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Notre Dame College Democrats condemn GOP debater’s alleged ‘hateful,’ ‘dangerous’ rhetoric

Use of such language ‘normalizes it for extremists everywhere’

In the latest example of self-proclaimed free speech progressives showing they’re anything but, board members of the Notre Dame College Democrats used the student paper to rip a College Republican debater’s language as “hateful” and “dangerous.”

A week before Election Day, the Notre Dame College Republicans’ Shri Thakur took on the College Democrats’ Blake Ziegler on topics such as immigration, the economy and crime.

The Observer’s account of the debate is fairly thorough; both debaters offered up many of the same talking points we heard from politicians and talking heads throughout the 2022 campaign season.

Things got a bit heated on the issues of abortion, education and crime with Ziegler claiming that, as a Jew, he doesn’t want “have to listen to Christianity to tell [him] when life begins.”

Ziegler also accused Republicans of being “transphobic” and “homophobic” due to their efforts regarding age-appropriate school curricula. He claimed current high crime rates are a result of people being poorer (for which Democrats are not to blame, of course), not the (Democrat-promoted) defunding of police forces, sentence reductions and abolition of cash bail.

Among other things, Thakur countered with “We are going to defend our culture and put Americans first in the name of God, family and country and we are going to make America great again.”

Given that Notre Dame is a private Catholic institution, such a statement isn’t exactly out of the mainstream.

For the seven board members of the College Democrats, however, Thakur’s debate performance was “a display of racist, transphobic and antisemitic rhetoric” for which he “must be held accountable.”

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“[Thakur’s] election denial, promotion of QAnon conspiracies about Jan. 6, transphobic characterization of deeply personal experiences for trans children, comparison of Judaism’s position on abortion with Aztec child sacrifice, dogwhistles on race when discussing DEI and promotion of nationalism are not just factually inaccurate and problematic, [they are] unacceptable and harmful to our community at Notre Dame,” wrote Alexandra Conley, Riya Shah, Anna Guzmán, Benjamín Gracia, Katie Werner, Megan Keenan and Sydney Dittmar.

When students at the University of Notre Dame, a prestigious academic institution, are allowed to make offensive comments in an official, public capacity, they normalize it for extremists everywhere. We may not realize it in the moment, but for people watching this debate with hateful ideologies in their hearts, it is validating. We allow it to become an academically sound argument, when it’s pure lies and hate. Introducing such ideas under the guise of “academic debate” and “intellectual freedom” does not make them legitimate — it just gives them an undeserved place at this university. And, by giving them a place here, we use the power and prestige that comes with the words “University of Notre Dame” to tell the world that hate is acceptable.

Nevertheless, the septet claim they are not liberals who are “unable to listen to opposing opinions or being intolerant of different viewpoints.”

You can (as the seven board members implore readers to do) view the entire debate for yourself.

Thakur responded on Twitter to the board members’ Observer letter:

MORE: GOP wants to ‘dehumanize’ voters who threaten ‘white identity’: Notre Dame professor

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.