Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dissent in America

Recently, I wrote a letter to the editor for the Wisconsin State Journal regarding another reader's complaint. They wrote that it was hypocritical for liberals to criticize conservatives for dissenting with the president -- after all, it was once considered “patriotic” by those on the left to disagree with him. But suddenly, according to this reader, it was no longer patriotic to show dissent. Here is my response:

Dissent fine, but be prepared to defend it

I've heard a lot of complaints from conservatives about liberals only welcoming dissent when it's a Republican president running things. From conservative media to recent readers' comments, you'd think that liberals have taken a complete about-face on the whole subject of dissent being patriotic since President Barack Obama came into office.

That is hardly the case. Obama's reaching out to conservative lawmakers for their opinions and concerns shows quite the opposite. In criticizing conservative dissent, liberals are defending their views, not suppressing their opponents' disagreements like conservatives within the previous president's fan base did.

There is nothing wrong with stating an opinion. Conservatives should not only feel welcomed to do so, but also encouraged. At the same time, as their dissent is welcomed, so, too, must they expect a defense from liberals against that dissent, so long as those challenges come in the form of meaningful debate. That's how the "marketplace of ideas" is supposed to work.

If you want to present ideas or dissent, be prepared to defend them; if you can't use logic to do so, be prepared to be dismissed.

No comments:

Post a Comment