Why Fred Barnes was a Good Speaker

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Chris Maurice

How to act when you come across a Republican:

Stop, drop, and roll.

Avoid making eye contact.

Slowly walk away.

Do not make any drastic movements.

Stay quiet: no loud noises.

Politically speaking, conservative is a word no one would use to describe me. Despite my ideological beliefs, I’m glad that on April 22nd Fred Barnes, political commentator and executive editor of The Weekly Standard, came to speak to the Latin community.

This year, more than ever, I have been aware of the agenda the school is pushing. The Latin mission statement states: “The Latin School of Chicago provides its students…a community that embraces diversity of people, cultures and ideas.” We focus on and excel at embracing a diverse student body. At times it seems the school forgets its mission to promote a diverse range of ideas, specifically, a range of political and ideological views.

Eric Andresen, who organized Friday’s assembly, said that it was one of the first times he has heard his moderate views supported or spoken about in a positive manor in his 11 years at Latin. When asked whether it would have been easier to bring in a speaker with liberal values, Eric responded by saying, “It would have seemed more status-quo. [Barnes] was the first conservative speaker in all that time—connect the dots.”

There are always two sides to an issue, but we spend so much of our time focused on only one of those sides: the liberal one. Those who disagree, or simply have different views become the enemy. It is impossible to understand what happened in World War Two without learning about both sides. Mr. Fript has dedicated a whole class to analyzing the factors that brought the Nazi Regime to power.

Latin has a responsibility to give its students a well-rounded education, which seems nearly impossible given the fact that we simply gloss over ideals nearly half of the United States’ population believes in. The world isn’t filled with passionate liberals. So how will students know how to react when they come across a not-so-rare republican? Stopping, dropping, and rolling won’t help. All I’m saying is we need different speakers. 

But there is no use in bringing in conservative speakers if they don’t get the respect they deserve. Though Fred Barnes and members of the Latin community differ on many issues, there is plenty to learn from a man who is well respected by journalists and politicians of both parties. So, why couldn’t members of the Latin community treat him with the same respect? What I was most offended by during last Friday’s assembly was nothing Barnes said, but instead learning that members of the community had complained. Just because you didn’t agree with something Barnes said doesn’t mean you have to whine to the administration. It will only hurt your education more. Yeah, he didn’t pronounce Venezuela correctly, nor did he speak highly of socialism; however, Barnes was the least controversial speaker we have had at Latin. There is no need to start chaos because he was republican.

I’m being a hypocrite, though. As I said, there are always two sides to an issue, and I guess some people just don’t know how to act around Republicans.

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