Last week, UNC’s Institute of Politics announced its two visiting fellows for the 2019 spring semester: former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre.
As fellows, both McCrory and McIntyre will lead weekly 75-minute seminars surveying contemporary politics, civic duty and leadership. These seminars are open to all UNC students and no enrollment is necessary. Students will not earn academic credit for attending.
These seminars offer a unique opportunity for UNC’s student body to engage in civil political discourse. Our current political climate frequently seems consumed by untethered emotion, moral defensiveness and fear of partisan judgment. Now, UNC has the chance to rectify the toxic culture that has permeated American society through open and fruitful conversation.
We should never forget the value of hearing and fairly evaluating the arguments of those with whom we disagree, for the First Amendment serves as the fountain from which every other right flows. To drown out dissenting opinions is to impair the health of a functioning democracy. By welcoming diverse opinions and engaging civilly with them, we help reset the abandoned standards for political discourse, as well as checking the merit of our own beliefs by having them challenged.
This is not to say we support the erasure of history. Both McCrory and McIntyre should prepare to be held accountable for their actions in office. We encourage UNC students to attend these seminars with an open mind and with learning as their priority, not immediate condemnation.