The Colgate Scene
November 2004

Koch opens new center's 2004-2005 series

[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

At the beginning of his lecture on September 10, former New York City mayor Ed Koch told students gathered at Memorial Chapel that many of them would not agree with his opinions. He told the audience that he was a lifelong Democrat who was bolting from his party and voting for President Bush this year because he supports the president's "war on terrorism."

At the end of the lecture, political science professor Robert Kraynak, director of the university's new Center for Freedom & Western Civilization, one of the main sponsors of the event, thanked those in attendance for the "spirited arguments" that peppered the evening.

In between, Koch elicited some laughs with anecdotes about his 12 years as mayor ("I did a good job") and his post-public service career that has included everything from a stint on the People's Court TV show to writing political columns and appearing on radio and television news shows ("I'm a pretty rich guy").

Koch's frank talk about the Iraq war, Muslims, and terrorism rankled some students who later challenged him during the question and answer period. Koch walked from side to side of the Chapel stage as he answered the questions, sometimes challenging students about their stance.

Those types of exchanges fit what Kraynak said was one of the reasons for bringing Koch to campus. He said that guests like Koch, whom he joked was both "charming and irritating at the same time," is the type of person who can stimulate thought and provide intellectual diversity on campus, one of the goals of the Center for Freedom & Western Civilization.

The center, which supports public discussion of and scholarly research into the principles that underlie the Western tradition of freedom and civilization, was created last year to present a conservative viewpoint at Colgate through civilized debate about issues of history as well as the modern day.

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