EDITORIAL: Extremes need to let moderates speak
Facilitated conversation will allow truth to be uncovered
Yesterday was election day, and the two frontrunners were Phil Murphy, a stark Democrat, and Kim Guadagno, a stark Republican. As usual, the moderate and third-party candidates in the running were significantly overshadowed by the Democratic and Republican political base. This is heavily representative of the current political climate on Rutgers' campus, as it is on the campuses of the majority of public universities. When it comes to politics at Rutgers, during the past few semesters the voices of two starkly contrasting groups of students have garnered most of the attention — extreme right-wingers and white supremacists on one side, and deep left-wing activists on the other. Some of the white supremacists, whose views often align with those of the alt-right, have been voicing their opinions by means of flyers and guest speakers. Some of the far-left wingers, or progressive liberals, have been voicing their opinions through protests. As a result, the political conversations on campus are not conversations anymore, they are battles — and they are dividing students.
The fact of the matter is that these two loud political schools of thought – the extremes – do not represent the views of the majority of the student body. In fact, most students, at least the ones who follow politics, have multiple overlapping views. But the two loudest groups have created an environment where those with overlapping views choose to simply not talk about their conflicting opinions so as not to face social backlash as a result of voicing them. It is not uncommon for people who even openly admit to being willing to see both sides to experience social approbation. Essentially, students have two choices — either pick a side or do not talk at all.
If as a society our goal is to find the truth as to what is the best form of governance, or what rules work best for us, the facilitation of conversation between not both groups, but all groups, is absolutely necessary. The chilling effect of the battles of the extremes effectively kills our chances at discovering the best ideas. Everyone argues as if they have the truth when in reality, argument is a tool to uncover it. As the father of logic, Aristotle was very interested in truth and how to come by it. One of Aristotle’s main methods of inquiry, dialectics, utilizes the discussion of contrasting and differing opinions to get at the truth. And truth, one can assume, is what is best for society. Listening to the views of people with whom you viciously disagree — or at least think you do before you hear them talk — can not only help validate your own opinion but can open your eyes to new ideas and lead us closer to the truth, which none of us have the slightest grip on.
What does not help the situation is the University picking a side. While it is perfectly acceptable for the administration to come out against hate speech and white supremacy, in some cases they seem to give an official voice to the most outspoken people, which are those with far-left views. Maybe it would be best for University officials to hold off on statements and remain neutral on behalf of the school in most political situations and let students congregate, protest and discuss on their own. Additionally, we need to facilitate conversation between not only the two extremes but between the two extremes and everyone else. At the end of the day, we are all students. We do not have time to hate each other, let alone hate each other without even knowing the other side’s reasoning first — it is counterproductive. Why focus solely on vanilla and chocolate when there is a plethora of ice cream flavors out there waiting to be discovered? It does not make sense.