Conservatives Respond to Gao

Take it away, Tommy Schultz (President of the Stanford Conservative Society):

*This past Friday, Shelley Gao published in the Stanford Daily a litany of attacks on the conservative community and its leadership. The Daily offered me an opportunity to respond in Monday’s edition, merely limiting my article to 600 words. I submitted the piece below to them on Saturday. After some stalling, the Daily demanded that I make certain edits and I agreed to the vast majority of them. I submitted a watered down version of my argument, which the Daily editors had previously deemed appropriate. *

Monday passed, and I finally received word from the Daily that my response was (1) too long – contrary to their previous instructions — and (2) that it would be inappropriate to “criticize someone who writes a weekly column for the Daily.” I have always been of the mind that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but if the Daily grants immunity to its columnists, prohibiting responses to venomous public attacks, then I am submitting my response to a paper on campus willing to publish the truth: the Stanford Review.


In response to a column written by Shelley Gao in the Stanford Daily, titled “The GAO Report: The Problem with Campus Conservatives”:

Dear Editor,

I write to you today to express my happiness in discovering that Shelley Gao cares about ideas. Up until now, she has said that her exclusive interest was power, and she has acted accordingly.

Ms. Gao makes multiple accusations in her recent Daily column, including that the Stanford conservative community is non-inclusive and non-intellectual; she charges that her “dear friends” are “irresponsible” and need to “step up” because their ideas are “annoying” and “often lacking in substance.” With “dear friends” like Ms. Gao, who needs enemies? But I’m going to do my best to substantively respond to her wild-eyed attacks.

Ms. Gao blasts the Stanford conservative community for somehow not being inclusive. Ms. Gao is flat out wrong. I find it ironic that she is attacking a minority group on campus actively trying to expand rather than the liberal majority that tries to suppress it. But let’s examine the facts: Self-identified Democrats count themselves as active members of the Stanford Conservative Society. Two recent editors in chief and two executive editors of the Stanford Review voted for Barack Obama. Officers and editors in both groups range from the very right to the center left, and are as likely to resist labels as embrace them.  Does this sound like “antagonism is displayed toward individuals who refused to fervently commit to GOP lines”?

Ms. Gao lambasts the Stanford Review for not doing enough to promote conservatism’s intellectual roots. I am surprised to see this because Ms. Gao herself participated in a book club initiated and led by Stanford Review editors that explored the foundations of conservatism.  But judge for yourself whether the Stanford Review has any intellectual bona fides – in its September 15th issue, one article discussed the differing ethical systems of egoism versus altruism and the importance of philosophy in one’s life while another article went into a criticism of the teaching of medieval perspectives on Christianity. If these are not intellectual exercises, Ms. Gao has a very high bar.

All of which brings me to my original point. Ms. Gao has purposefully distanced herself from the conservative community and she has stated that this is because she wanted to increase her chances of being elected at Stanford – a contention that we recognize as a sound principle (and indeed she’s won twice now), but her distancing hardly gives her substantial insight into the conservative community. Ms. Gao declares that “there should be more events modeled after the Hoover lunches,” a series of events I help organize on a weekly basis. Yet in the years that I’ve attended them, I have rarely seen her smiling face in attendance. In fact, to my recollection, she has only been to a few Stanford Conservative Society events and zero Stanford Review meetings in the last two years.

Despite her baseless accusations, her suspect idealism, and her current employment at a liberal institution run by a Clinton administration official, I welcome Ms. Gao to any and all conservative events into the future. She has always gotten an invitation and, often enough, I have personally reached out to her to attend. The Stanford conservative community has made great strides in the last three years, growing from a group of less than 25 students into a community of over 550. We could not have achieved this by being anything she accuses, and we encourage her to find out more about who we are. In short, we invite her to “step up.”****

Tommy Schultz, President – Stanford Conservative Society

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