Setting America's liberals straight
Published 21/08/2005 | 00:11
EVAN Coyne Maloney - Colgate smile, V-necked T-shirt, hint of gel in his hair - could have jumped out of a Gap poster. "Very cool to meet you," he says. Why, then, do the police keep being called to eject this trendy but polite young man from official premises? He is not sure how many times this has happened over the past year. "Five? Six? I've lost count. Call it half a dozen
EVAN Coyne Maloney - Colgate smile, V-necked T-shirt, hint of gel in his hair - could have jumped out of a Gap poster. "Very cool to meet you," he says. Why, then, do the police keep being called to eject this trendy but polite young man from official premises? He is not sure how many times this has happened over the past year. "Five? Six? I've lost count. Call it half a dozen."
Maloney is an undercover documentary film-maker whose first feature, Brainwashing 101, scheduled for release early next year, will, he claims, lay bare the hypocrisy of what he calls the most self-righteous people in America - and possibly cost them millions of dollars. That is where the cops come in.
Judging by the rough cut, the movie will be as slick and incisive as anything by Michael Moore. But Maloney has a dark secret. Despite ticking so many Democrat boxes - Irish name, New Yorker, software designer, gay-friendly, non-churchgoer - Evan Maloney is a Republican. And he is on a mission to expose through his film what he sees as the astonishingly vicious persecution of conservative students by university professors and administrators. For those who admire what he is doing, he is the Anti-Michael Moore: young, patriotic and single-chinned. Yet, while holding Moore's views in contempt, Maloney has plenty in common with him.
Righteous anger, for a start. He jabs a finger towards the boiling asphalt of Union Square. "Right here, two days after 9/11, there was a demonstration of people saying we got what we deserved. I was sickened - it was like saying a rape victim had it coming because she dressed provocatively. That's when my passion for politics reignited."
But it was a TV news item that turned Maloney into a film-maker. In January 2003, PBS, America's publicly funded broadcaster, reported on a demonstration in Washington DC against the Iraq war. "The script went to great pains to present the protesters as the voice of mainstream America," says Maloney.
"But the words were at odds with what we were seeing - hate-crazed extremists carrying pictures of Bush with a swastika. None of this was mentioned. Effectively, I was being lied to by a media organisation that takes my taxes to put out propaganda.
"That was when I decided I was going to film the next demonstration, interview the protesters and record the sort of things they say to close friends over a drink."
Maloney duly hired a camera and took it to an anti-war rally in New York. Smiling naively, he asked demonstrators how they would compare Bush and Hitler. "There are so many analogies," sighed one. "The difference is the moustache," volunteered another.
For his next trick, Maloney and a couple of friends infiltrated a peace march in San Francisco. They were indistinguishable from the marchers, except in one important respect - their own placards read: 'Saddam Hussein only kills his own people, so it's none of our business.'
When the protesters noticed, they were incandescent. "Are you people from the suburbs?" "Do you realise that your ancestors killed millions of Native Americans?"
By January this year, when he filmed dejected Democrats protesting against Bush athis second inauguration, Maloney was making a name for himself as the fresh-faced tormentor of the Left. Days after he put his first film on his website (brain-terminal.com), Fox News broadcast it on television. Then Stuart Browning, founder of Embarcadero Technologies, a provider of database applications, suggested that he make a full-length feature about political correctness and affirmative action on campuses. "I flew straight to LA for a meeting with Stuart and his attorney. I came away with $250,000," recalls Maloney. Brainwashing 101 was born.
One of those who appear in the film is Lydia Brodeur, who was a sophomore at Michigan State University last year when she wrote to the college newspaper. "I have two younger brothers," said her letter. "One is white, related to me by blood. The other is Guatemalan, related by adoption. Both were raised by the same parents, taught the same morals. Both are exceptionally bright.
"However, when they try to get into college, my Guatemalan brother will have a leg-up over my white brother because his skin is brown. My white brother will be penalised because his skin is no special colour, and my Guatemalan brother will not have the satisfaction of knowing he got where he is by merit alone."
Brodeur's claim that racial quotas undermine her parents' most cherished belief - that skin colour does not matter - drew a withering response from one of her own professors, who interrupted his lecture to trash her letter. "I had to sit there while he told 200 kids that I had a prejudiced mind," she says.
