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Emory's Illiberalism By: J.T. Fetter
EmoryWheel.com | Wednesday, April 07, 2004


In his treatise on moral philosophy, the Ethics, Aristotle describes 11 virtues that we should all try to live by. Unfortunately for the campus left, tolerance is not one of them.

As most people know by now, leftists in the College Council and administration have prevented several conservatives from coming to campus, including David Horowitz and pro-Israel speaker Dennis Prager, and groups like the Black Student Alliance ensure that conservative speakers who are invited get a very hostile reception.

Incidentally, there is no problem with inviting controversial leftists such as Ralph Nader, Jello Biafra, Michael Moore or even Mary Robinson, our next Commencement speaker and the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. She condoned a resolution approving suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as a lawful means of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

However, leftist intolerance goes far beyond preventing conservative speakers from coming to campus or disrupting their presentations when they do come, and it has poisoned relationships among students and even among faculty members. As we all know, a left-leaning anthropology professor was lambasted and almost had her career ruined when she used the n-word self-referentially in a departmental faculty meeting, and many students, including members of the College Council, tried to portray this incident as part of a broader pattern of racial intolerance.

All this resulted from one word said among fellow professors and not directed at anyone — an incident that should have been dealt with rationally and calmly among those very same professors and had no business stirring up a campus-wide controversy.

Previously, many black students who questioned the sanity of the BSA’s reaction to Horowitz were essentially ostracized from the black community on campus for a period of time for not towing the party line.

Of course, these are only a few of the incidents of such intolerance, but there is simply not space to lay out the full extent of leftist suppression of discussion or the staging of controversies.

But so what, you might ask? Isn’t the far right equally intolerant of opposing views?

Yes, of course. Many people on the far right have very little understanding for those who have different opinions from their own, coupled with an equal amount of difficulty using logic. However, the far right is almost completely unrepresented on the campuses of diverse and highly-ranked universities, such as Emory, and they therefore have no impact on which speakers are invited to campus or which political views are tolerated in discussions among students.

Additionally, the far right does not claim to be tolerant or open-minded, and racism, sexism and homophobia are openly espoused as pillars of radical rightist ideologies. The left, on the other hand, claims not only to be tolerant but also to have a monopoly on tolerance. After all, intolerance is not to be tolerated, and since every view with which the left disagrees is almost automatically branded as intolerant, only views with which the left agrees should be tolerated.

But why should such silliness have any place in an educated community of mature adults such as our own?

Why should former participants in the civil rights movement, such as Horowitz, have their speeches disrupted by the very groups for whom they once fought?

Why should students who question the status quo be labeled as racists, bigots and even Fascists?

Because the left on this and other campuses has ingeniously shielded itself with the doctrine of moral relativism; i.e. the idea that there is no absolutely right or wrong answer to any question and that we cannot judge others as being good or evil.

One would initially think that such a doctrine would promote tolerance, but in fact, it gives intolerant leftists a ready-made fall-back position whenever someone uses logic to refute their positions. Logic with its absolutes and exacting precision is, after all, almost useless in a world filled with shades of gray, and since it was developed by dead white men in antiquity anyway, it is probably sexist and racist as well — not to mention the people who dare to use it.

Therefore, as Joseph Goebbels taught us all too well, anything can become the truth if it is repeated often enough and people want to believe it — insights that the campus left has built upon with great success.

And until the left is disabused of these aforementioned notions and taught to use reason, as the rest of us do, controversial speakers will continue to be turned away, students who step out of line will continue to be marginalized and, in the near term, we will likely relive much the same fiasco that followed the first Horowitz speech when he comes to campus again on April 15.

—J.T. Fetter is a College junior from Sterling, Va.




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