Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Intolerant Tolerants

Fred Bills is a recent graduate (and future lawyer). He remembers a party he attended--
shall we say in his youth--at Ohio University, the political question raised, and how a conversation did not follow. He brings Harvard President Summers into his thought on toleration of diverse opinions on our colleges. Not bad. 

Discussions - 7 Comments

Mr. Bills:

"The following dialogue is not worth laying down here. I think we all know what follows in these types of "debates." The usual suspects ought to give you a sufficient taste: "Why did we invade Iraq?… Where are the WMDs?… Bush lied!… No war for oil!""

So, "why did we invade Iraq?" is an illegitimate question in discussing the current administration or our current military engagement there? And, indeed, considering that Bush and Co. put the WMDs forth as the primary and most urgent reason for invading Iraq, and nothing has been found, and other reasons have only been provided post-invasion, it seems that is also a legitimate question to ask.

Here are some of the "usual suspects" offered by the right during many a "debate" I’ve engaged in or witnessed in the last few years:

"You’re either with us or with the terrorists." (OR) "You’re either with us or against us."

"Why do you hate America?"

"Saying things like that hurts our troops - why don’t you support our troops??"

"So I guess you WANT there to be another terrorist attack, don’t you?"

"Never forget 9/11" - (As if that were remotely possible, even if someone wanted to do that purely for reasons of emotional health)

"People need to watch what they say" or "People need to watch what they do." - oh wait, those are from the White House press secretaries...

Mr. Schramm, if this mediocre, Limbaugh-esque essay merits even a single mug, then I’ve some serious questions about how much emphasis is put on excellence at Ashbrook. This is just a boring anecdote about how a fellow allegedly got kicked out of a party for having the wrong opinions. It is also missing a lot of the devilish details. Someone should have to buy me a cup of coffee for having suffered through reading it.

Good, so the fun begins. First off, I would suggest that you re-read the essay to understand what it is talking about (I’ll buy the cup of coffee). I know emotions can get high when some idea strikes you as being off.

First, I pose a question to you. Will you give me the chance to respond? Since the comment only addresses me in part, and then is directed to Dr. Schramm, I assume you believed that I would be too offended and scared by your criticism to offer a defense, so therefore went to my "mentor" Dr. Schramm...If so, you misunderestimated me. I’m willing to give it a shot.

So here we go: the point of the essay had nothing to do with the war. The "usual suspects" as I referred to them had everything to do with anti-war college kids listing off the "undeniable" truths about the war that automatically undermine the possibility of it being justified in their minds. This needs clarification. The "usual suspects, I believe, are axioms to which they adhere that ends discussion because, for them, there can be no answer. They have accepted a mantra uncritically, and it becomes not only an opinion but also a "feeling." Since we all know that "feelings" can’t be wrong, discussion and debate end and ideological mudslinging begins. Education, then, dies. (It is similar to the judgment that the Constitution and Declaration have no moral worth because they are "racist" documents)

The empirical evidence of this is shown when I am thrown out of a party for asking one question and immediately being attacked, without being asked why I thought the way I did (so long as my question was legitimate. I never implied the mantras they threw at me were not legitimate quesitons, I only wish they would have granted me the opportunity to respond...oh well, you have. A debate about the war can be next).

Herein, then, lies the crticism of the Left’s understanding of "diversity" and "tolerance." They are spoken of as if they have intrinsic worth. That I don’t understand. It is possible to imagine, for example, situations in which the toleration of a thing (Nazi Germany), and diversity (allowing a party with the sole purpose of mass genocide to gain support in the U.S.) would be harmful to the American political regime. Also, these mantras have seeminlgy only given birth to and perverted the very thing they were adopted to fight; mainly discrimination. I believe this is a result of the way in which they are held. They are not goods in and of themselves, but rather have value according to certain contexts. In other words, their value is contingent.

Also, in no way do I begin to imply in my essay that the Right has not sometimes done the same thing. They most certainly have, and such action is shameful as well. Here’s an interesting story, however. I’ve been a Democrat my entire life, was actively involved with the AU Young Democrats, and pushed for Kerry in November. All this at Ashland University...shocking no? And in my experience at Ashland and at the Ashbrook Center I’ve met and engaged in serious conversation with many Right and far-Right people and not been shunned by having an opposing idea. Rather, I was encouraged to discuss and debate my views (the frustrations of Dr. Schramm can confirm as much). Such has not been the case in those instances where I disagreed with the Left. On the contrary, similar events as my experience in the essay took place.

Last,don’t be so absurd as to judge the excellence of the Ashbrook Center by the quality of one essay written by one of its students. That’s a dangerous slippery-slope judgment.

Next up war if you’re willing. Remember, I’ll have the coffee kept warm.

Mr. Wynn, I disagree with you. The current indictment against the Left-controlled colleges around the country has been, by necessity, built on such anecdotes. This is a good one, and accurately reflects what is occurring.

As for our reasons for going to war in Iraq, my problem with liberals is their insincerity in asking the question. Ok, one of the two major reasons we went to war was the existence AND THE POTENTIAL of WMD. The reports and investigations all point out that, while huge stockpiles of WMDs haven’t been found, the infrastructure to make them and the intent to make them did exist. The other major reason was Saddam’s traffic with terrorists. Check out this link, please:

Hussein and Terror

Of course, asking the question can itself be evidence of bad faith...the Left isn’t interested in solid reasons for doing so. ANY war perpetrated by AMERIKA is by nature WRONG. You people are just don’t seem to realize it.

Also, I suppose Limbaugh-esque essays are supposed to be an insult? I’m actually kind of flattered. I’m must be stupid.

Fred, was that excessive sarcasm in your last comment, or are you really a Kerry-appreciating Democrat who is also a Rush Limbaugh fan? A rare specimen, I’d say.

I have been a Democrat and did push for Kerry my entire life. I don’t know if I am "Kerry-appreciating." It’s been a long, slow conversion process I guess, but we know what Churchill said...I guess my head is beginning to take the place of my heart. But to poke fun at an essay’s quality by calling it Limbaugh-esque to me seems pretty silly, and I would take it as a compliment merely because of Limbaugh’s political clout.

I agree with your point about "intellectual integrity," I hardly believe that using a discussion in a bar at OU is a fair example of the Left’s "intolerance" to opposing opinions. Uh, dude, your like arguing with drunkards. Of course they’ll call you names.

By the way, I recently sat in a bar with a current Ashbrook Scholar and had a pretty civil debate in which no names were thrown by me. It was a good time, and although I had a hard time hearing him over the country music in the jukebox, he made some good points which I am willing to consider. I hope he felt the same way about my points.

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