Throngs of angry students challenged the College Republicans’ last speaker, University of California Regent Ward Connerly. The group’s latest speaker, a writer who rose from welfare to become a best-selling author and successful entrepreneur, drew a much milder response Tuesday night.
The College Republicans at UCSB and the Young American’s Foundation, a conservative group that sponsors speakers at college campuses, brought Star Parker, the author of Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats, to the MultiCultural Center Theater. Parker spoke to a diverse crowd of approximately 45 people about America’s welfare system and attempted to answer the question, “Whose role is it to help the poor?”
Prior to Parker’s lecture, those in attendance sat over 20 minutes in near silence while she waited for the taping of her appearance on the MSNBC show “Hardball” to begin. For the next 40 minutes, Parker debated with an unheard partner via satellite on a variety of issues. After the show, Parker delivered a 45-minute speech to the audience.
“I’m becoming more and more like a Libertarian every day,” Parker said in her opening. She spoke of how she is “concerned regarding how the poor are affected” by Bush’s tax cuts and appeared to be carrying on a somewhat heated debate. At one point, she said “George Bush is a businessman, but he’s also a cowboy.”
Parker expressed her dislike for the welfare system after living in and out of it for seven years. She spoke of the three rules of welfare: “Don’t work, don’t save, don’t get married.”
“Nothing was able to break down the family like the welfare state,” she said. “[I] looked at welfare as a cancer and felt it should be abolished.”
Parker also focused on the Social Security system and inherent problems in its future. She denounced Social Security’s economic return as a valid investment opportunity. White females earn only 2 percent on their investment in Social Security, she said. White males earn between 1.2 and 1.5 percent, black females earn 1 percent and black males only break even. She attributed these differences between each group to varied life expectancies.
The College Republicans invited Parker to speak to promote harmony and to contrast with the more controversial guests of the past, including Eldrige Cleaver, who visited the school in 1968; Connerly; and Oliver North, College Republicans Chair Nick Farrah said.
“Star is here because her message is just one that is inspirational,” he said. “Star teaches us how to reach out to people that need our help, as humans, as people that are fortunate enough to go to college. With Star’s message we’re able to understand how to reach out to people.”
Farrah was positive about the turnout at last night’s lecture.
“A lot of people that were here didn’t get to understand and to hear the full message that Star had to give because they didn’t have two hours to listen; they only had an hour to hang out, and then they had to study for midterms,” he said.
Parker said her religious beliefs prompted her stance on welfare. Sophomore English major Rachel Llewellyn, a registered Independent, disagreed with using faith as a political guide.
“I came tonight because people who oppose the views expressed tonight don’t make themselves available to hear it,” Llewellyn said. “I don’t think that faith should play a large role in politics. Our personal lives influence our politics, not the other way around. A good place to start understanding political motives and processes is to address individual faith.”