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A non-disruptive protest/A failure to engage

When Niko Malhotra ‘24, the student on our Steering Committee learned I would be in WIlliamstown this week, he invited me to attend a program of the Society for Conservative Thought which he chairs, “Faith in the Halls of Power:  Why Faith and Public Life Go Together in the American Experience”.  The speaker was Tim Goegelin, Vice President of External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family, a social conservative organization.


I was delighted to be able to attend and very much enjoyed the talk. Goeglein provided a brief survey of references to belief in a higher power in our founding documents as well as in the words of leading figures of American history.


When I arrived in Griffin 7, a protester was present, standing silently in front of the room, waving a Gay Pride flag and wearing a rainbow smock. He stood silently for about twenty minutes, then taped his flag and smock to the wall, walking  out without a word.


He neither disrupted nor engaged.


I assume the protester showed up because the  founder of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, has said some anti-gay things over the years. But I don’t know; he did not explain why he was there. Nor did he stay to ask questions.


In his talk, Goeglein did not disparage any group.


All that said, I believe the student’s protest was entirely appropriate. He registered his disapproval without disrupting the event. He stood quietly. He did not stand between the speaker and his audience. He did not block access to the room.


Quite a contrast to the students who disrupted the panel last Thursday on the War in Gaza and the International Context.


The silent protester alas did not make an effort to engage and so forfeited the opportunity to make his views known and give Goeglein a chance to respond.


A missed opportunity for an exchange of ideas.

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