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viewpoint

A missed conversation

| Monday, April 11, 2016

When I heard that Wendy Davis was coming to speak on campus, my first instinct was to protest against her. But when I thought about what people have been saying about dialogue, I decided not to. Instead, I went, submitted a question, and listened.

And I was so, so disappointed.

Davis, a former senator, started by talking about the “power of placing ourselves into each other’s shoes.” But then she went on to describe what pro-life politicians do as “the ugliest thing that can happen in the political arena, and … so shameful.” She told us of how she defeated a bill because her supporters “literally screamed with all their might,” so that “the Secretary of the Senate was unable to take the vote due to their noise.”

The students around me, the very students I wanted to engage in a dialogue, clapped and cheered. They applauded cruel and alienating words about their opponents. They applauded the forcible disruption of the democratic process and the silencing of others.

Afterwards, as people were leaving, I and some of my friends stood by the door and handed out pro-life feminist fliers, hoping to spark a conversation. Only two people stopped to talk, and only one of them was a student. Most people said nothing, but many said, “Oh, we don’t want that. That’s the wrong kind of propaganda. We don’t want that. No.” Senator Davis herself refused to make eye contact with me.

So yes, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that Senator Davis chose to use her platform to encourage the people in that auditorium, many of whom I consider my friends, to drown out others’ voices, and to reject conversation and even the proper functioning of democracy. I’m disappointed that what could have been an opportunity to build bridges became another occasion to build walls.

One of my friends — my freshman retreat roommate, in fact — complained about us on social media later, saying that our fliers were “#wastedpaper.” For all of our sakes, I hope not.

Monica Gorman
senior
April 5

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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