What happened to intelligent debate?
I’ve asked myself this question many times during the past few weeks, especially whenever I am campaigning with the College Republicans in the academic mall.
During the times I’ve been at the table, passing out stickers and trying to keep the cardboard cutout of John McCain from blowing away in the wind, at least one person has walked by and made some inane statement about what that person thinks we believe. Usually these statements are something to the effect of: Republicans hate minorities or Republicans want people to die.
What bothers me most about this is not the fact that these are very untrue statements, but that the student saying these ridiculous things don’t even allow us time to reply. They just keep walking.
I would not be opposed to having an intelligent conversation with anyone on campus about political issues. There are always two sides to an issue, and I believe strongly enough in my side to want to discuss the differences between the two sides.
However, I do not appreciate being attacked, and attacking is what I feel some people do.
Let me reveal something to these people: Making a blanket statement and running away hardly makes me respect you or your arguments. If you have something to say, say it, defend it, and be confident enough to wait for a response from your audience. Walking away just makes you look cowardly.
If Barack Obama acted this way, would he have the same following with people that he has now? I really don’t think so. If he didn’t stick around to defend his positions, no one would respect him.
He is obviously not my choice for president, but I respect him much more than I respect NMU students who barbarically yell some false accusation at me across the mall and immediately leave before I can respond. Honestly, do people really think Republicans want Americans to die? In case you were wondering, we don’t.
To be fair, I know there are probably Republicans who are guilty of shouting untruths and leaving before a response can be made, too (though I don’t personally know any), and there are Democrats who do engage in intelligent debate (I have a few friends who fit that description). But the majority of people who acknowledge the College Republicans when we are in the academic mall do so in this immature manner.
The debate between the College Democrats and College Republicans last Wednesday proved to be an evening of intelligent debate, for the most part. Both sides were generally respectful, but when the question and answer portion of the debate came, I began to notice a shift in the tone. Many of the students posed questions that were indirect attacks on either the Democrats or the Republicans.
There were a few who posed serious, well-thought-out questions, but it seemed many more students just wanted to force one of the parties to say something radical and stereotypical to give the audience a good laugh. I couldn’t help but notice the majority of these types of backhanded questions were directed at the College Republicans. This is not surprising on this campus, but it is disheartening.
The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” may be something for everyone to keep in mind during election season. If anyone wants respect, he must act in a way that deserves respect.
Of course I don’t expect Democrats or Republicans to always be nice to each other, but I don’t think it would be too hard to treat each other with respect. We are all educated, civilized human beings.
Let’s act like it.