Julia Xia ’19
On April 6, author, political activist and creator of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) think tank, Star Parker, spoke in Weinstein Auditorium about her views on the U.S. welfare system.
Due to her position as a conservative leader, Parker’s appearance at Smith College was and has been controversial. During her talk last Wednesday, Parker expressed appreciation for colleges like Smith that are willing to hear out her conservative point of view.
Parker has been “following the thread to dismantle the welfare system” for many years now, she said.
She spoke of her own experiences with poverty, abortions and single-motherhood, concluding that “trying to live off Uncle Sam wasn’t good enough for me … they don’t want to give you too much of anything and it’s cruel to the poor.”
The title of the talk, “Lies of the Left,” refers to what Parker sees as liberal progressivism’s failure to protect poor people of color in the U.S.
“Generations have become pathologically dependent on centralized planning,” she said, explaining that in her past, she was not allowed the space or freedom to make her own decisions. Parker also condemned a system that taught women “to be fearful that they couldn’t take care of themselves.”
She also spoke of the various “wars” waged by liberal progressivism, such as the war on free market and choice, religion, marriage and family institutions. The war on religion has “weakened us” and led to “cultural corruption,” she said. Her second point was about the war on marriage, which has supposedly weakened women and brought them to live in a “meaningless way, wondering if they will live a fulfilled life now that they will die alone.”
During the Q&A session, one student asked Parker about her opinion on same-sex married couples raising children. Parker evaded the question, saying not enough data had been collected on the “new phenomenon.”
Parker told the audience, “Don’t send your money to D.C.” to fix the problem of poverty. She instead encouraged them to become more actively involved in charities in their own communities.
Parker also spoke briefly of how the youth are taught that “everything is someone else’s fault.” That mentality, she said, has led to Ferguson and Black Lives Matter. While Parker spoke frankly about racism at other points during the talk, she did not mention that or widespread police brutality during her remark about Ferguson and the BLM movement.
Parker brought up five goals she and other conservative leaders have to fight poverty, including passing new welfare reform, making house vouchers available, enabling school choice, letting people opt out of Social Security and allowing dollar for dollar income tax write-off of all charitable contributions
“For me, Star Parker’s event unintentionally became about free speech more than anything else,” said Pam Larkin ’19. “As in Smith College’s freedom to host her, her freedom to speak, and the student body’s freedom to question her … Yes, she does not support my right to marry another woman, but that didn’t stop me from having a lovely dinner with her [after the talk with other attendees].”
“I didn’t feel like it was a good representation of the other side of American politics, just a good sense of what Star Parker believes,” said Sara Barkey ’18, a member of the Smith Democrats. “The whole thing reminded me a little bit of arguing with the conservative kids in middle school … If I had to choose one issue that disturbed me the most in the way she addressed it, it would probably be her comments about Ferguson.”
Parker was the first Republican to come to Smith campus since conservative writer and commentator Ann Coulter came 10 years ago.