LTE: The Illiberality of Protest

Ryan Abbott

In regard to Miss Chang’s response on October 21st, 2019: 

Miss Chang attempts to justify her intellectual intolerance with false and misleading claims on Mr. Sessions’ credibility. She notes that one news outlet ranked Mr. Sessions as a heavy conservative out of 55 senators 12 years ago alluding that it makes Mr. Sessions as a conservative extremist. 

It does not: Mr. Sessions’ core beliefs are held by a majority of every type of conservative, according to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center. It would be quite fair to say his beliefs are that of the average conservative. This is troubling, since Miss Chang writes that “even if Sessions does hold the views of the average conservative… students should not simply accept this as the reality of conservative thought.” 

Translation: reject conservatism whether Mr. Sessions is radical or not. Or: “(protest) all conservatism,” which is the conflicting title of her response. In another contradiction, Miss Chang states that there are 1) both many alternative options for conservative speakers (naming none) and 2) whether “‘most conservatives are not hateful or intolerant at all’ cannot be confirmed or denied.” 

Accordingly, whether most Leftists are hateful or intolerant cannot be confirmed or denied either.

Mr. Sessions is your fellow American. Does he not deserve any meaningful interaction at all? 

How can any college student so vehemently resist an opportunity to have his/her core beliefs challenged? A baseless refusal to grant Mr. Sessions intellectual credibility ignorantly dismisses the views of millions of fellow Americans. “Conservatives exist who have not actively oppressed others.” Living with this sizeable subpopulation of the US will be less divisive if you do not assume their epistemology is based in hatred.

Finally, Miss Chang nonsensically states that a letter urging her to engage with Mr. Sessions instead of protesting his appearance is somehow an “attempt to subdue (her) First Amendment right to assemble.” It isn’t, but confronted with the reality of Mr. Sessions’ views, Miss Chang does exactly as I predicted: declares a crisis, refuses to interact meaningfully, and falsely associates blind hatred with Mr. Sessions’ beliefs. Protesting Mr. Sessions confronts nothing but an imaginary and quite vapid avatar of intolerance. If anyone wishes to truly confront him, that involves speaking directly with him. I implore Miss Chang again to consider attending Mr. Sessions speech. If you aren’t challenging his beliefs, you aren’t challenging your own – you accomplish nothing but the affirmation of your own bigotry.

— Ryan Abbott, McCormick Junior 

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