To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Brendan Sweeney’s ’19.5 April 10 op-ed “Why we must respect Jeb Bush’s right to speak.” I agree with both Mark Liang ’19 and Sweeney that Jeb Bush should be allowed to speak at Brown. However, Jeb Bush has no right to my respect — to argue that “PLEASE CLAP” signs are significant contributors to political polarization and tribalism is incorrect and seriously misguided.
My outrage over the opinions expressed in Sweeney’s article (and make no mistake, I am outraged) comes from the absurd amount of attention Bush’s feelings are being given proportional to the tangible harm effected by Bush. It is absurd to argue that it is morally abhorrent to hold “PLEASE CLAP” signs in light of the moral abhorrence of the suffering inflicted by Bush’s opposition to a 2014 Florida initiative that would have legalized marijuana for medical use. It is absurd to maintain that the “health of our liberal democracy depends on the quality of our discourse” when Bush only called for “respect” for same-sex marriages after they were made legal in Florida. It is absurd to denounce viewing political debate as a “struggle between two factions” when Bush supported perpetuating the war in Iraq, which has killed 500,000 people since the start of the U.S. invasion.
Liberal democracy may well be premised on mutual respect. But I was raised to believe that respect is earned, not demanded. What is demanded are answers, and Bush had better come prepared.
Adam Mercier ’19