Brent Terry, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, was taped by a student saying the following while teaching a creative writing class:
“Racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people have so much power over the rest of us, and want things to go back not to 1955, but to 1855. There are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal. It’s absolutely possible that the Republicans will take over the Senate as well as the House, and we will live in a very, very, very different kind of country if that happens. I mean colleges will start closing up if they, if these people have their way.”
After the student anonymously made the recording public, Professor Terry then offered up this general apology:
“During my creative writing class yesterday, I allowed my own political opinions to color the discussion. I regret the language I used, and I apologize to any students in the room who were offended.”
I won’t go so far as to say Professor Terry’s classroom comments were inappropriate; I’ve taken many classes where the discussion frequently veered away from the subject matter being taught. Without knowing the impetus for his short diatribe, I’ll give him the benefit of doubt that it was just one of those sidetracks we all take from time to time. I also won’t go so far as to say his comments were uncalled for. Let’s face it, neither you nor I were there to hear what led to his comments. Even though I disagree with what he said, one thing I don’t want to do is protest a few words that were possibly taken out of context. Whether the student recorded or made public the entire discussion isn’t known; we only have a short minute-long quote from Professor Terry.
What I will take exception to is his view of conservatives. He called us racist (we’re not), and money-grubbing (OK, maybe just a little; who isn’t?) He also said we have power, in his words, “over the rest of us.” Really? I’m shocked to learn this, because whether you call it liberalism, progressivism, or whatever, Professor Terry and those who share his views have a much more powerful influence on the direction of this country and its policies than we conservatives do. After all, look who’s in the colleges and universities teaching our young men and women liberal group-think. And if that seems like a low blow, so be it – when I have to, I’ll resort to Orwellian terminology to get my point across. But I’m really not trying to be mean, though, just… truthful, which is something I don’t feel Professor Terry has been with either his classroom statements or his apology.
But let’s go on to the rest of his comments. According to his view of us, we would deny ethnic minorities the right to vote, and we would also deny old people and young people the same. Well then, who’s left to vote? A narrow age group between the ages of, say, 35 and 50? Oh, and let’s not forget – it would only be whites. And then there is his fear that the Senate will have a Republican majority after the next election. Well, it’s a possibility, but I’m not holding my breath. Not after the 2012 general election, when I knew without doubt the American public had presumably seen Barack Obama for who he really is. Instead, I was blindsided with election results I truly didn’t expect, so I wound up stunned and amazed. I’m not taking my assumptions about elections for granted again, and neither should Professor Terry.
But even if the Republicans actually do take over the Senate, what does he fear? That colleges and universities will start closing their doors because conservative thought is poisonous to society, to academia, and, I suppose, to life in general? That’s uninformed nonsense taken to the extreme, because if there’s any one group of people in America who is all for institutions of higher learning, for the free exchange of ideas and beliefs, and for honest discussion and debate of them, it’s conservatives.
Conservatives, you see, don’t fear liberals, and we don’t shrink away from being willing to talk to them and engage in a discussion of politics or religion with them. We don’t mind hearing what they have to say. It doesn’t threaten us, and although we will nine times out of ten disagree vehemently with them, we won’t resort to losing our tempers, shouting, talking over them, or worst of all, attacking them personally or name-calling. No, it’s liberals who resort to those tactics when we try to engage them in a conversation about ideas and issues, so Professor Terry needn’t worry that institutes of higher learning will be closed down by Republicans. Nor will the liberal bias probably change at universities if the Republicans regain a majority in the Senate. We, after all, aren’t the ones who are afraid of free speech. Is Professor Terry able to honestly say the same about himself and his fellow associates at Eastern Connecticut State University? Or for that matter, the majority of universities and colleges? I don’t think so.
I’ve heard it said many times before that conservatives always give valid reasons for their political beliefs – reasons that are well thought out and logical. Beliefs that took some thinking and reasoning to formulate. Liberals, on the other hand, look at life in terms of their feelings. Whether it’s social justice, environmentalism, abortion, criminal justice, national defense, or any of a myriad of topics, it’s all about how they feel about them. And therein lies the problem. When you have a discussion with another based on ideas and reasons, you may not succeed in changing their mind, nor they yours, but you’ll both learn something and walk away the better for it. But when you try to discuss a topic with someone who is emotionally invested in their own ideas, it’s never going to go well, and not only will they lose their temper, but they will quickly set about shutting down all dissenting opinion. That’s exactly why Professor Terry said what he said, and it’s why liberals in general are not good at responding to ideas contrary to their own. They can’t argue their ideas, because they aren’t equipped to do so, and will merely seek any means possible to close down all discussion.
At the very least, I’d like for liberal professors, and for that matter, all liberals to understand that squashing all thoughts or ideas contrary to your own isn’t productive. And especially in the case of professors, because you’re not teaching your students to think for themselves; to think critically, where they can weigh an argument on it’s merits. Indeed, where they can hear more points of view than the narrow range of liberal thought you hold so dear.
To not only Professor Brent Terry, but to all professors, high school teachers, and anyone else who’s in a position to influence young minds, think it over. If you consider yourself an authority and an intellectual – act like it and step up to the discussion. Don’t shy away from it.