To: Dr. Rahmat Shoureshi
CC: PSU CampusSecurity
Dear Dr. Shoureshi:
I wish to relate to you my concerns regarding a recent event at the PSU campus.
Michael Strickland was invited by the Portland State University College Republicans to give a presentation and a talk about the events of July 7th, 2016, which led to his conviction of felony charges after he drew a legally carried firearm in self-defense against a violent mob in downtown Portland.
His PSU presentation was disrupted, which you can see in this YouTube video, and many others circulating on the Internet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUGsNryTIhIStrickland’s presentation was sponsored by a PSU-accredited student organization. Yet the disruption, loud and uncivil, was allowed to continue, with no intervention from the Campus Security. Was this mere incompetence, or a deliberate attempt to silence a speaker whose views are at odds with the dominant political narrative embraced by the PSU Administration?
In a civilized society, which I am sure PSU considers itself a part of, it is impolite to interrupt someone’s words in a conversation, short of warning them of imminent danger, such as a fire or a tsunami. We instill this and other rules in children and young adults, in hopes of building a better society. Such rules are what separates our society from barbarians.
Being willing to listen to others, including those we disagree with, and being able to speak freely in a public space are not only marks of a civilized society: in the United States, they are protected by the Law of the Land, which is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
PSU is one of the leading educational institutions in our State. It is a forge of young and bright minds, where not only professional skills are learned, but rules of civil conduct are instilled by teaching and by example. PSU alumni fill the ranks of professional workforce in world-class local high-tech industry. From their numbers, future leaders of the local communities, the State, and this great Nation, emerge.
We know from history what happens when one political group takes over the public square by denying others the right to freely express their views. Let me share a personal experience: I was born and grew up in Communist Poland, and have witnessed, in just over three decades of living there, several major unrests of the people whose freedoms of speech and economic choice were severely restricted by an oppressive government. Not one of those events was concluded without violence, and several led to tragic deaths of many innocent people.
The wisdom of the Founding Fathers of this country provided political and legal protection of the rights of all people, no matter what their point of view or political affiliation.
In this very recent past, PSU has failed to fulfill its role as an educator and promoter of civic values which makes us such a great society and Nation.
My wife and I both received education at PSU in the past, and we are proud of it. Our five children are either making choices for their college education, or will be making them soon. PSU was our primary choice among the educational institutions we considered.
But we are concerned for the immediate physical safety of our children, on a campus where the Security force is either unwilling or unable to protect the rights of all individuals.
We are also asking ourselves if a campus where free speech so easily becomes subject to a confrontation with aggression, is the right place for our children to receive their intellectual and character formation.
After so many years that passed since the coming down of the Berlin Wall, are we making a dangerous turn toward allowing aggression, instead of civility, to become the modus operandi of our society?
Can we learn from history, or does history have to repeat itself?
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Northwest Connection.)