Union shocked by Savage backlash

Jen Mills – Deputy News Editor 15 October 2009

Cambridge Union has cancelled its controversial invitation to right- wing “shock-jock” Michael Savage to speak at tonight’s debate on political correctness.

Savage, the third most popular radio show host in the United States, is banned from entering the UK and was due to address the Union via video-link.

In October 2008 former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith placed the DJ on a list of sixteen people who are accused of “fostering extremism or hatred” and therefore may not enter the UK.  Others on the list include Islamic terrorists and Russian gang members.

The letter of invitation sent to Savage told him that the Union had been following his case “with great interest” and considers him “more qualified than anyone to talk about the subject of political correctness in American and Britain.”

Savage has spoken out against the decision to cancel his appearance, intimating that the British government put pressure on the Union to cancel his appearance.

He was reported by WorldNetDaily.com as asking, “What did the socialist Brown regime fear I might say during the debate? What are they hiding from the general public that would have been exposed? Why do they wish to hide what they did to an innocent broadcaster?”

Julien Domercq, Cambridge Union President, indicated that the decision to cancel was taken on financial grounds rather than the Union bowing to government pressure. He told The Cambridge Student (TCS): “We made the highly reluctant decision to cancel Dr Michael Savage’s appearance at the Union mainly for technical and financial reasons. We did not think that the several thousand pounds that this debate would have cost, following Savage’s demands, would have been a valuable use of members’ money.

“Although we tried as hard as we could to find an adequate compromise with his representatives, we found that Dr Savage was simply not willing to find a solution that would have worked for both sides. We did not think it appropriate that the multimillionaire radio host wanted a student charity to pick up the tab for a highly advanced technical solution that was way above our requirements for the debate.”

The President Elect, Jonathan Laurence, also denied allegations of conspiracy, confirming “the decision was made without any outside pressure from any other body”.

TCS has been shown some of the emails sent to the Union in response to the news that Savage would no longer be speaking. Dale Jenkins, a fan of Savage, said, “I think it’s so sad that your country is over-run by Socialists who are afraid to hear the truth.  Don’t be mistaken, with our horrible president, B. Hussein Obama, we are soon to follow… What next, will you start burning books??”

Nannette Malher, who describes herself as “a citizen of a now-failing-because-we-are-so-politically-correct-U.S.” was equally unhappy. She told the Union in an email, “It is shameful that your “prestigious” student debating society is cowering to political correctness, after such a long history of real debate, by banning Michael Savage.”

She went on to warn, “Muslims will eat you all in the end, and you will only have yourselves to blame. We won’t be able to save you this time around. Doesn’t look like we’ll be able to save ourselves, either.”

The Union faced criticism last year for advertising speakers who did not attend debates.  The Michaelmas ’08 Termcard claimed that Jude Law, the Ukrainian president Viktor Yushenko and the former French president Giscard d’Estaing would be debating, and used this as a prominent part of their advertising.

The Senior Officer of the Union at the time, Sebastien Ginet, resigned amid accusations of false promises after it emerged that none of these figures had ever been scheduled to speak. He told TCS last November that he felt he been “forced to do so by the Union committee” and initially suggested that he felt he was being victimised because of his French nationality.

Savage claims that he has never promoted violence on his show, and has announced his intention to sue Jacqui Smith for libel, labelling her a “witch”.

Content from his radio show seems to refute his protestation, as in one instance he refers to Muslim women as “vermin in black robes” and says that lesbians “can all drop dead” – “they’re not coming to get me, I’m coming to get them.”

When considering Middle Eastern foreign policy, he advises: “kill a hundred million of them…  I mean, would you rather us die than them? What is it going to take for you people to wake up? Would you rather we disappear and we die? Or would you rather they disappear and they die?”

Despite these extreme views, CUSU President Tom Chigbo said, “CUSU has no policy to oppose his right to speak. Had he addressed the Union Society, I would hope that his ignorant and prejudiced views would have been demolished by opposing speakers and audience members. “

The Union committee apologised for the change in scheduling. Domercq explained, “We do not have much flexibility in our budget this year.

“Whilst we are sorry for the change in the billing in this week’s debate, we hope that all our members are looking forward to hearing Jo Brand, Dara O’Briain, John Howard and John Bolton this term as much as we are.”

Jen Mills – Deputy News Editor