As Cal State Fresno prepares for an academic event featuring eco-terrorists, animal rights convicts, and their academic apologists, some local media are still loath to admit that anything is amiss. Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen is characterizing the event as a potential boon to the university, and whose only drawback could be the risk of “upsetting donors.”

After introducing the roster of criminals and terrorists scheduled to appear on campus later this week, McEwen writes: “If the conference goes off without a hitch, the school will have raised its academic profile. If it backfires, well, [Fresno State president John] Welty has been there before.” McEwen also gave terrorism supporter Rik Scarce a platform to insist that the Fresno event is all about “the promotion of free discussion.”

And, we might add, it’s a wonder that the New York City Council hasn’t invited members of Al Queda to a town meeting in order to better understand why they took down the World Trade Center. Free speech is a good thing, but it’s hardly foremost in the minds of zealots who believe in the violent destruction of our nation’s economy and culture.

Fresno area rancher and community leader John Harris weighed in yesterday as well, noting that thugs like Rodney Coronado, Paul Watson, and Craig Rosebraugh “thrive on publicity of their destructive ways, and just having them here puts us all at risk.”

Jim Ware, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, is also upset about the conference: “To bring them and their terrorism against agriculture in particular into the heart of an agricultural campus seems to be a real slap in the face of the community that has supported the university.”

Fresno State’s official commentary has been sparse, but political science department chair Mark Somma and Dean Ellen Gruenbaum tried to defend their judgment in this morning’s Bee. “We are a country that has learned to listen and adapt,” says Somma. “Our universities have a responsibility to open a conversation even in very difficult areas.”

Gruenbaum complained that the event, which she personally approved, is being “misrepresented” by opponents. We wonder exactly how it’s possible to misinterpret or skew the impact of a $40 million crime spree by people that the FBI considers “America’s most serious domestic terror threat.”

The “Revolutionary Environmentalism” conference is scheduled for Thursday and Friday with closed-door sessions. Only one event is even open to the media. “If the event is worth doing,” notes Mr. Harris, “why are they so embarrassed to open it up to the public?”

While the public is not welcome at Fresno State’s terror-palooza, we would like to invite you to make your feelings known. Click here to send a letter to Cal State Fresno president John Welty.