Feeding the fire
I'm sure by now that most everyone reading this post has heard about the recent protest at UNC that turned violent and ended in a blur of pepper spray and tasers flying in the air. If you haven't, read here. Basically, a student group called Youth for Western Civilization invited former Republican U.S. Representative from Colorado Tom Tancredo to speak out against illegal immigration. When he got there to speak, hundreds of protesters were yelling at him, waving sings in front of him, calling him a "racist" and "white supremecist" and everything else you can imagine. DPS officers had to use pepper spray and shoot some tasers in the air to hold the protesters back. Tancredo couldn't even speak because someone broke a window in the room and he didn't feel safe.
I don't know much about the Youth of Western Civilization group, but I have done some research on Tancredo and I can't say that I'm his biggest fan. But all the protestors suceeded in doing Tuesday is make our university look like a bunch of assholes and make a crazy conservative guy look like a victim. Youth for Western Civilization gets all kinds of free publicity because the "crazy liberals" at UNC broke up their event.
I respect the right to protest just as much as I respect his right to speak, but there are right ways and wrong ways to protest. The right way to protest is to hold a seperate event at the exact same time that stresses the opposite opinion, like the Dance Party for Diversity that happened in the Pit at the same time. Another way to challenge an unpopular speaker is to listen to what he/she has to say and then ask him challenging questions. Not only does it make us look more intelligent and respectful, but it could catch him off guard and make him look like an idiot.
Right now, we look like a bunch of hypocrites. We supposedly open minded liberals shut down free speech of a conservative person. Way to give conservatives justification for what they already think of this campus.
I'm glad that the Young Democrats and Chancellor Holden Thorpe have spoken out against this protest, but that only does so much. People are going to remember this. All we can do now is make sure it never happens again. Protest intelligently.
Photo credit: Daily Tar Heel, Ariana van den Akker