A recent editorial published by The Spectrum seemed to have sparked some rather interesting conversations. The recent Taboo special edition contained an interview between one of The Spectrum’s editors and a somewhat notorious Fargo National Socialist, Pete Tefft.
Despite this interview being blatantly objective and harmless in its questions and content, many people who I’ve talked to in person and over social media have questioned if discussing and questioning an ideology as risqué as National Socialism at North Dakota State should be acceptable.
The misguided response to this interview and the rise of the alt-right in general, has disgusted me.
Universities should be one of the most important areas in society for ideas to be learned about and debated. If not at a center of learning and growth, where else? A university needs to be a place where young people can be confronted with the multitude of ideologies and belief systems that the world has to offer, either to learn from them or, at the very least, learn about them. Being exposed to ideologies that one does not agree with, especially radical ones, will help that person learn differing viewpoints and how to argue about and against them if necessary.
How is a capitalist supposed to argue against ideologies such as Marxism or socialism if they’re never exposed to those ideologies’ points? How are they supposed to defend their preferred system of free markets if they never have to persuade others to their side?
The most important factor to consider is that being exposed to a variety of philosophies and having to consider and debate each belief systems’ points can help maturing people at a university weed out the inaccurate ones. Everyone should be able to sufficiently argue why one political philosophy is either correct or wrong. If free trade is wrong, sufficiently explain to me why it’s wrong. If you believe that healthcare should be universal, thoroughly tell me why it’s the right system to implement. Do not resort to ad hominem insults or attempt to have people you don’t agree with censored.
I’ve never met Mr. Tefft, but he describes himself as a National Socialist, an ideology I do not condone or agree with.
Attempting to shame and bully him and others who hold rather radical political beliefs will only make your side weaker. As much as you may despise it, National Socialists do exist. Even more radical people who identify as White Supremacists exist. As much as I hate it, Marxists also exist.
The method of addressing these far-out views should not be plugging your ears and try to muzzle them, either through administrative action or social pressure. This will only embolden their ideologies. It should be for you to hear the sides of the argument, learn about them and appropriately discuss them.
If men like Mr. Tefft are wrong, prove them wrong through rational arguments and facts. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for ideas, so expose the erroneous ideas of the world in the universities and other areas of learning, so that everyone can discuss and build on them. Censorship and narrow-mindedness can only lead a society down the path of ignorance and weakness.
If you think I’m wrong, let’s do what the great thinkers of the past have taught us and have a discussion about it.