Column: An exchange of ideas

Ah, the GW undergraduate. Such hope, such vigor, such passionate devotion to political change. “Bush sucks,” we cry, with all the intensity of a mewling child. I write this admittedly harsh critique of my peers not out of spite, but out of genuine distress for the state of political discourse at this University.

Debate is meant to be an exchange of ideas guided by reason for the purpose of challenging and refining one’s opinions. Sadly, the arguments that often pass for debate at GW are little more than petulant, self-deluding demagogy.

This is not to suggest that Bush supporters are without fault in this area – we’ve all met our share of angry young Republicans. Yet examining the issue critically, few could deny that most of the sound and fury is coming from anti-Bush students.

The sheer lack of respect is perhaps most disconcerting. We’ve reached the point where shouting down one’s peers a la “Crossfire” is accepted as commonplace and warranted. In truth, it is an immature way of patting oneself on the back by ignoring the burden of objective analysis. This is childish behavior and needs to be labeled as such.

These bullying tactics discourage critical thinking by newcomers to political discussion, and encourage bright people to be intellectually lazy. Truly, the glib “I Hate Bush” credo has become a method by which the intelligent avoid the effort of analysis and the uninformed become instant intellectuals.

The popular arguments of this cadre commonly lack historical context and refuse to accept logic as its critical standard. The rejection of logic signals an embrace of intolerance. I think we have all seen this in students who lash out at the very whisper of an opposing point of view.

It begs the question: why are so many smart people so afraid of actually using their brains? Taking the easy way out can be very seductive, as is the appeal of belonging to the majority. Purveyors of politically myopic bunk understand this, so they appeal to our “joiner” instinct, and try to provoke strong emotions in their audience. Fatuous polemicists like Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly successfully market distortion under the guise of dissent using these tactics, and their popularity among college kids is well noted.

By accepting the word of these modern-day Red-baiters as scripture, students opposed to Bush cheat their minds and their movement. Emotion is the easiest way to avoid an honest discussion, and when this prevails the center of one’s argument cannot and will not hold.

It is one thing to strongly disagree with George W. Bush’s policies, but it is quite another to hate the man. More often than not, it seems to disguise an inherent insecurity about one’s factual premises.

Forgive the blanket psychoanalysis, but perhaps such individuals are projecting their post-adolescent angst and confusion onto the President. Could this be a case of displaced anger at authority figures, or maybe, as Ben Stein has suggested, at terrorists?

We would all do well to grow up a little. Political discussion should be the domain of rational, thinking adults, not id-driven children. And it should not be the domain of figures that seek to murder the capacity for reason with vitriolic assessments of important issues.

Yeats wrote, “The best lack all conviction, and the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” Let’s put our money where our mouth is, and rebel – rebel against a climate where this has become our political standard.

-The writer is a sophomore majoring in English.

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