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Letter to the Editor: Conservatism with civility

Stick to policy when discussing politics

Letter to the editor graphic

"Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.  

College isn’t meant to be an echo chamber of the vocal minority. 

The entire university system was founded, in the Enlightenment tradition, to be a place of civil discourse and a free marketplace of ideas. 

In fact, former President Barack Obama has been very critical of the tendency of some of our more liberal friends to shut out people and ideas they disagree with. 

While speaking about protests that took place at the University of Missouri, Obama said, "I don't want you to think that a display of your strength is simply shutting other people up, and that part of your ability to bring about change is going to be by engagement and understanding the viewpoints and the arguments of the other side.”

He went on to make his view clearer in an interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

“You don't have to be fearful of somebody spouting bad ideas. Just out-argue them. Beat them. Make the case as to why they're wrong," Obama said.

We must always be willing to engage in productive dialogue with those we disagree with — that’s how lasting change is formed. Here at ASU, we’re fortunate. 

Rated as one of the best colleges for free speech in the nation by a 2011 Huffington Post article, we enjoy a diversity of opinions and a wide array of student organizations willing to compromise and have civil dialogue. But we cannot shut down in the face of adversity. We must embrace it. 

Former Senator John McCain, a giant of Arizona and an American hero, was a fierce defender of the civility that we must be willing to defend. 

On the 2008 campaign trail, when confronted by a supporter who attempted to smear then-Senator Obama and call him racially insensitive names, McCain stopped her mid-comment and said, “He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.” 

Isn’t that what all politics should be about? We have our differences, we have our disagreements, but we must be willing to sit down at the end of the day to watch a football game with those we disagree with in the public arena. 

So you’re a conservative in college. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard, but temper your confidence with humility. 

Don’t sink to racism or sexism — stick to policy. Disagree but never be disagreeable. 

We can and only will rebuild civil discourse if we, the next generation, have the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of everyone. To fight for civility. It’s okay to be a conservative, but never forget that we’re all in this together. 

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The  State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Joseph Pitts, vice president of ASU College Republicans.

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