Of course there are many big differences between the current situation and arms control. However, there are some parallels between the story of Reagan and the Soviets and Manny’s statements that marginalized voices “have been uplifted like they haven’t in recent Stanford history and this is seen as a threat.” First, just as Reagan did not negotiate with the Soviets while in a weak position, Manny is correct in assessing the power of a collective voice arguing against perceived injustice on campus. Uplifted and unified voices, just like a stronger U.S. military, lead to a more advantageous negotiating position. There are times when it is the correct move to avoid negotiations and Manny may have seen the current state of affairs on campus as one of those times. Second, soaring rhetoric can be important for bolstering a position. Reagan called the Soviets an “Evil Empire”; Thompson has called Stanford “evil”. I personally do not share this view of our school, but I cannot dismiss Manny’s view as irrational because it is internally consistent with a worldview shaped by his own experiences.
I do not wish to establish concrete rules for when to enter dialogue and when to avoid discussion. However, I do wish many of my peers on Yik Yak and other forms of social media would pause and really think through Manny’s words before engaging in criticism. There is plenty in his actions to be angry at, yet I cannot help but admire his courage, grit, and internal consistency.