The Bulletin

Jerry Falwell Jr. invites Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Liberty University convocation

By: - March 6, 2019 12:07 pm

Jerry Falwell, Jr. (Courtesy of Liberty University)

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

After calling New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “dumb” and a “liar,” Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. invited her to speak at the college’s convocation.

Falwell said the school welcomes free speech and different political views. Liberty is a religious school and Falwell is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump.

Falwell’s statement that Liberty welcomes free speech contradicts a report from The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that said the college is one of the worst for free speech.

The ranking largely depended on the school’s censorship of the student newspaper, The Liberty Champion.

Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t responded to the public invitation yet.

“Even though Liberty University is a private institution that cherishes its Christian values, we also take pride in hosting high-profile speakers with different points of view,” Falwell wrote in an opinion piece published by Fox News over the weekend. “And we’re proud to report that our students don’t resort to violence when they encounter activists with whom they disagree.”

“We’re not afraid to expose our students to the views of those on the left – even the far left. We don’t think our students are delicate snowflakes who must be sheltered from free speech and the open exchange of competing ideas.”

He referenced a 2015 university event that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attended and former Democratic President Jimmy Carter’s speech at the university’s commencement last year.

“We invited them because we want our students to hear a diversity of viewpoints,” Falwell wrote. “This, after all, is why our founders created the First Amendment.”

Before Falwell extended the invitation, Ocasio-Cortez posted several tweets about statements Falwell has made during Conservative Political Action Conferences over the years. She included a statement he made at this year’s conference in which he said, “I’ve got 100 cows, you just let Alexandria Cortez show up at my house and try to take my cows away,” referencing her proposed Green New Deal.

Before that, Falwell mentioned his “boys” having guns. She implied the statement about his cows was also a threat to shoot her. In several retweets before his invitation, Falwell supporters said it was a joke and that the congresswoman “twists everything.”

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.