The Kansas City Public Library is one of the rare public institutions in America–and perhaps the only one in the region–that respects conservative writers and speakers. On Monday, October 9, at 6:30 p.m., one such writer, Brad Birzer, will speak about the subject of his recent biography, Russell Kirk, at the Plaza Branch of the Library.
Kirk is widely credited as one of the founders of the conservative movement in America. “No one has had a greater role in the formation of American conservative thought,” said the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia about Kirk, the author of some 30 books, including the 1953 classic, The Conservative Mind. Brad Birzer is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and a professor of history at Michigan’s Hillsdale College.
In 2005, Crosby Kemper III took over the leadership of the Library. As a former UMB CEO and co-founder with Rex Sinquefield of the free market think thank, the Show-Me-Institute, Kemper had a different background than the average library director. He put it to good use, launching one of the most aggressive and arguably the most ideologically balanced programming efforts in the country.
That the Kansas City Public Library is open to conservative authors should not be newsworthy. In this part of the world, it should be normative, but it is not. The Kansas City public radio station, KCUR, is hostile to conservatives. The public TV station, KCPT, is only a little better.
The universities–KU, MU, UMKC–have close to no conservative programming and what they have is presented as “controversial.” When young conservative author Ben Shapiro, a Harvard graduate, spoke at the University of Missouri campus the event made national news for all the hubbub it created.
“If you’re a conservative on this campus, your voice is definitely diminished,” one young Republican told the Columbia Missourian at the time. “Even if you’re informed about your opinion and you know how things work, you’re still a little ostracized on campus. We’ve had students come up and tell us how their professors don’t acknowledge their opinion, berate their opinion or belittle their opinion. This is a reoccurring issue.”
There should be no belittling or berating Monday evening at the Plaza Library. Admission is free. Reservations are suggested.