I was offended by the way the Weekly covered the Condoleezza Rice event. Instead of focusing on Rice’s wisdom, views and lessons, The Occidental Weekly opted to focus on the nameless 20 or so protesters that disrupted the event. By standing up and turning around, the protesters signaled that they would not listen to Rice.
We should attempt to hear many viewpoints, learn from many sources and try to understand one another in order to become the best human beings possible. By ignoring Rice, the protesters likely lost their only chance to hear her in person. Furthermore, the protesters blocked lines of sight to the speaker and disrupted many others’ learning experiences. These protesters took away seats from students and members of the community who genuinely wanted to learn from Rice.
I came to Oxy to become a better person. Part of that experience includes hearing speakers that do not agree with me. I would argue that a large part of how we mature — both as scholars and individuals — lies in hearing another’s side. Not just hearing but listening and trying to understand their viewpoints.
By ignoring Rice, the protesters lost a valuable opportunity to learn from the most powerful black woman in our nation’s history. She gave great anecdotes on how she dealt with prejudice both while living in a segregated Birmingham, Alabama, and in her professional career. By focusing on the actions of the administration that Secretary Rice played an integral part in, protesters lost the opportunity to learn from Condi. They exemplified Rice’s call for people to subscribe to a wide variety of news sources to combat the close-minded pitfalls of partisan thinking.
Who are we as a collective if we allow the same close-minded students to dictate the discussions we ought to freely have on campus? I did not see a single protester stay for the Q&A. Did any of them submit questions? It was, likely, the only chance they would have to hear her address their issues. A simple “Looking back, do you feel differently about enhanced interrogation techniques?” or a “What would you change in how we dealt with Iraq?” would not only satisfy their concerns but would elevate the discussion we all took part in. I hope that in the future The Occidental Weekly will highlight the productive conversations on campus, not groups seeking to disrupt or shut down others’ viewpoints.
-Sumner Schwartz ‘18