Last Friday, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute Buckley Society hosted Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita in the Whittenberger Auditorium at the Indiana Memorial Union. We, the executive board of the College Democrats at IU, vehemently oppose the dangerous ideas Rokita espoused that evening.
While we undoubtedly support the right to free speech and ISI Buckley’s right to host Rokita, we will not stand idly by as hate speech is spoken on our campus.
The event, titled “Protecting Individual Liberties with Todd Rokita,” was described as a discussion on the preservation of personal liberty in the U.S. Our organization couldn’t help but notice the irony of the title. Isn't this the attorney general who wants to take bodily autonomy away from millions of Hoosiers?
Rokita spoke frequently about how “state attorney generals are critical to preserving liberty,” an incredibly hypocritical statement given the fact that Rokita supports Indiana Senate Bill 1, a law that implements a near-total abortion ban in the state. Luckily, the bill is currently held up by a temporary injunction in the court system. We believe that individual liberties include the right to control one’s own reproductive system, and a majority of Hoosiers believe that as well.
We weren’t surprised to also hear Rokita affirm his beliefs that children are being indoctrinated by “transgender extremists,” that allowing gun owners to carry their weapons without a permit is the only way to curb gun violence or that American exceptionalism should be taught to Indigenous populations. While we weren’t surprised, extremist speech like this still made our blood boil nonetheless.
Rokita’s speech is not only hateful, but it is a false representation of reality. As he spoke about the indoctrination of children, he claimed that spending time teaching students about LGBTQ issues takes away from their time learning about math, science and English. He offered no proof of indoctrination despite claiming such brainwashing exists in K-12 education.
In our opinion, the most surprising part of the speech was when he said the 17th amendment of the Constitution should be repealed, which would halt the direct election of U.S. senators by the people and return to a system in which state legislatures appoint our senators. It’s worth mentioning that Rokita lost the Republican primary to Mike Braun for the U.S. Senate seat in 2018.
Rokita does not represent the majority of Hoosiers, let alone the students of IU. This fact was blatantly obvious in the low attendance of his event, where our protestors outnumbered his supporters inside. Thus, we hope this serves as a lesson for Mr. Rokita that his dog-whistling, racially-coded, hateful language is not welcome on our campus.
The Executive Board of the College Democrats at Indiana University