The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Listening to an array of voices expands the mind

Former vice president Mike Pence. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
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I read the March 31 editorial “Mr. Pence should be heard” with sadness. What has happened to today’s college students that they do not want to hear another point of view? As a political science major, I regularly read the New Republic (a liberal magazine) and National Review (a conservative magazine). I listened to guest speakers with a huge spectrum of ideas, from Gus Hall, head of the American Communist Party, to George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, and many others in between. The audience let the speakers speak, without catcalls or anyone trying to drown out what the speaker was saying. I did not always applaud when the lecture was completed.

It clearly helped my critical thinking. And it sometimes changed my opinions: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. This is how we grow and maintain a healthy dialogue with others. Today’s college students are missing a vital part of their education.

Robert Finkelstein, Reston

Way back in the 1960s, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, gave a speech at Cabell Hall. Notwithstanding his political views and his virulent antisemitism, he was allowed to express his views.

I am dismayed that some current students at my beloved university would try to block former vice president Mike Pence from speaking. I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think of such narrow-minded behavior from these students who walk the grounds of the university that he founded in 1819? I am no fan of Mr. Pence and I detested everything Rockwell represented. Having said that, let Mr. Pence speak.

Victor Podell, Fairfax