Commentaries Written By Tom Fuentes While a Student at Chapman University Unearthed!

Next to a picture of Walt Disney and Walter Knott together, one of the most famous OC historical artifacts that may or may not exist is a newspaper clipping detailing something that former OC GOP head Tom Fuentes was involved in during his student years, something that dares not speak its name. That clip, if it does indeed exist, is in the bowels of some Orange County archive or other, or in the safe of current GOP boss Scott Baugh, so in the meanwhile Fuentes observers will have to content themselves with two op-ed pieces Fuentes wrote while a student at Chapman College (now University, and my alma mater) during the late 1960s showing that even then, Fuentes was a raging wacko.

Gracias, source, and cue the microfilm!

The first one appeared in the Nov. 15, 1968 issue of the Chapman Panther and dealt with a campus appearance by then state senator-forever wacko John G. Schmitz. Fuentes was already head-over-heels for Schmitz, who visited Chapman for a Young Republicans meeting to give a lecture on “The Crisis in California Higher Education.” Fuentes was the conservative counterpoint to a liberal takedown of Schmitz's speech. In his piece headlined “One Reporter's 'Biased' Opinion About Reactionary State Senator J. Schmitz,” Fuentes actually did a good job of just reporting the facts, and the facts alone, save for the part where he described Schmitz as a “solon,” an antiquated term even then for a statesman, and one used only when trying to slather praise on someone.

Much more entertaining was something Fuentes wrote nearly a year later, in the Oct. 17, 1969 issue of the Panther. Fuentes took issue with Chaplain Bill Carpenter, who helped to organize an anti-Vietnam War protest at Chapman. “When I opened to the inside pages [of the Panther] and read all about the war Moratorium, I found exactly what you always find wherever you find doves…and I don't mean bird seed, either.”

Tee-hee! Fuentes made a funny! He went on to call Carpenter the “number one radical instigator” at Chapman who promoted “every left-wing cause that comes along,” among which was the grape strikers at Delano (isn't it nice to know that even then, Fuentes was a self-hating Mexican?) and demanded the college fire Carpenter. He also wasn't cool with protests in general, saying anyone who thought that academic freedom meant the ability to speak out against unpopular topics “precisely demonstrate[s] the total misuse and lack of understanding of the true concept of academic freedom that currently exists in leftist Academia.”

Fuentes was biting the hand that was feeding him, though. Carpenter was a chaplain for the Disciples of Christ, the college that founded Chapman and was playing a much-bigger role in campus life then than it does today. In 1969, the church was starting to sour on the Vietnam War, going so far as to endorse granting amnesty to draft-dodgers in 1973. Fuentes, on the other hand, was a Catholic in the era of the reprehensible Cardinal James Francis McIntyre of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (the Diocese of Orange hadn't been formed yet), so asking Chapman to fire Carpenter was like asking the Catholic hierarchy to turn in pedophile priests to the police.

Any of you out there have old Fuentes clippings? Any of you have the Holy Grail? Send 'em along!

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