Last week I wrote my usual column for TKS. I compared Mitt Romney’s and President Obama’s job records. I concluded that Romney is more well versed in creating jobs than Obama. I looked at key companies revived by Bain Capital, Romney’s investment firm and the conservation of jobs that could’ve been lost if it wasn’t for Romney’s leadership.
I never intended for this article to be controversial. In fact, I was analyzing the first political ad that the Obama campaign put forth. Then came the Knox reaction. There were several people that found this article appalling (http://goo.gl/1Yv2H).
These individuals used Facebook to trash my article. Instead of providing insightful comments, they resorted to name calling. I was called a “nut” and “arrogant.” They mocked several sentences from my column and suggested fellow students write to the editor of TKS because their criticism had been too “easy” on me. All of this because I have different views from them, but thinking differently doesn’t make me crazy.
I’m not writing this column to address these people’s comments. I’m writing this column because we are a liberal arts college. I’m concerned for our college. If we react this way because of differences of opinion, are we going to welcome more students like myself who don’t necessarily fit the political views of the student body?
Knox College has a long-standing tradition of political discourse. For instance, the Lincoln-Douglas debates in which Knox — an anti-slavery institution — invited Douglas, who was for popular sovereignty, in order to decide whether slavery should remain legal. Douglas didn’t believe slavery was a moral issue. Knox was definitely on the opposite side.
This kind of debate embodies our college. As our newly-installed president, Dr. Teresa Amott said in her commencement speech, “And this is the beauty of the American liberal arts college — nowhere else on earth would people so different from one another live together in a community held together solely by learning.” She pointed out how Christians learn from Muslims, “rural dwellers from city dwellers, young from old, liberals from conservatives.” Dr. Amott couldn’t be more right.
I came to Knox College to learn from different views. I had a hunch that Knox was liberal, but I knew that that would make my college experience much more rewarding. But this is not the kind of attitude that I expected from Knox. I want disagreement, but I don’t want disrespect. I write to further other people’s values and my own. Discourse allows us to learn more from one another. Most importantly we learn more from ourselves when we surround each other with people that disagree with us. This kind of rude reaction doesn’t further anyone’s knowledge or values.
Name calling is not acceptable. Our current politics are jammed with it. For example, when the bishop of Peoria compared Obama to Stalin and Hitler, I called him out because I found it abhorrent. I didn’t want my faith to be tainted with these comments.
I want to ignite political dialogue. However, if you ever disagree with me and want to voice your opinion, do what Saskia Pellnat did. She wrote a “Letter to the Editor” to respond to one of my columns. Her tone was respectful and her comments had a lot of substance. Even though I disagree with her, I respect her for what she did.
This is the kind of attitude we need. Let’s disagree but let’s respect one another. Let’s encourage political diversity. Let’s be liberal arts.