Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Le Sigh

This post was supposed to be about a lot of things, but now it gets to be about pie.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and the US' "neo-conservative price" spoke on campus today. First up was the 3 o'clock with the Politics senior seminar, where we got to ask questions and have a fun discussion about Social Security reform (among others). There were loads of interesting comparisons to the Clinton health care fiasco and certainly a whole lot of things that are going to provide food for thought over the next few months. I got to ask the classic Joyce question: "What should be the response of liberals to the neo-con movement when we agree on so many of the ends, but none of the methods?" Yeah, this is really something that I struggle with and probably the main reason why I've shifted away from American political parties (nuance is not a bad thing, people!). He didn't really give me a great answer, except to say that that position/struggle is a valid one and implying that it might be a much healthier kind of political discussion. Which, come to think of it, makes it a great answer. Hearing that your struggles are probably better as struggles than they would be as resolved political positions is kinda nice.

Nevertheless, I walked out thinking that I was glad that Mr. Kristol had a chance to meet with serious Earlham students who wanted to learn from him (rather than challenge everything that came out of his mouth) before being thrown to the hippies who were bound to show up to the main speech (and probably clash with the conservative Richmond residents in attendence). If only I'd known. Midway through his speech, and Goddard Auditorium was packed, I noticed a guy who had gotten up on the edge of the stage. I think most of us thought that he was taking photos for The Earlham Word and was just getting a better angle. There were about two seconds when we realized what he was doing and when he actually threw a melted ice cream pie at our speaker (splashing President Doug with an awful lot, too). Someone pointed out that this must be what assasinations are like. We booed and clapped when he continued, but most of us were completely and utterly shocked.

I love a lot of things about Earlham and I love how this place has shaped me as a person, but there are things that have always left something to be desired. One of those is the lack of serious political dialouge on campus. I remember freshman year when Ann Coulter came to speak and the whole place went beserk. (Just for the record, WE DIDN'T THROW ANYTHING AT HER, that was some other college.) So now we have a group, founded by my beloved Tanyel, that is trying to create a safe space for political dialogue of all shapes and sizes. And it was just starting to work. I was ashamed at the way we treated William Kristol and I felt two inches high because of the way that that pie belittled the college, serious attempts at discussion and the process of individual discernment that Earlham strives to foster in all of its students. It was dreadful and it won't be over for a long time. Next year they'll laugh at the incident during PC skits, but right now it isn't very funny.

But, I guess there's been dialogue. Things have exploded over on the Earlham LJ community and there's an all-student meeting tomorrow which I suspect will be packed.