For one university professor, the recent protest of Mike Huckabee at John Brown University in Arkansas shows that college students will protest anybody who steps foot to speak on their campus.
Hunter Baker, an associate professor at Union University, found himself a bit baffled by the opposition to the folksy Republican politician, as he wrote in The Federalist:
But the question that nags at me is this: Is Mike Huckabee really protest-worthy? I want to be clear that I am not arguing to shut down protests or inhibit disagreement, but I do want to challenge the students and those who may have encouraged them. Does Huckabee really live up to the ugly billing he received from protesters?
Baker writes that in justifying their protest, “students associated their state’s former governor and two-time presidential candidate with racism, sexual violence against women, police brutality, and various other unacceptable positions.”
The professor argues that explanation doesn’t hold merit:
You will notice that the examples here are all instances of left-wing political sensibilities being used to make someone (in this case Huckabee) radioactive (a racist!) when in fact they simply disagree with proposed solutions for addressing a particular issue.
That strategy is one that conservatives are also guilty of committing, Baker writes. However, he notes students can take a different course.
Baker uses the example of a speech at his university given by Paul Begala, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton. Given Begala’s pro-choice views, Baker writes he and his students at the Christian college could have staged a protest:
But we didn’t. Instead, Begala gave his talk in a winsome fashion, and it was well-received. Many in the audience surely disagreed with a variety of Begala’s positions, but the event was a positive part of university life. In large part, it succeeded because of the civility of the people involved: administration, professors, Begala, and students.
Baker writes he doesn’t want to be seen as against protests, but argues it might be time to re-examine who deserves one:
Protest should be a live option. But it should also be one that is probably used with more provocation than Mike Huckabee’s Twitter feed, lest it become smothering in frequency and trivial in nature.