Can You Spare $250 for Raging Liberalism?

Monday night, I had just started my car to drive to evening Mass when my phone rang.  I saw the New York number, with its two-one-two area code, and grimaced.  Here was the New York University alumni department, whom I'd been assiduously avoiding ever since I had missed their first call, looked up the number online, and discovered who they were.

But something stirred me that evening, in the dark parking lot with my engine abuzz and my phone caterwauling.  Like the cornered rabbit who finally turns to fight the dogs, I answered.

The girl introduced herself as Kennedy.  As she read the standard "you went to school here so you should give us money" spiel, I imagined what she must look like – a fresh-faced 18- or 19-year-old college student, perhaps crammed in a cubicle like in Office Space, with a stone-faced overseer ready to crack his whip in the event of a call gone poorly.  Or maybe she was operating out of her dorm room, with a Gloria Steinem "I had an abortion" poster on one wall and an American flag with birth control pills instead of stars on another.

First, she asked for $250.  I told her that I couldn't give anything at this time.  Doubtless sensing an opening ("'at this time'?! stupid!"), she proceeded to mention all the wonderful labs and equipment my donation would effect and asked for $100 instead.  "Would that be easier for you?"  I said again, simply and politely, that I would not be able to give.  I figured that the whip-wielding overseer must have told her to back off after two rejections.

Instead, she busted out the big guns: "I'm on a scholarship," she told me, "and I know that without the generosity of alumni like you, I would not be able to continue my education."  A lot of alumni, she continued, were giving $18.31, to commemorate the anniversary of NYU's founding.  How about that?  Could she count on me for that?

Now I'd had enough.  "Look," I said, "I don't want to talk your ear off here, but..."  And then I laid out how I could not give a single dime to NYU and keep my conscience.

I told Kennedy that every time I see the newest iteration of some hare-brained, ludicrous, or out-and-out abominable left-wing idea in the papers, I can count on some NYU professor loudly advocating for it in print.  At the time, I was thinking specifically of Arthur Caplan, a so-called ethicist at NYU's Langone Medical Center, whose recently published justification for "assisted suicide" (that is, doctors' dubious privilege to murder apparently inconvenient people) included the argument that doctors technically don't kill their patients because, after all, it's the patients themselves who ingest the lethal pills the doctors prescribe.

Now, I'm thinking of how my student career at NYU was permeated by the overwhelmingly expensive construction of a campus in Abu Dhabi, which, among other things, garnered the university's president a "no confidence" vote from faculty.  I recall making the point at the poker nights I hosted then about the supreme irony of NYU, which aggressively courts females and finds Jewish students so well-represented as to have earned the nickname "NYJew," fabricating a campus in a country where two of the best ways to get treated like dirt are to be a woman and to be a Jew.

How could a Catholic in good standing ever contribute to a university that teaches students to adore the destruction of innocent human lives, agitate for the redefinition of marriage, and lead the call for "death with dignity"?  How could a conservative with a conscience pad the bank account of any alma mater with as shameful an ideological bent as most of the "greats" in our higher education system?

After I finished, Kennedy said, "Well, I'm sorry that NYU makes you feel that way."  The conversation didn't last much longer.

Don't get me wrong – I'm not much of a bomb-thrower in my personal life.  I wince at my phone when it rings, and I prefer to finish conversations without fanfare.  But I'm starting to realize that we fail as conservatives when we refuse to respond to liberals' offensive maneuvers in our day-to-day.  We don't have the luxury of shrinking back – of putting up with abhorrent ideas, of letting people assault our ears with this nonsense – in the interest of keeping the peace.  While we conservatives are avoiding controversy, raising our families, and trying to build a life-sustaining economy, our liberal counterparts are agitating twenty-four hours a day for the destruction of what we love.  They can afford to; too often, the government pays them to do it.

I'm not exhorting our readers, à la Pajama Boy, to go out of their way to harangue friends and family members about political causes this coming Thanksgiving.  But this alumna-to-be called me.  The hyper-liberal university establishment came knocking at my door, demanding my time (and money).  In a situation like that, I need to remember – all of us need to remember – that my way of life is under attack, and that I do what's true and what's good no favors by keeping my trap shut and hoping to slink by.

On the bright side, I probably have a black mark next to my name in the NYU alumni registry now.  Perhaps they'll stop calling me.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.

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