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A dialogue on respect

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This letter responds to Raymond Michuda’s April 14 column “A discourse on dishonesty.”

There’s a reason why Americans hate politicians. Politics can be nasty, filled with mud-slinging and generally vicious all-around. Too often, debates on substantial issues devolve into name-calling and back-biting. But political debate does not have to be like that. It can be based on civility, understanding and above all, respect. Call me optimistic, but I believe that political debate can be conducted respectfully, especially in an institution dedicated to thoughtful and reasoned argument such as this University. That is why Michuda’s argument was so upsetting. It calls for lack of respect at a time when more is needed. Not only that, Michuda accuses the President of lies while himself engaging in certain … assertions of dubious truth. I would like to address four particularly mistaken statements.

He writes that Obama “wants to take away the guns of law-abiding American citizens.” The President has never asserted such a statement, nor has he ever demonstrated support for repealing the Second Amendment. Putting restrictions on gun ownership to prevent horrible massacres is far different from taking them away wholesale.

He writes that, due to being the first Black president, people view him as beyond reproach. Seeing as the most recent Gallup poll puts Obama’s approval rating at 43 percent, I think it is difficult to assert that he is so universally well-loved. Obama has attracted critics among all parties, regions and ethnicities.

He recognizes the impending offensive comment when he pleads not to be taken out of context for using Hitler in his argument against Obama. While I understand he was trying to say that political leaders should not be given our trust automatically, he did so in a way that unnecessarily invoked a tyrannical dictator in a piece that was otherwise directed entirely at Obama.

Perhaps most disappointingly, he calls for Americans to disrespect the President by labeling him a liar: “We should do so loudly, and without fear, because it is precisely this attitude that will ensure our country remains the gleaming beacon of freedom that our founders envisioned.” Would George Washington or James Madison really have echoed that sentiment? I think not. What American political debate needs is more cordiality, willingness to compromise and mutual understanding. More discussions; fewer diatribes. More dialogues; fewer discourses.
Tom Roman


St. Edward’s Hall

April  14

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