A Profile In Political Courage, Charlie Steen (1919-2006)

by George Lawson

America’s appetite for political correctness in our teaching and political institutions is replacing truth, reality and just plain common sense. 

Those who do speak the truth are labeled badly and condemned by the media and the left.  Every once in awhile a politician with courage and conviction will embrace a. “Damn the Torpedoes Full Speed Ahead” philosophy. But when they do, they generally go it alone.  

The story of Charlie Steen is like that. One has to wonder what kind of nation we would have today without bold politicians such as Charlie Steen had been, and why we need to vote against those who are afraid to offend.

Even more important, we need to be very vocal in the defense of those who do speak the truth. We cannot allow myth and revisionism to replace what should be said.

Charlie Steen put southern Utah on the map with a major uranium discovery back in the early fifties when this country was very much concerned about being able to produce it’s own uranium.

Charlie Steen also had a somewhat reluctant political career. After he was immensely successful in the uranium industry, a group of his friends urged him to run for state senator. 

He had been a non-Mormon who got elected as a state senator in Utah. Quite an accomplishment on it’s own. 

One of his first acts as a state senator was to anger the Mormon establishment by introducing a bill to sell alcohol-by-the-drink, in Utah. 

However, one of the truly most significant moments of Charlie’s political career was in 1958, when he made a stunning speech to a group of college alumni

The alumni association of Texas Western College had invited Steen to attend the annual homecoming banquet. He’d been a 1943 graduate. The association presented Charlie with the outstanding student award. Charlie stood to a round of applause and approval and gave his “acceptance” speech

“I know the proper way in which to accept this award. I am expected to say thank you and sit down . However in as much as I did not seek this award, and as Dean Thomas reminded me last night that I was the only son-of-a-bitch he knew who made a career at being one, and was a success as a result, you need not accept a proper response….”

Charlie then listed some of the courses in the college catalog, including “Brokerage, Radio-Listening as an Aid to Elementary Teaching, Public Relations, Jewelry Construction and Baton Twirling.” 

He suggested some more subjects they might want to adopt, such as, “Beer Guzzling, a course on how to Chug-a-Lug beer out of a gallon pitcher without getting a permanent crease on the bridge of your nose, Mexican Relations, how to get to Juarez and keep enough money to get back across the bridge, the Art of Tobaccos, how to chew tobacco and not dribble it on your chin.”

And he went on from there.

When he took his seat no one applauded and some booed. His companions left the table.

Charlie Steen’s point was that worthless degrees are destroying academic excellence. Colleges today seem cluttered with worthless people, taking worthless course. Many are there on the taxpayers dime. 

Time and money are wasted on worthless degrees.   Great institutions are going downhill because of extreme liberalism.  

George Orwell:  If liberty means anything at all it means telling people things they do not want to hear.

Like Charlie Steen.