Donald Trump said many indefensible things during his campaign, and some of these careless and stupid comments excited the KKK and other bigots, but the vast majority of the over 60 million people who voted for him are not bigots and cannot be ignored. The Steve Bannon appointment does not help change what I believe is a flawed leftist idea that Trump is a racist, xenophobic, sexist, white supremacist, fascist monster. However, he has apologized for many of his painfully ridiculous comments, clarified that not all Mexicans are rapists, said that most Muslims in the United States are peaceful, decided that same-sex marriage is a done deal, and disavowed his racist supporters. I truly hope that Trump surprises me and many others and somehow becomes a great President, but I must issue a challenge to Wesleyan after reading the “How The Argus Intends to Cover a Trump Presidency” Editorial. The Argus editors rightly point out that Trump’s call to “make America great again” is problematic, but it is ludicrous to state that this slogan is “a yearning for a bygone era and a thinly veiled tribute to an age before the Civil Rights Act, before the esteem of white identity was bruised by the small strides toward the empowerment of marginalized people secured therein. This call, and the rest of the rhetoric surrounding it, is an unequivocal appeal to white nationalism.” There is nothing unequivocally racist about a dumb, vague campaign slogan, which may be directed at adding more jobs to America, reducing the role of government, maintaining America’s sovereignty in an age of globalism, or any number of other things.
I applaud that The Argus does not want to become “a platform for white nationalist apologism, let alone white nationalism” and I take no issue with the quote from Bernie Sanders that was referenced, but what in the world do you mean when you say that The Argus “will start by prioritizing and amplifying historically marginalized voices”? I fear that it means solely voices of minorities who agree with you, and this fear grows when you state, “We reject any false equivalency between the underrepresentation of conservative voices in this paper and those of historically marginalized people.”
What about historically marginalized people who ARE conservative voices? I challenge The Argus, Michael Roth, or anyone on the Wesleyan campus who is able to invite a conservative speaker from a historically marginalized people to speak on campus. Hopefully he or she will not be rudely interrupted and the Q&A session will be a platform for engaging dialogue. If you would like ideas on who this speaker should be, I’d put Ben Shapiro on the top of that list. Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew, and I can’t think of a people more historically marginalized than Jews. Shapiro is also extremely critical of Donald Trump and did not vote for him. If you’d like to invite someone from a group even more marginalized than that, although he is not a practicing Jew, Milo Yiannopoulos fits that bill, being a homosexual person of Jewish descent, though I personally disagree with a number of his alt-right views.
Other options include African Americans like David Clarke, Allen West, or Ben Carson, or an immigrant from India who was incarcerated (essentially as a political prisoner) for a non-violent crime and stripped of his voting rights, Dinesh D’Souza. I hope that The Argus truly supports “the creation of an avenue for serious and earnest criticism from conservative voices” that it claims to, and I hope that Michael Roth and the rest of the Wesleyan community support it as well.
The Argus is in a position of power in that it can choose to maintain its integrity, consistency, and long-held views on censorship (not publishing hate speech, defamation, or personal attacks), or change by refusing to publish things based on the political views therein, such as anything that “normalizes Donald Trump himself.” A standard to “contest ideas, not people” does not make sense if it is not also applied to the President-elect.
When I was at Wesleyan, I learned about views that were different than mine, and I engaged in conversations and debates. Sometimes my views were changed, and sometimes I helped to change the views of others, but I learned how to listen to the other side, how to find common ground, how to stand up for what I believe in, and how to debate against what I oppose. I listened, without interrupting, to prominent liberal speakers brought to campus, such as Peter Singer, who is cool with murdering babies and old people in certain situations. Being largely Libertarian, I’ve had plenty of spirited but respectful debates with friends, many of them Wesleyan alumni, over the last few months. Many made great points, but others ended discussions by falsely accusing me of racism, telling me to fuck off several times, telling me that I shouldn’t have a say on abortion since I’m a man, or telling me that I don’t have the authority to speak about Black issues in America because I am white (at which point an African American friend of mine entered the discussion and agreed with me, but the other white person I was debating still disagreed). For the good of your education, to improve your ability to understand and debate the other side, and for the sake of hearing viewpoints from outside of the Wesleyan bubble, I challenge Wesleyan to bring in a prominent conservative voice to speak on campus, especially one from a historically marginalized group.
Leading up to this year’s Presidential election, I doubt any prominent speakers were brought to campus this semester who spoke about how the Clinton Foundation takes money from countries that murder homosexuals and have no women’s rights whatsoever, how Hillary is a war-hawk beholden to many entities, or how she counted a former KKK leader (Robert Byrd) among her mentors. I believe that leftists who refuse to engage opposing views helped contribute to Donald Trump’s victory.