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Rights of Dissent and Opposition

Reader comment on item: Profs Who Hate America

Submitted by Richard M. Weiner (United States), Nov 12, 2002 at 17:51

Commenter Maxine Cohen asks "Shouldn't there be dissenting voices? And if not, why not?"

I do not believe that Daniel Pipes is arguing that dissent should be stifled in the university setting. Rather, I believe that he truly holds dear the right of individuals, including professors, to share their opposing viewpoints. He is merely pointing out the obvious fact that there are radically left political perspectives that find safe harbor unopposed within the academic community. And yes, there are also radically right crusaders in our educational institutions, and every political spectrum in between.

In my opininon, this is as it should be in an educational system that is crafted to foster an environment committed to higher learning. We should cherish pointedly biased commentary from any political perspective, and then critique and advocate for, or dissent from those viewpoints. It is intellectually bankrupt to afford professors and pundits the opportunity to expouse one perspective alone (liberal, conservative, moderate, or whatever political labels find favor that day), without valid examination into the validity or fallacy of those viewpoints, and the results which would reasonably flow from those viewpoints if adopted by our society and government. We must afford the radical left, radical right, and every perspective in between and all along the political spectrum, the opportunity to voice their opinions.

However, those opinions, being just that, should not be afforded status as being absolute truth. They must be dissected, interpreted, challenged, studied and comprehended, until such time as students and the others in the audience of such pundits can form their own informed opinion as to the validity of the positions being so freely espoused in our academic institutions.

I would fight to the death for another's right to crucify and criticize our government, or to support our government's positions on issues (popular or unpopular), as untold thousands have done so throughout our history as a nation. But those same patriotic Americans also fought for the existence of reasoned discourse and the intercourse in the marketplace of ideas. Some may prove more rational than others, but, absent the debate, we cannot blindly subscribe to any one viewpoint. Absent such intellectual analysis, we are merely spores and microbes, lemmings falling off the cliff. Our status as intelligent lifeforms demands that we exercise our brain, and not merely allow and accept the rants and raves from any political institutions or groups.

I grow tired of the "liberals" bashing our government and our foreign policy. Likewise, I grow weary of "conservatives" questioning the patriotism of those same "liberals" without offering any real analysis of the bold positions asserted by those same "liberals".

In this regard, I am generally quite pleased with Dr. Pipes' willingness to analyze and discuss the opinions of those with whom he disagrees, to lay his reputation on the line, to offer his perspective and to facilitate discussion supporting the competing political viewpoints.

By the way, I consider myself progressive on domestic social issues, and hawkishly conservative on foreign policy and our allies. But, at no time, do I find myself to be an ideologue, who accepts any one person, party or government's position on all issues. I hope that others believe as I do, that we must constantly analyze and rethink our positions, and engage in a debate to create a better world for our children than the one we leave behind.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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