The others didn’t object. I didn’t say anything.
“But when I watched TV in the United States I was shocked. They all referred to Israel as the victim, not the aggressor.”
“Israel is an important ally of the United States…” I offered.
“I mean, it wasn’t even Fox News.” We chuckled. Then they looked at me to respond.
It would be easy to claim I didn’t object because I thought it would be rude to my host. It would also be easy to say I was indifferent or ignorant about the issue or even that I agreed with him, but none of these things are true. The truth is, I didn’t want to get into a debate because I decided the risk of a lingering and awkward disagreement between us was worse than ignoring what I genuinely believed in.
I do not think I’m the only one at Stanford who would prefer to get along smoothly with everyone than to defend my views and opinions. We blame it on the politically correct culture here that pressures everyone to err on the side of silence instead of dialogue, but we ourselves ultimately make the decision to sit quietly when someone else brings up politics at the dining hall table so we ourselves must make the decision to clearly articulate our convictions.
To be clear, I’m not advocating you argue on every issue. Of course we should strive to gather broad knowledge and penetrating opinions on many topics, but we will not always succeed. Ignorance is understandable. Indifference is tolerable.
Inaction is not.
This issue marks the beginning of the 51st volume of The Stanford Review. For 50 volumes, this paper has inspired death threats and debate, ire and inquiry, and throughout it all, The Review has stood up when discussions arise. This volume will continue the tradition. When you have an opinion that doesn’t fit in campus’s suffocating mainstream or when a story is not what it appears to be on the surface, The Stanford Review will be ready to investigate and disseminate. But we are not omnipresent. Soon it will be your turn. It may be affirmative action during a seminar or it may be Stanford’s alternative review process while walking to Coupa, but sometime soon, someone will bring up an issue you disagree about. You can feign indifference or dismiss it, saying it’s just not the time for that discussion.
Or you can risk the uncomfortable tension of disagreement. For the sake of your conscience and country, do it. And when you find that standing your ground and spreading truth is fulfilling, join us.