Event misses opportunity for discussion

In today’s politically charged climate, a pundit doesn’t have to have the polarizing personality of Ann Coulter or Keith Olberman to spark a contentious debate.

Commentators whose views do fall very far to one side of the political spectrum or the other still have the enviable position of sparking an open debate, but only if both sides are willing to do more than shout across a divide.

David Horowitz’s invitation to speak on campus last week — sponsored by the USC College Republicans — had the potential to do more than simply create a division. Unfortunately, neither constituency of students — those in favor of his visit, and those opposed — recognized the opportunity for dialogue, leaving both sides with backs turned and eyes closed.

The announcement of Horowitz’s visit incited a firestorm of opposition from a number of student groups — from Students for Justice in Palestine to Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation — all of whom felt the university owed it to its students to bar the speaker from campus, citing intolerant views that don’t jibe with USC’s policy of nondiscrimination.

The USC College Republicans’ response was to bar some students from attending the event, because of a “concern regarding the safety of [their] speaker.”

Wednesday night’s speech brought with it a tableau all too familiar to the world of politics. Protestors who were able to gain entry stood up during the event, turned their backs on Horowitz and were promptly ushered out by Department of Public Safety officers. Outside, protestors shouted and gestured, touting signs with slogans like, “His hate speech is violating my free speech.”

Horowitz imparted his views on students who were already set to agree with those perspectives, and few came away reassessing their convictions.

The USC College Republicans had every right to turn away protestors as a private campus group and the financiers of the event — that much is certain. As a political organization, however, they shot themselves in the foot by not fostering a more open debate.

Groups that wished to bar the figure from campus were equally stubborn.

Ultimately, both sides had an opportunity to create an open debate, and neither side chose to pursue it. After all, political conversation requires just that: conversation. Two discordant groups of students shouting over each other produces nothing more than a cacophonous din.

Hopefully, in the future, when controversial figures are invited to campus, their presence will promote an organized conversation about political ideologies. Both groups can listen to the speakers, after which they can discuss — through a sponsored forum — their ideas.

If this event proves anything, it is that when opposing parties are content to let ideological divides prevent productive discourse, all that remains in the middle is anger.

Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production, and is the Daily Trojan’s editorial director.

7 replies
  1. Joseph Clark
    Joseph Clark says:

    This article is absolutely typical of liberal media’s pattern when responding to conservative ideas.

    Step 1: Behave like animals. Kick, bite, screech, scream, disrupt others speech by any means necessary.
    Step 2: Write articles insisting that it was all the conservatives’ fault because they were racists or something.
    Step 3: When people call you on your asinine behavior, fall back to the argument that “Well, both sides are just as bad”.

    Both sides are not just as bad. America is waking up to the rhetorical tricks that have served the left so well since they killed JFK and replaced him with Saul Alinsky.

  2. Ali
    Ali says:

    Sorry about the link not coming through. It was a BBC interviews with a Muslim who attended the same mosque as Hasan did. The interviewed Muslim praised Hasan as a hero.

    I suppose the Left believes Hasan was driven to it by this, that, or the other thing, but they would never, ever say it was because Islam is a supremacist religion founded by a facist who practiced and preached about the need for Islam to conquer until there were no more free non-Muslims.

    Yeah, it’s Israel’s fault. That is why 4,000 Buddhists have been murdered by Islamists in Southern Thailand.

    Again, sorry the link did not come through. It was amazing to hear what this Muslim had to say. Just as Horowitz described.

  3. Ali
    Ali says:

    I hope the following link comes thru:

    Muslim at Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, Texas: “I honestly have no pity” for victims of the Fort Hood jihad

    If it did this is the sort of Muslim Horowitz spoke about. I could send you a thousand more links just like this.

    Horowitz spoke the truth and the Left is too busy blaming America for everything because, well, because it makes them feel better about themselves.

  4. TJ
    TJ says:

    Left Wingers are typically pious. And their religion is devoid of Reason.
    They think (FEEL) that they know more than others, so they get (FEEL) upset when others question their premises in a rational way, as did David Horowitz. Because Lefties are partisan ideologues, they emotionally have to silence those around them who disagree with them. They cannot engage in rational debate, because, if they do, they know, from experience, that they will lose.
    Listening to someone emotionally vent their pent up feelings is like being next to someone with “bad breath”. They are walking volcanoes, full of anger, frustration & hate. And they have to turn the tables on rational people as a strategy to deflect criticism of their emotionally held convictions. Pathetic.
    It’s really just a matter of Feeling vs. Reason.
    Lefties in this country are really no different than the Muslims in other countries with their fists in the air, shouting hateful, angry speech & putting others (including their own wives) into prison-like submission.
    After all, what does “Islam” mean? You got it. SUBMISSION.

  5. Diane
    Diane says:

    Lucy attempts to place herself in the “sane middle” while ignoring a few inconvenient truths:

    Conservative speakers are often not ALLOWED to express themselves at campus events when protesters are given their “full right of expresssion” (a simple Google search can net you this information). Conservative speakers have been forced to cut short remarks, move to different locations, attacked by students hurling items, and cancel speeches — all because discourtesy and incivility are apparently not only acceptable but desired traits in left wing protesters.

    Proof: Read article, above. The Lefties wanted to PREVENT student from being able to hear or discuss Horowitz’ views. Get that, Lucy? The College Republicans were TRYING to foster an open expression of ideas, and the Lefties wanted to STIFLE it.

    So, the CR was forced to take action to try to allow Horowitz the simple courtesy, offered to so many controversial speakers on the Left, to express his viewpoint in a civilized forum.

    Both sides did not miss the boat here, Lucy. Make no mistake; only one side is devoted to eradicating free speech, as your own depiction of the goings-on attests.

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