“Have you no decency sir?!” I mean, ma’am
Reconsidering the tone of our discourse
I found myself reading March 15, 2013 issue of The Tech (15 March, 2013), and I found yet another life-altering piece by my absolute favorite columnist, Ms. Rachel Bandler. At first I thought that Ms. Bandler had branched out and decided to explore the world of kinky sex in her article — “BDS — a new name for an old tactic” — but I quickly realized that she was far more than just one “M” away from her constant, illogical diatribes (which inevitably result in veiled racism) about the never-ending Arab/Zionist conflict.
I was tempted to enumerate a list of the many logical fallacies and moments of poor argumentation, but, instead, I turned first to what others had written on The Tech’s website; what I found only disheartened me more. Comment after comment espoused ideas and claims that canoodled with the racialist and flirted with the absurd. Luckily, a few brave users attempted to bring rationality and just discourse to the table; yet, all they received in return were abuses such as “Antisemites like you….” Others rightly claimed that the gist of Ms. Bandler’s piece, as well as the comments of others, was tantamount to saying that no one can rightfully protest against Israel without being called an anti-Semite.
I could really care less about arguing the specific policy (i.e. The Arab/Zionist Conflict) with people, who refuse to be rational or, at the very least, civil, Ms. Bandler included. I am too busy to be bothered with the stress and would rather not have undeserved libel hurled at me. (If you want my “two-cents:” the whole concept of a boycott to do anything to Israel seems like wasted time do to their strong economic ties with non-Arab states, vast resources — financial and diplomatic — and their ability to continually lay siege to the people and economy that is instituting the said boycott. Consider taking 21H.262 Palestine & The Arab-Israeli Conflict or any of Professor Abigail Jacobson’s classes.)
What I do wish to concern myself with is the tone of the discourse, a tone which does not befit students of The Institute nor anyone (just as prospective students are exploring MIT).
It does not matter that this issue causes umbrage. Religious sensitivities have no right to stifle reasoned discussion. Discordance between opinion does not result from one side being diametrically opposed to the other. And, rhetorical tricks have no place in honest dialog. We must expect more of ourselves and others. Civility demands that we show more respect for the practice of debate.
Henry G. Skupniewicz is a member of the class of 2013.