By Alex DiBlasi ‘23
When I heard that conservative author and provocative commentator Heather Mac Donald would be speaking at Holy Cross, I did not plan to attend. However, as “Protest Heather Mac Donald” posters began to pop up all over social media, I made it a priority to go and listen to her “opinion” on diversity at college campuses. I did not go to the event as either a supporter or hater of Heather Mac Donald. Rather, I went as a curious, unbiased journalist eager to find out what is so evil about this woman that makes some of my peers want to suppress others’ First Amendment rights.
The room filled up quickly with protestors primarily dressed in black clothing, as the organizers of the protest requested. This tactical move prevented students and other community members who actually wanted to listen to the speaker from attending, as there were no more seats available even before the event started. Individuals wishing to hear the talk were turned away by campus police at all entrances to Seelos Theater because the space was at fire capacity.
Once Ms. Mac Donald started talking, I could hear a periodic buzzing of phones every minute. It became obvious to me that the protestors put together a group chat to time disruptions. Then, they simultaneously began chanting, “My oppression is not a delusion. Your racism is not welcome. Your sexism is not welcome. Your homophobia is not welcome,” and proceeded to march out. This outburst was similar to child taking a tantrum in a grocery store because they were told they could not buy the sugary cereal, and the administration present appeared to be the lackadaisical parent who stood in the aisle letting it happen even though a lecture had been given about proper behavior earlier.
In between the phones buzzing and the chanting, Ms. Mac Donald read from a script. She was definitely well-rehearsed and some of her points were factual. I did not hear anything that should be offensive to anyone. However, when the Q & A with students began, her lack of substance became obvious. On several points, she was unable to back up her statements with facts, and she was not quick with her responses. Perhaps the remaining hecklers in the crowd derailed her train of thought and weakened her rebuttals.
For me, the issue is not understanding the reasons why The Fenwick Review wanted a known antagonist to speak on campus, why the Holy Cross administration allowed her discussion, or even why Heather Mac Donald was not able to defend her controversial stance on diversity better. The bigger question to me is, if the political left is supposed to be the “tolerant party” and all about inclusivity, why do they tell people with opposing viewpoints that “they are not welcome” on our campus and try to silence them? How are we as a College and as a society supposed to find common ground if we cannot even listen to each other and have open discussions in hopes of understanding different perspectives?
Let me close with a quote from Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu: “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”