“College kids are living in a fantasy world,” former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told an audience at the Student Center last Wednesday
“The world is changing, but you don’t see it because you don’t feel it here, you don’t believe it’s real. The enemy gets up everyday thinking about you, despising you,” Santorum said.
The former Republican senator tried to break the bubble of this fantasy world when he spoke at Temple during Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. He stressed the point that America needs to wake up and see who they are fighting. Santorum was invited to speak at the university by the Temple College Republicans.
Temple College Republicans President Ryan McCool introduced the former senator and said that it was Santorum who inspired him to hold the event.
“If there’s one thing that the senator has taught me, it’s that you should always speak your mind,” said McCool, a junior political science major. “People are always going to be critical and you shouldn’t let that hinder your views because it’s easy to say what’s popular. It’s easy to not rock the boat, but it takes true courage to stand up for what you believe in.”
Not all in attendance were as receptive to the former senator as McCool. Outside in the rain, groups of protestors clustered for cover around the Student Center, but the poor weather conditions did not deter them. They yelled their message loud and explained to passersby what was going on.
Temple College Democrats Vice President Vicki Moore, a senior history and political science major, said she is against Santorum’s policies. She was protesting his views on homosexuality, reproductive rights and hate speech.
“We are not here to say that Rick Santorum does not have a right to be here. This is a public university that receives public funds, he should be allowed to come here,” Moore said
Clarissa Marks, a sophomore sociology major, said she was protesting because Islamo-Fascism week is inherently hateful against Muslims.
During the senator’s speech, he said he was not speaking out against all followers of Islam.
“Islamo-Fascism is not describing any group of people. What it describes is an ideology,” Santorum said. “Like not all Germans were Nazi’s, not all Muslims are fascists.”
The former senator said, “When I talk about this term and am referring to the enemy, I’m not talking about all of Islam. I am talking about people who are using the Muslim faith and see themselves as faithful, holy Muslims, and see people who do not share their views as not true Muslims.”
The predominantly male crowd was divided on Santorum’s views. Roughly half of the group was supportive while the rest questioned much of what he said.
Ed Furman is one of Santorum’s supporters.
Furman, the president of St. Joseph’s University College Republicans, said while he is more moderate on social issues than Santorum, in most cases, he agrees with the former senator.
“His ideas, while they can be conservative for some people, are in step with the evangelical Christian right,” said Furman, a sophomore political science and history major.
Santorum’s speech did not just reach out to the Christian right, he made many references to the left and said they should be more supportive of the fight against Islamo-Fascism.
“If there is any group of people who should be opposed to this virulent strain of Islam, it should be the American left. Radical Islam is 110 percent opposite of what the American left stands for,” Santorum said. “Everything they believe, the secular left abhor. Yet they are the greatest opponents to fighting it.”
After the senator’s speech, he fielded questions from the crowd. Many of the questions were related to the current war in Iraq. Santorum said he thinks the U.S. is going to lose because Americans are losing heart, and they don’t understand the struggle.
“We’re alone in this fight and the rest of the world will not be with us,” he said.
Santorum’s opponents asked tough questions but were respectful. Liz Hanson, a sophomore communications major, said it was a really great thing that he was here.
“I don’t agree with Rick Santorum, but I respect that he came to such a liberal school,” Hanson said.
McCool said he thought the crowd was respectful to Santorum.
“I was really impressed,” McCool said. “I think Sen. Santorum is a really well-spoken man and can articulate better than anyone.”
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at email@example.com.