The Problem with Walking Out
On March 27th, Former Vice President Dick Cheney came to my alma mater, American University, to discuss Russia, Iran, gay rights, and his life in politics. Sure, an interesting choice for the Kennedy Political Union, and for AU in general, but still makes perfect sense – after all, American is often ranked as the number one politically active school in the nation, and is based on Washington, D.C., and is home to a student body remarkably impassioned, inspired, and interested in politics.
Which is why I was so incredibly disappointed to hear about what happened on Thursday.
As I had expected, a number of students gathered outside of Bender Arena, where Cheney was speaking, holding protest signs and really epic protest attire (Seriously, I didn’t even know they still made “Dick Cheney in prison uniform” costumes anymore. Kudos, AU student body).
This protest was the American University students that makes me proud to be an alumni – they respectfully obeyed the rules, kept their signs and protest outside the event; in a way that was respectful of the rules, the event, and still got their point across.
Then I saw this video, of American University students screaming during Dick Cheney’s speech, and walking out:
And then I was disappointed. My time at American taught me to keep an open mind, hear the other side, be an informed, knowledgeable member of society. What these students did was the opposite. While I’m sure I wouldn’t have agreed with many of the things Vice President Cheney said, I would have either protested outside or sat in on the discussion, politely listened, come up with a few questions to ask at the microphone at the end of the speech, taken a moment to consider his point of view, and channeled my outrage and frustration into activism on an issue, volunteering, or even just plain old writing a blog. The answer to an open discourse and solving our country’s problems isn’t angrily screaming and walking out – it’s asking informed questions and taking action.