Can I get some climate change?

After seven years at UNC, one thing has worn on me about this campus: the political climate. UNC has sadly become a stagnant cesspool for political thought. I came here considering myself liberal, but now consider myself a moderate Democrat, truly viewing it as the lesser of two evils. The liberal voice here became so shrieking and annoying, I backed up to the middle. Really, I’m extremely curious as to whether this has happened to others, especially in this day and age when people at least seem to think this is a harshly partisan era.

Are we that partisan? According to exit interviews by MSNBC with nine outgoing U.S. Senate members of both parties, we aren’t. Go online and read the transcripts; they’re interesting. While I don’t think partisanship has become historically nasty on a national scale, I think it has become somewhat so on our own campus.

We look down on conservatives in the sort of way homosexuals and minorities get harassed in conservative parts of the country. UNC has become a liberal death camp of tolerance. For true diversity, groups should be seeking the side opposite their own.

For example, Karl Rove, the alleged hand to Dubya’s puppet, will be here Monday. Despite regarding him as self-interested and malicious, I would rather hear his train of thought than of someone who shares my views. I don’t know how people reach the conclusions they do which lead them to support people like George W. Bush, but Rove helped orchestrate it and can probably show me how.

The best speakers for this campus are the John Ashcroft and Tom Tancredo types. They challenge and help refine our views. Yet, with conservative speakers, students unleash an embarrassing, deafening riot that makes Mogadishu look like Asheville. With liberal speakers, after they’ve rehashed the beliefs of the audience, there’s enough sickening ass-kissing to deem it inappropriate for minors. What do you gain?

The University and student groups spend thousands of dollars on speakers — using your tuition and fees — and we should get more out of them. Students need to do their part during the post-talk question-and-answer sessions.
After I saw James Hansen — an original, outspoken whistle-blower on climate change — speak last spring, the discussion session turned into something you might expect if girls got to interview Justin Bieber after a concert, including the blitz to the microphone that Butch Davis must be reviewing for potential walk-ons (still too soon?). “Dr. Hansen, aren’t coal and carnivores SO bad? Yeah, I know! Want to make out?”

You don’t have to disagree with someone’s policies. Ask how to make progress, where could or should compromises be made. Organize a diverse panel of speakers or even a classic, structured Lincoln-Douglas debate. Keith Olbermann vs. Glenn Beck, together on stage — far greater than the sum of the parts were they to come speak separately.

Groups and organizers of speakers, please just give us something new. Otherwise, as you bark your views on campus and seek a bigger soapbox and louder bullhorn, preaching the same message over and over again (technically torture, used by the military) others will cover their ears more, move away, and you’ll relegate yourselves to the integrity of the Pit preachers.

Sam Perkins is the Graduate Student Columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a graduate student studying Marine Sciences from Charlotte. Email him at ssperkin@email.unc.edu.

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