republican Club to bring Dr. Alan Keyes to campus to speak this Wednesday, April 21. Timothy Karpoff strongly criticized this decision in his opinion column (“CC Funding Choices: Your Tax Dollars at Work,” March 16) on the grounds that it forces Williams students to financially support the presidential aspirations of Keyes, a bigot and religious zealot.

Well, in the words of Karpoff, “That is not right.” In fact, it is blatantly wrong.

The Garfield Republicans Club is paying Keyes to deliver a speech. They are not making a contribution to his campaign fund, as Karpoff would have us believe. Keyes is providing a service, i.e. a speech, and the GRC is compensating him for providing that service. Whether or not Keyes is a presidential candidate, or ever will be one, is irrelevant. Whatever Keyes chooses to do with his check from the GRC is not only out of our hands, it is none of our business. He may put the money towards his presidential campaign, just as he may put it towards a mortgage payment on his house or his children’s college educations. We will never know, but more to the point we really do not have any right to know. As long as the GRC does not write a check to the Keyes for President Committee (or any other candidate’s campaign fund for that matter) then neither they nor College Council has acted improperly or illegally.

Karpoff, on the other hand, has acted improperly. He not only hides his opposition to Keyes behind specious arguments, but he also makes false statements about Keyes’ political views.

According to Karpoff, Keyes “preaches rabidly against homosexuals and…seeks to integrate his church into our state.” Neither of these statements is true.

Keyes may view homosexual activity as wrong, just as he views premarital heterosexual activity as wrong, but he certainly does not “rabidly” attack homosexuals. If he does, then why did he describe the murder of Matthew Shepard as a “heinous crime”? (World NetDaily Column, Friday Oct. 16, 1998). Keyes understands that all people, regardless of their race, creed, religion or sexual orientation, are, by the mere fact of their humanity, worthy of love and respect.

Karpoff’s second charge is just as fallacious as his first. Keyes is a devout Roman Catholic who believes that religion has an important role to play in a land that is, supposedly, “one nation under God.” Yet he certainly does not advocate an end to the separation of church and state.

In a 1996 speech to the Christian Coalition, Keyes said, “I stand before you a Roman Catholic; I think it would be real strange if I suddenly started to tell the rest of you that my personal religious conviction was gonna be translated into the laws of this country” (New Hampshire Christian Coalition, Feb. 16 1996). Does that sound like a man who seeks to integrate his church into our state?

Apparently the prejudices that have plagued Catholic politicians, such as John F. Kennedy and Al Smith, are still with us.

Karpoff has every right to oppose Keyes’ ideas. In fact I encourage him to do so, for I too am in favor of “expanded dialogue” on campus. He should, however, address Keyes’ ideas, not make ad hominem attacks and slanderous accusations.

Daniel Sullivan ’01

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