Encouraging bipartisan communication
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James Carville, legendary political commentator turned Tulane professor, spoke on a panel with three other notable scholars on Jan. 17. One of the panelists, James Hartman, a well-regarded Republican political consultant and Tulane alum engaged in discussion with Carville. At one point, Hartman made an excellent point, which prompted Carville to say “it is an honor to share a panel with an honest Republican.”
This election cycle, we experienced numerous occasions of political discourse turning nasty on campus. From the “Trump Wall” at Kappa Alpha fraternity to the Spring Activities Expo, it seems that we have forgotten how to communicate as young scholars. When we lose sight of the humanity of our peers and put our views over the existence of fellow Tulanians, we have lost sight of the mission of higher education.
We come to college to be educated and to grow. We come here to be challenged and to broaden our worldview. In order for these things to happen, it is imperative that we are exposed to and challenged by perspectives other than our own. If we are all too quick to jump to anger, how are we supposed to agree to disagree? Resorting to nastiness, name-calling and negativity does not make our democracy stronger.
We applaud the various academic departments at Tulane who invite speakers and hold panels for honest debate. We encourage students to attend events outside of class and to seek out discourse with people whose views differ from their own. We urge Tulane departments to bring in more conservative speakers to lecture on campus. We urge the university to commit itself strenuously to improving civil discourse as a tool of democracy in this next generation of college graduates. Now more than ever, it is essential to understand how different scholars think about global issues.
Every day, we see our government leaders fail to make compromises. We cannot allow the public arena on our campus to be so dysfunctional. Be here to learn. Be here to grow. Be here to have your voice heard and to engage in conversation with others. You do not have to agree, but you do have to be respectful.