What does it mean to be political? Media and other “very important people” tell us it means to disagree civilly over public policy and politically correct narratives. However, when these constraints confine political discussion, politics suffer and cease to be politics. Being political means there will be times when you’re uncomfortable with what the opposition is saying, but that’s the nature of politics; that’s why you oppose them. If you’re uncomfortable discussing controversial political issues, find a new interest. Strangely enough, when conservatives are uncomfortable, we’re told to expand our minds and broaden our horizons. When liberals feel uncomfortable they don’t need to expand their minds, instead they’re allowed to claim there is something wrong with conservatives.
Instead of addressing the issues at the heart of the political narrative, many are trained to react by calling us racist, homophobic, sexist or bigots, ignoring the discussion completely. This is counterproductive. Hiding behind these terms surrenders your argument to the other side, demonstrating an inability to combat their argument. The same logic applies to any political discourse between two opposing sides and couldn’t apply more to the political discourse between the UCSB College Republicans, who desire to bring David Horowitz to campus, and those who oppose this effort by calling the speaker racist, Islamophobic and bigoted.
David Horowitz is a controversial speaker, however any other speaker the College Republicans could have brought to discuss the idea of stealth Jihad by Islamists (not students) within American institutions or Middle Eastern problems would be equally controversial. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Robert Spencer, Andrew McCarthy or Tom Tancredo would have generated the same amount of opposition and the same onslaught of name-calling. These activists are national figures and are players within the debate on militant Islam, with some coming from the societies they speak of. Repressing this debate within society is detrimental because it prevents good ideas from being elevated while simultaneously preventing their shortcomings from being discarded. If this topic is so irrelevant and racist, why are there classes in national security and governmental agencies that focus exclusively on this issue? I urge you, regardless of your predisposition to David Horowitz or the topic he discusses, to approach the event as an opportunity to challenge or expand your current beliefs, not as an opportunity to disrupt an event that tackles serious national security issues.
Further, to Horowitz’s credit, he has launched an admirable campaign to institutionalize an academic bill of rights, which has three goals some professors should pay attention to. First, it ensures that instructors provide students with materials that reflect both sides of controversial issues. Second, it ensures that instructors not present opinions as facts. And third, it ensures that instructors allow students to think for themselves. I can say firsthand most UCSB classes are not failing the third goal; at least the professors I choose to learn from aren’t, and most pass the test of separating fact from opinion and present both sides. However, I know all students haven’t been so lucky or choosy with their professors; even though I’ve been impressed with the UCSB Political Science Dept., there are a handful of other departments that need to be checked with such a bill of rights. Hopefully Horowitz will address some more points of his academic bill of rights in his lecture May 26 in I.V. Theater 2. Hope to see you there.
Daily Nexus conservative columnist Ben Parish has already bought his ticket.