A lot of my political side – especially the passion and anger that I feel about issues and candidates — never makes it on to this blog. And I thought I would explain.
I am not without strongly held political beliefs. Neither am I at all covert about them. I will often share my basic opinions so students can have some sense of who I am as a political and social being. Feigned neutrality, I have always thought, would be its own form of dishonesty.
But anyone who has taken my classes (or who ever will in the future) knows of my special concern for the feelings and attitudes of students who I either suspect or know might disagree with me. As much as anything, I want my classes to be safe places for the expression of political views from anyplace on the political spectrum, and even for views so marginalized that they might not have even made it on to the mainstream spectrum! The joy of clashing ideas, especially when marked by both passion and civility – is a special thrill of teaching at a university. If we can’t do it in a university, where can we do it?
Having said that, I did start this blog especially for my students at Hunter College. Media Studies is a rapidly evolving field and is being defined and redefined in public discourse every single day. The main purpose of my blog — Media and Mayhem — is to share this ongoing change with students as it unfolds. Last week, for example, a historic moment occurred in the evolution of the Internet: More people saw Tina Fey’s impressions of Governor Palin on-line than saw them when they were originally broadcast on NBC.
I suppose I mention all this because we now face the last ten days of a long, hard-fought campaign for the presidency. And because I support one of the candidates, Senator Obama, I wanted to make absolutely sure that all of you who are Hunter students feel absolutely free to either publicly or privately express views that might be to the contrary. You are welcome to raise them in class, to come see me, or to be in touch via email. Some of you already have, and this touches me very deeply.
Keep it coming. And if in the next week I blurt out something in my excitement or enthusiasm – or in my anger and frustration – know that your contrary expression of excitement or anger will be even more welcome, and will be met with civility and respect.
We are living through an extraordinarily historic election, taking place amidst economic chaos and wars on several fronts. Now is not the time to be shy, silent or reticent, whether you support Senator McCain, Senator Obama, Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, or any one of a number of other candidates. As Edward R. Murrow once said in a broadcast that many of my students have seen:
“We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular…. There is no way for a citizen of the republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom where ever it still exists in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”