by Marcus Koontz
Yesterday as I sat down to peruse the Pioneer I turned to page 12, the politics page. I read the Bill Grant article. It was well written and informative. Then as I read on, first the Bob Biles story and then the piece on Goldwater, I noticed a disturbing pattern. I searched for a section title, fearing I was in the wrong section. It said “Politics,” not “Democratics,” which seemed misleading.
I had the impression that it was unprofessional to completely eschew any semblance of balance. I thought that it was the opinion section that was supposed to make opinions known. Maybe I was just wrong. Or maybe there is something interesting going on here.
I almost hate to be the one beating the drum of the “media is biased” line. I will be the first one to admit that there could be one or two legitimate reasons behind the choice of stories. After all, the stories do all have the common theme of being immediately connected to Whitman itself in one way or another. But why did the editor decide to put all of those stories together at once? Why was the politics page prefaced with the push “get involved in this year’s critical elections”? In law cases all it takes for judges to recuse themselves is the appearance of bias. This section not only has the appearance of bias but smells strongly of it.
The makeup of U.S. politics is split relatively evenly between Democrats and Republicans, with a few stragglers in there (like my party, Libertarians). Even if I were to grant that Whitman is dissimilar to the U.S. and skewed to the left, I would argue that there are still quite a few of us in the minority that should be taken into account. Variety in the choices of stories that are chosen would be appreciated and may even enlighten or give new perspectives to those who are American Liberals.
Even if for the sake of argument I said that everyone that goes to Whitman is liberal, my argument would still hold up. Why would we give people only information about candidates they are already likely to vote for? It would be like singing “Amazing Grace” to a gospel choir. Nobody is improved by that kind of affirmation. So the argument for that stance goes something like this: “I know that you believe what they believe, and that even if you didn’t, you wouldn’t vote for that ‘dirty Republican’ anyway, so even though the vote is a shoo-in, I’m going to tell you what you already believe anyway, just for affirmation.”
Vigorous debate and competition of ideas are what our country is founded on. So if you find yourself leaning liberal, you might consider being more liberal on hearing ideas and political stances that differ from your own. There are no negatives to this approach. If your ideas and politics are truly strong in merit, then hearing another’s ideas will only give you a chance to sharpen your ideas and find the weaknesses in theirs. Conversely, what if your ideas are flawed? How will you ever know if you have your head in the sand if you refuse to listen to and consider someone else’s view? Diversity should not only exist as a buzzword for skin color and sex. It should exist for ideas and political thought. What would the world look like if we all thought the same? What if we were without opportunities to learn from someone else’s differing view?