The silence is telling
Last week students at Georgetown University targeted Republican senator Mitch McConnell and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for protests, mobbing the married couple on the school’s campus as they left a function there. The altercation came several days after a Democratic representative, Maxine Waters, issued a call to publicly harass members of the Trump administration whenever they come out in public. As Waters asked for it, she got it: Chao and McConnell were yelled at and harassed, with Chao briefly engaging the protesters before she and her husband drove off.
The protesters were, by all appearances, well within their rights to protest the two Republicans. And yet it is nonetheless an unsettling sight to see a mob of students partaking in a bizarre and aggressive public attack plan at the behest of a liberal politician. There is something unhinged and unnerving about it. Had a Republican senator called for students to harangue members of the Obama administration, and had a group of students subsequently descended upon a couple of Democratic officials a few days later, you can be virtually certain it would be wall-to-wall news for at least a few days.
In this light, you would think Georgetown might say something about the conduct of its students: A full acknowledgement of the protesters’ free speech rights, say, followed by a request that activists maybe don’t behave like a roving mob of angry weirdos. It is well within the rights of American citizens to behave like boorish, uncivil louts; but it is also inadvisable. One would imagine that a prestigious university would want to try and make the distinction.
But Georgetown has been totally silent on the matter. Nobody over there is talking. It is presumable that college officials there are perhaps mildly embarrassed at the conduct of their students; it is certainly something of an embarrassing spectacle. Yet the absence of any kind of response to this behavior is rather incredible. Again, were the political parties reversed, and had conservative students rushed and screamed at liberal politicians, it is essentially guaranteed that the university would mount a full-scale public relations cleanup operation. But these were Republican politicians! So it’s no big deal apparently.
Our politics are getting worse, more combative, less pleasant, more acrimonious and less subject to reason and civil debate. If Georgetown students want to contribute to that growing cesspool, that is there prerogative. It is disappointing that Georgetown itself is refusing to even try to maintain a semblance of reasoned discourse. Such are the times we live in.
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