Columns / Discourse / November 17, 2010

Observing America: A reflection on fall term

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress,” Mohandas Gandhi said. Writing political columns almost always attracts disagreement. Being a columnist for this term at The Knox Student (TKS) has been a fascinating experience since it allowed me to develop opinions, to convey opinions and to attract readers that disagree. The latter one deserves more attention. I have encountered several people on TKS’s website who vehemently disagree with me without the intent to have a cordial and intellectual conversation but only to criticize or judge my views.

Granted, I’m a pretty conservative person. In fact, I consider myself a paleoconservative, which is a conservative that goes way back to British philosopher, Edmund Burke, who believed in a moral order given by God, in the rule of law (meaning a strict constructionist) and in a traditional culture. I understand that Knox College is the exact opposite. I would categorize Knox as being fairly liberal; however, that does not mean that I would demonize Knox’s general liberal views. I applaud that there are people from the left who are passionate about their views since, like every political entity, they need an opposite force that would keep the faction in check. But my concern is the language that is used to disagree with my columns.

The current political sphere is driven by inflammatory speech. First of all, I’m thankful people read my columns since it feels great to hear that people care about what I think. Yet comments that are posted on my columns at the TKS website do require a more tolerant mood. It is sickening when people from both the left and the right call each other names or express themselves to undermine people who disagree. For example, the painting of a Hitler moustache on President Obama’s face by the extreme right is completely offensive. In no way, shape or form is what President Obama is doing close to the monstrosities Hitler committed against to Slavs, Jews, homosexuals, political prisoners, etc. Now the same goes for the extreme left when they also portrayed President Bush as Adolf Hitler. Our politics need to be more moderate and civil so that political discussions become inclusive instead of exclusive.

So why am I writing this column? Well, I’m someone who tolerates disagreement; in fact, I want people to disagree with me since discussion is the best form of intellect. But I want people to give me substance to their arguments instead of personal attacks that undermine my prime intent to create an intellectual political discussion. Individuals from political extremes ought not to control political debates. People from the sane left and right ought to control debates. This is the point that I’m trying to impart to my fellow readers. I want people who vehemently disagree with my columns online to be more politically inclusive and to keep an open mind on views that go against their own. If a conservative like me can attend a liberal college like Knox and get along with people, then so can liberals from Knox get along with the few conservatives at Knox. At the end, what matters is that people are able to talk about their views and enjoy a respectful conversation.

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