La Rouche. The name alone raises at least an eyebrow, if not a question or two among students on campus.
Since the 1970s, when Lyndon La Rouche emerged as one of the most controversial international political figures of his time and presidential hopeful, members of his subversive revolutionary political network have been dedicated to voicing an ideology critical of the U.S. military-industrial complex, globalization, and its threat to “developing” nations.
While political zeal is common among the group’s organizers, representatives of La Rouche have targeted students on local community college campuses with particular force.
They make semi-regular appearances on the Glendale Community College campus at a familiar folding table stacked with pamphlets and booklets that discuss thought-provoking political theory, economics, art, music and culture. The table is attractive to the average intellectually curious student. However, one hoping to do no more or less than to learn about this group from a personal distance may be misled.
According to a GCC staff member who wishes to go unnamed, La Rouche representatives have been organizing on GCC’s campus for about four years. Like many different political groups, solicitors and vendors who come to campus, members of the La Rouche campaign must sign an agreement with the college, limiting their distribution of printed materials and their use of assembly areas.
La Rouche representatives normally maintain a level of propriety, but on another college campus, in particular Pasadena City College, they become involved in controversy.
The PCC newspaper, the Courier, has reported a stream of interactions with representatives on their campus since November, negatively depicting the organization.
In the Nov. 15, 2001, issue of the Courier, the story of about student referred to as Tom (not his real name) detailed his deep involvement with the La Rouche organization, devoting his life to its activities full time. Eventually, his parents hired a cult “deprogrammer” to free Tom from the group’s influence. Today, Tom, who has worked with the Courier on a couple of stories and now wants to be a journalist, advocates investigating and exposing La Rouche.
At one point, Tom brought to the Courier a box of at least 1,500 different pieces of literature on communication techniques, said Courier editor Matthew Robinson. One work, called “Spring Cleaning for the Mind,” is, according to Robinson, a guide to manipulating communication patterns so that one’s argument is always stronger than that of one’s opponent.
The March 14 issue reported the organization’s negative reaction to “Tom’s story, leading to a verbal and physical confrontation between representatives on campus and Robinson, the story’s author. A fellow Courier staff member, Andrew Campa, the assistant sports editor, witnessed the altercation. The Pasadena Star-News reported on the confrontation in its main news section.
Most recently, La Rouche’s supporters have been carrying out an intense campaign against Robinson. About seven weeks ago, as Robinson recalled, those offended by the article visited the office of Mikki Bolliger, faculty adviser of the Courier, with a tape recorder and video camera, attempting to coerce her, Robinson and Campa to incriminate themselves.
Soon after Bolliger could eject the individuals from her office, the unexpected began.
According to Bolliger, members of the La Rouche organization slid derogatory notes about Robinson under faculty office doors, e-mailed faculty and staff with the same message, and, the most unlikely event, managed to send derogatory material about Robinson to every fax machine on campus. They had even obtained the fax number of PCC Superintendent-President Dr. James Kossler, who had only recently installed the new machine.
Robinson said that the campaign to harm his reputation is ongoing. La Rouche organizers have drafted a petition to remove him from his position as editor. They assemble frequently in the PCC quad with a copy of the Courier in hand, he said, spreading word to students that his ethics are questionable, linking him to the Jewish Defense League and claiming that he is a danger to the campus.
“It’s constant bombardment,” said Robinson. He said he keeps a bottle of Advil on his desk for the intermittent stress headaches.
While he tries to hold his ground, Robinson wants the situation to end soon. He is currently preparing to hand off his position to Campa in the Fall 2002 semester.
On Thursday, El Vaquero approached La Rouche representatives at GCC for a story on their organization. When asked questions on how their organization recruits student members, at what rate, and how much money they take in donations from GCC students, they refused to comment.
When challenged, one representative, named Cody, stated, “We have nothing to hide.” However, he avoided all proceeding questions by engaging in argument.
Cody said that El Vaquero’s questions were irrelevant.
When asked simply for facts on their operations, a nearby representative, named Elizabeth, said, “The Nazis gathered a lot of facts [in their research], too.”