I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Drew’s editorial from the last issue lately, and the more I think about it, the more I think the premise of his argument is a viable, actionable plan. If you haven’t read it, the argument revolves around a plan that would involve students–including those protesting the Pacifica Forum–into the actual Forum as debaters.
The Pacifica Forum was started in 1994 as a way to debate two sides (or three) of an issue. As the years have gone on, speakers at the Pacifica Forum have started to push the envelope of topics discussed. Here, we should make an important distinction: The Pacifica Forum has no members per se, but an open call for its organizers. Indeed, the premise of a Forum is just that–an open discussion or debate. Instead, its protesters have been acting as if the Pacifica Forum is one, solid group with a single mindset.
Contrary to what many may think, the Pacifica Forum is not all Nazis. Instead, the organizers of the Forum have invited Nazis and debated back and forth with them about certain topics–the swastika, the Sieg Heil etc. The problem lately, however, is that the two sides of the debate haven’t been far apart enough in their arguments. Instead of a debater that is far to one side and another that is far to the other, the debaters at the Pacifica Forum have been far to one side with the other somewhere in the middle.
This is where our beloved protesters come in. Although protests were initially meant to be “silent” they have strayed far and away from that premise. Effectively, the anti-Pacifica people want their voices heard. What Drew proposed–and what I think is an exceedingly good idea–is that those protesters join the debate on the other side of the table, as speakers. Instead of holding signs and shouting, or waiting for your turn to speak at the microphone, why not sit on the other end of the table as a third party, a third side to the debate about Nazism or what have you?
I find it harder and harder to find any support within myself for the anti-Pacifica protesters. The Forum itself is not perpetuating Nazism–idiots like Jimmy Marr and Anelauskas are. Why not stand up, take charge, and take back the Forum for yourselves?
Amidst this conflict, somebody told me, “The proper reaction to bad speech is not less speech. The proper reaction is more speech.”
If only this campus could grasp that concept.