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Senator Rick Santorum provokes political discourse among students
By GEORGINA RUPP
Published: April 10th, 2013
Views: 31,872 views

Former Senator Rick Santorum addressed the Middle East today and the threat of “radical Islam” last night in the fourth event of the Foreign Affairs Symposium (FAS) spring lecture series.

Santorum discussed what he perceived as the chief difference between “radical Islam” and Islam, asserting the former to be a threat. He said that the problem is that Islamists, a group different than Muslims, are gaining strength in the Middle East, not just because of President Obama’s policies but because of the policies of administrations over a long period of time.

Part of the reasoning behind the threat that radical Islam poses today, Santorum explained, is the logic that Islamists have to be “more fervent” to be successful and to be blessed by Allah.

“The secular and sacred realm in Islam are the same,” Santorum said, noting a difference he perceived between Islam and Christianity. “President Bush recognized the threat of radical Islam and sought to crush it in Afghanistan. Note, I did not say Iraq.”

However, according to Santorum, Bush did not do a good job of informing people of the reason for going to war.

“President Bush called it a war on terror,” he said. “Terror is a military tactic. You can’t have a war on a military tactic. President Bush did not have the courage to call out to the world and identify the threat.”

Instead, Santorum noted, Bush glossed over his aims to wage a war on radical Islam.

“President Obama has gone one step forward,” he said. “He embraces the whole Muslim community except Al Qaeda.”

Santorum identified Al Qaeda as “a tiny piece of radicalism” and Obama’s inclusive approach as a catalyst for the Arab Spring.

The senator transitioned to discussing nuclear weapons. He explained that Ahmadinejad has made speeches detailing the greatest virtue in the Islamic Republic as martyrdom, causing him to be more concerned about Iran than North Korea.

 “I see no sign that President Obama is concerned with Iran getting nuclear weapons. If there is an attack, I ask you: who will fight?” he said. “President Obama has shown he is more comfortable leading from behind and appeasing. What will be the consequence to the world?”

 Santorum discussed what he believed the U.S. response to talk of nuclear weapons in Iran should be.

 “The worst thing a country can do is talk big and carry a little stick,” he said. “We are talking big and carrying no stick … What I’d like out of the President is clarity. If he’s not going to use military action, then say so.”

 The question and answer portion of the evening was, as Santorum predicted at the start of his talk, robust.

 Students raised questions covering topics of the Middle East, same sex marriage, abortion and the environment.

 When asked about the drone program, Santorum responded by suggesting we kill “the nuclear scientists” instead of innocents.

“This administration is killing people,” he said. “You may laugh, but it would be a good thing.”

 A number of audience members later laughed in reaction to Santorum’s treatment of the environment. He noted that many scientific journals have been discredited.

 “The bottom line is in the last 15 years the earth is not warm,” Santorum said. “The warmest year was 1998. We have not seen any warming since then. This was somehow lost on the people in this room.”

 Santorum’s response to such questions disappointed sophomore Nick Igo.

 “As a student at the country’s first-founded research institution, I was hoping he’d have been able to provide some personal research to support his claims,” Igo wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

 Santorum also fielded questions about abortion and marriage.

 He stated that marriage could be defined, outside of religion, as the union of a man and a woman for one purpose, to reproduce.

 “I hear the term same-sex marriage, and I say, ‘That’s impossible,’” Santorum said.

Santorum also discussed abortion, saying that today’s generation is a primarily pro-life generation.

 “That’s because we are a visual generation. We don’t trust things we don’t see.

Some of you have seen pictures of yourselves bouncing around in the womb, sucking your thumb,” he said. “Some people say they can’t go there because it could have been them.”

 He named adoption as an effective solution for families who are unable to care for their babies.

“There are millions of parents, infertile couples, who would love to adopt. The biggest problem facing America is the baby bust.”

 Nevertheless, according to Santorum, the pressure for some mothers to abort “a glob of tissue” is immense.

“The vast majority of people who are pro-life are pro-life because they know something scientifically,” he said. “I think [abortion] is wrong because I believe in human rights, not because I am a Catholic.”

 Santorum also addressed the topic of religion as it related to school textbooks.

 “It’s important to understand that taking a particular point of view in concert with a particular religion and then removing the religion … creates another type of theology. There is no such thing as neutrality. The idea is ridiculous.”

Junior Danielle DiPersia, a member of the FAS staff, was pleased with the outcome of the event.

 “I think the event was a huge success,” DiPersia said. “I was honestly expecting the crowd to be rowdier and more argumentative. Of course, there was controversy and disagreement but overall, the crowd was respectful and provoked engaging debate.”

 

 


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