My Turn: A show of courage from New England College
The front-page headline (above the fold) of the Sunday Monitor provided an interesting commentary on how we choose to interpret events in the current partisan atmosphere.
“Grads protest Ayotte,” it read. This, of course, is nothing new. Everyone seems to be protesting Sen. Kelly Ayotte lately. As I read the article, however, it mentioned that Ayotte was being given an honorary degree by New England College, and her remarks were not political.
It seemed like the writer of the piece went out of her way to focus on a mild protest to Ayotte’s appearance. Comments from students and others were reported that emphasized that NEC was a “liberal place” and Ayotte had no business being invited there. Others were urged by activist friends to join the protest as a show of support. Some fellow speakers also did not like her being invited. I guess all of that makes good press and continues the negative coverage of Ayotte.
Perhaps instead of emphasizing the negative, however, you might have taken that opportunity to focus on the courage New England College displayed in actually trying to provide students with some diversity in their education. It is no easy thing to invite a conservative speaker onto most college campuses. Diversity does not extend to conservative thought in many cases, and students and professors often react by putting their hands over their ears and yelling over and over, “I can’t hear you. . . . I can’t hear you.”
As someone who was a young Democrat at Dartmouth, I can understand this approach. We did the same thing when Barry Goldwater came on campus. We treated him like a crazy person who wanted to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust. We didn’t give him much of a chance to speak and we didn’t learn much about who he really was.
Perhaps the Monitor might take a breath next time and look at the glass half full. New England College should be commended for its efforts to provide students with a variety of speakers and a mix of different philosophies. We don’t have to agree with them all, but it is nice to see a college that is trying to do its duty as a liberal institution in the true sense of the word. This is a rare thing in these times.
(Glenn K. Currie lives in Concord.)