Glover: Free speech and political tolerance

Dr. Cynthia Glover

Yesterday afternoon, following a long and eventful day of teaching, I returned to my office to find that my door had been “violated.” Throughout the semester, I’d posted a political cartoon which was given to me by a faculty colleague. The picture showed political leaders (including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney) described as “empty warheads in Washington.” I don’t usually post things on my door, but this particular graphic seemed to make a lasting impression on me. As I locked my office yesterday, I noticed the cartoon was gone. My initial thought was that I’d broken some rule about office door postings, thus requiring the cartoon’s removal. But then I remembered the dozens of office doors plastered with images and writings of all kinds. On a gut feeling, I called my good friend who gave me the cartoon, Dr. Rick Eckstein, and left a message asking if his cartoon was missing. He confirmed that his office door had also been “violated;” the same cartoon was removed. One of my goals as a humanist and educator has been to promote tolerance for difference of all kinds. I constantly challenge my students to look beyond artificial divisions of race, class, gender and sexuality to embrace our common humanity and collective interests. I share with them the lyrics of reggae artist Pato Banton who reminds us that “as this planet rotates, we all share the same fate.” The fact that we differ in skin color, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status and attitudes doesn’t have to impede our ability to live (and love) as one. The person who removed the political cartoons from our offices is perhaps someone who is troubled by the opinions of anti-war folks like myself. Perhaps this repressive action informs us of the need to have some serious and open discussion on this campus about war and peace. While I stand firm in my opposition to imperialist aggression of all kinds, including nationalistic violence for economic and political gain, I am supportive of my fellow Americans whose lives are at risk in a grossly misguided and unilaterally-driven military debacle. In the end, what I mostly have are questions:n When did our military objective change from apprehending so-called “terrorists” to full-scale regime change in sovereign nations?n Why is “diplomacy” a bad word?n What do we really gain from our presence in Iraq?n How much do we ultimately lose from our presence in Iraq?n If this war isn’t about oil, then why did the President urge the Iraqi citizens not to burn the oil fields?n War: what is it good for? “Absolutely nothing,” says singer Edwin Starr.