Should all opinions be given a platform?



Opinion Columnist Mohammed Rawwas responds to Opinion Columnist Kevin Wiggins' piece "What does it mean to be a conservative?"

MOHAMMED RAWWAS, Opinion Columnist

I should be writing about Bolivia right now.

I will start off by saying that I actually take this job seriously. A bit too seriously, I imagine. I have a nagging suspicion that nobody actually reads these articles, but I still find it necessary to advance the agenda of leftism to the greatest extent possible within the articles I write. I say I should be writing about Bolivia because that’s what I would like to write about, and because it is an extremely important current event that has far-reaching ramifications and ties back to a long and storied history of imperialism and coups in Latin America. Unfortunately, I find myself in a position where I am not writing such a piece precisely because something legitimately damaging has been put out into the world and I find myself in the position of having to correct the record, so to speak.

I have had to do this once before in reference to this same author. Late last semester, this same author wrote a piece about the Harvard admissions lawsuit, portraying it in a positive light, while failing to mention the fact that this lawsuit was brought forward by a white nationalist whose sole purpose in life is to destroy affirmative action and that his previous lawsuits have caused certain provisions of the 1964 Voting Rights Act to be rescinded, which was then used in North Carolina to pass racist voter ID laws that targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision” to bar them from voting, a federal court ruled. At the time, I tried to give this author the benefit of the doubt and assumed that he was an unwitting liberal who accidentally published white nationalist propaganda because he was simply unaware of the underlying facts. However, with this new article, any shred of charitability is gone.

On Nov. 14, 2019, the Northern Iowan published an article entitled “What does it mean to be ‘conservative?’” by one Kevin Wiggins. It features a glowing review of one Sir Roger Scruton and his works, even going so far as to portray him as the victim of a senseless PC mob. The article fails to mention, however, that this same Scruton wrote, “every now and then, however, we wake up to the fact that, although homosexuality has been normalized, it is not normal.” Scruton has also stated that “lesbianism is usually an attempt by a woman to find that committed love that she can’t get from men anymore.” Scruton has also contended that date rape is not a crime, stating that date rape amounts to saying “‘the whole thing went too quickly,’ you know, ‘I was not prepared’ and so consent is withdrawn as it were in retrospect.” He has also played into the anti-Semitic trope of George Soros by claiming that “many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros empire,” and dismisses Islamophobia as a “propaganda word.” Regardless of what one thinks of these quotes, or what should come of them, why didn’t the original author include them in their article, to let the reader decide for themselves how to perceive the situation of Scruton’s firing from an advisory role for the U.K. government? If Wiggins believes that we should have homophobic rape apologists advising our governments, why not have the spine to say so directly? Why lie by omission and hope the readership will not take the time to research the situation on their own time?

The other figure that is praised in this article is George Will, a conspiracy theorist who does not believe campus rape is a problem and that people who claim to be victims are simply lying in order to be conferred the privileges of being victims. Will is also known for his inability to look at two numbers and determine whether or not they are equal, as he falsely claimed that global sea ice levels in 2009 were equal to the same figure in 1979, even though 16.79 million square kilometers and 15.45 million square kilometers are indeed not the same number. Which is why it is so laughable when Wiggins claims that Will is an “environmentalist.” Even more laughable, however, is when Wiggins claims that Will is both an “environmentalist” and a “defender of capitalism,” two positions so thoroughly incompatible as to be absurd. Also incommensurate is the idea of “embracing change” while being a “conservative,” which definitionally does not work.

There is plenty more to pick apart in this article (when were conservatives ever united by “individual liberty?”) but I will end it here because a more important discussion must be had. The question must be asked: why is this person hired by the Northern Iowan? They have just written an article in which the two main figures of praise are both rape apologists. Why are they being afforded a platform to spew their damaging opinions? Contributing to rape culture is actively damaging to students on this very campus. Most of the conservative op-ed writers for the NI are completely and utterly inept, and I have even heard from a former executive editor for the NI that, even though they are well aware of the shoddy quality of their work, they were hired in order to maintain an appearance of neutrality or balance from the paper. In other words, they are the affirmative action hires. And considering how opposed to affirmative action conservatives are, I think they’ll understand why they need to be let go.