Protesters stage walk-out during Ann Coulter talk at the Union16th February 2018
A group of students expressed their opposition to American Conservative commentator, Ann Coulter, by walking out during her address at the Oxford Union on Monday.
During the first few minutes of the talk, at least five individuals stood up to voice their objections and were asked to leave by security. They promptly left the chamber, with one woman shouting, “you should be ashamed of yourself” before exiting.
Ms Coulter is a vocal Trump supporter and is best known as an anti-liberal television personality. Opponents have called her comments Islamophobic and inflammatory, and she was labelled by one British journalist as “the Katie Hopkins of America”.
The 56-year-old seemed unfazed by the interruption, and sarcastically responded that she was “disappointed” by the scale of the protest. She referred to a crowd outside dispensing leaflets listing her most controversial quotes, including her beliefs on criminalising abortion. The hall neared maximum capacity ahead of the address.
Coulter has an extensive support base in the US, having published more than 10 best-selling books – including In Trump We Trust – and boasts a Twitter following of 1.9 million. She is said to be worth $8.5 million.
Atticus Stonestrom, a Mathematics student at St Hilda’s college, said he was motivated to join the walk-out to show his disapproval of the Union’s invitations to controversial figures like Ms Coulter.
In an online post, he said he disagreed with the institution’s history of providing a “platform [to] explicit advocates of racially motivated genocide…proud Islamophobes or dabblers in anti-Semitism… rape apologists, or those overtly sympathetic to white supremacy.”
It is the second time in recent weeks that the Oxford Union has faced public criticism. Last week, the University’s Jewish Society condemned the chamber’s decision to host Yvonne Ridley, claiming she had a history of making “comments that cause Jewish students to feel targeted and unsafe on campus.”
Asked to respond to the Coulter walk-out yesterday, a Union spokesperson drew attention to the speaking structure guests are invited to, which includes a probing questioning session. The talk included a section which allowed those attending the opportunity to question and challenge Coulter on her views. The Union argues that it prides itself on bringing debate to its members and upholding free speech.