Monday, August 30, 2004
The afternoon's drama came toward the end of the panel, with this skinny kid sitting in the front row, who happened to be donning a bright red t-shirt with the Soviet hammer and sickle. I wanted to call him out from the start. I just felt a little crass about it. But as the panel wore on, it continued to gnaw at me. It dawned on me that I or the lefists on the panel would have had no problem calling the kid out if he'd been wearing a t-shirt with neo-Nazi regalia. And he applauded vigorously when the lefties spoke, and sat on his hands when the rest of us spoke, meaning of course that he wasn't wearing the shirt with any sense of irony.The kid covered the t-shirt shortly thereafter.
So when he finally raised his hand during the Q&A, I decided that --what the hell -- I might as well point out how silly he looks advertising a belief system rooted in slavery and murder. [I]recommend[ed] to the kid that he read Anne Applebaum's Gulag, the Pulitzer winning book which documents the horrors of the Soviet work camps. He didn't seem to get it.
So I added, "I know Soviet chic is hip right now, particularly on college campuses. But you really ought to think about the message you send by wearing that shirt. It has all the charm of a swastika."
With that, Hillsdale poly sci Professor David Bobb added, "you're associating yourself with the deaths of 100 million people..."
The kid then interrupted Bobb, with obvious agitation, "Yes, I know all about the history of the Soviet Union."
To which Bobb replied, "Oh, so you know that you're being insulting."
UPDATE (8/31): Keith Halderman has reading suggestions for the student.