In another university, the most innocent joke brought out the campus thought-police. A male student had become so fed up with girls using the lifts to travel just one floor that he put up a notice: "Ladies! Lose that fresher's 15 and use the stairs." The "fresher's 15" refers to the pounds that female students reputedly gain during their first year away from home.
An official complaint of sexual harassment was lodged; the student was expelled from his dorm and obliged to sleep in his car.
The real horror stories in Maloney's film are the universities' attempts to punish conservative students who break the "speech codes" now adopted by hundreds of American colleges: the University of Connecticut, for example, bans "inappropriate laughter" while West Virginia University counsels students against "gender-specific" terms such as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". It sounds toosilly for words. But being found guilty of a breach of etiquette is a career-threatening event, as Steve Hinkle of California Polytechnic University discovered.
Hinkle made the mistake of inviting the black Republican author Mason Weaver - an 'Uncle Tom' to Democrats - to Cal Poly to give a speech about his book, It's Safeto Leave the Plantation. (Init, Weaver uses the word 'plantation' as a metaphor for welfare dependency, which he claims is discouraging many black entrepreneurs.)
He stuck up a flyer advertising the talk in the college multicultural centre. It mentioned nothing more than the title of the book, the author, and the time and place of the meeting. But, within minutes, the police had been called because "a young white male" was distributing "hate literature". Hinkle was summoned by the authorities. "They told me to see a college psychologist to discuss 'emotional barriers', as if conservatism was an emotional disorder," he says in the film.
He refused, so he was hauled before a seven-hour hearing, at which he was denied legal representation and found guilty of disrupting a meeting. Again, there was a demand for an apology - but one of the few Republican professors on campus told him he must on no account comply, as proof of his "guilt" would circulate on the internet and haunt him for years.
In the event, Hinkle sued and Cal Poly had to fork out $40,000 - but refused to apologise. Enter Evan Maloney with his camera.
Brainwashing 101 shows him being curtly referred to the Cal Poly public affairs office - but before he can get there, we hear a policeman's voice off-screen: "You need to leave or you're going to jail." The camera swings down and we see the gun in the holster.American universities are denying conservative students the right to free speech, according to Maloney. "Even George Washington would not be welcome in colleges today if he wanted to give a speech," he says.
Maloney has spent a year on the road, driving from campus to campus. Sometimes, his benefactor, Stuart Browning, acts as cameraman. "Multimillionaires aren't used to sleeping in the dingiest, $39-a-night motels - but, as I remind him, it's his quarter of a million bucks," says the film-maker.
Now that most of the filming is over, he must find a major distributor if the documentary is to stand even a chance of attracting Michael Moore-sized audiences. That
'The indignation of some of its targets is turning into panic'
will be a challenge, since predominantly Democrat Hollywood seems to find it hard to get its head around the possibility that a conservative film could be a hit.
"The industry behaves more like a political party than a business," saysMaloney. "As a result, it's leaving half the national market untapped. We just need to get it into their heads that there's a lot of money to be made."
Meanwhile, there are plans for nationwide screenings oncampuses. The audience is likely to come from the growing numbers of students who are mildly conservative libertarians - so-called 'South Park Conservatives' because they relish the cartoon show's savaging of PC Hollywood stars and preachy educationalists. They should enjoy Brainwashing 101, in which the script drips with sarcasm.
Whether the campus screenings will be allowedto take place is anotherquestion. As the film nears completion, the indignation of some of its targets is turning into panic. To understand why, one needs to grasp that, to a far greater degree than their counterparts here, American universities are dependent on donations from rich alumni, most of whom left college before the multiculturalist Left achieved its present influence.
As Maloney explains: "They don't know that the first thing that happens to students at their alma mater is 'sensitivity training' that sorts people into categories, so you know whether you should be apologising for the history of people of your skin colour or cast yourself as a victim."
When the alumni find out what is really going on, he predicts, the money will dry up. "Alumni in their 60s and 70s have no idea that left-wing politics have become institutionalised, and that there are full-time paid officials to enforce it. So we're going to show them - and prospective parents and students - because, needless to say, there's nothing in the marketing material about it.
"Professors, these days, see their job as changing the world. That's fine. Unfortunately, they all want to do so through the same brand of politics. The irony is that these are the people who, 30 years ago, were always protesting against using the police - "the pigs" - to restrict debate on campus. And now they're the ones calling the pigs out on me."
© Daily Telegraph