Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ron Robinson on Buckley and bias

Thursday evening, Young America's Foundation President Ron Robinson was at the Magic Gourd restaurant in Washington to teach an activism seminar for members of the George Washington University YAF chapter.

Robinson's presentation was about the nature of media bias, but his mind was clearly on the recent death of William F. Buckley Jr., the "conservative icon" to whom Robinson paid tribute on the YAF Web site:
"William F. Buckley Jr. was the founder of the modern YAF movement and a longtime friend of Young America's Foundation. The staff and board of Young America's Foundation send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends."
While waiting for the event to begin, Robinson talked to me about what a tremendous loss Buckley's death is for the conservative movement. Later, during his remarks to the GWU students, he related anecdotes about Buckley, including the National Review founder's famous 1965 response when asked what was the first thing he would do if he won election as mayor of New York City: "Demand a recount."

Robinson told the GWU students that Buckley would be proud of the work their YAF chapter was doing on campus. And while even liberals praised Buckley at his death, it wasn't always so, the YAF president reminded the students. When he was in high school, Robinson said, one of his teachers told him Buckley was "more dangerous than Hitler."

The notion that conservatives are dangerous and menacing is propagated chiefly through the news media, and Robinson's presentation consisted of more than 100 slides showing covers of Time and Newsweek magazines, contrasting how liberal and conservative figures were portrayed. A November 1994 cover of Time featuring Newt Gingrich with the headline, "MAD AS HELL," was one example.

"How did you become a conservative?" Robinson asked the GWU students. "I bet it wasn't because of an overload of conservative teachers or professors. I bet it wasn't because of anything you saw on ABC, CBS, NBC 'Nightly News.' I know it wasn't because of anything you saw on the cover of Time or Newsweek."

With the assistance of Ron Robinson, YAF's national headquarters staff and local supporters, the George Washington University YAF chapter -- led by seniors Sergio Gor and Iris Somberg -- is becoming a model for conservative campus activism nationwide. Thursday's seminar was attended by more than 30 members, including freshman Joe Sangiorgio, whose notes on Robinson's presentation were essential to the preparation of this report.

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