In 2020, politics is inescapable. Be it the Iowa caucuses or Thomas Homan’s speech at Houston Hall, political opinions are being thrown from all sides. In fact, even The Daily Pennsylvanian editorial board has officially endorsed Bernie Sanders as the candidate to beat Trump.
It is especially important for us to question whatever we are fed through different sources, considering the strong polarization that characterizes these times. In the wake of a widespread political wave where every major event has political ramifications, there is a sincere need for us, especially as college students, to question more.
The Thomas Homan event last month is a perfect example of this. A former Obama and Trump administration official who had the job of executing the orders of the laws passed by Congress comes to Penn to speak.
He is met on one side, by a group of loud protestors who want him to leave. On the other side, he sees a number of people keenly listening, some of whom might be blindly agreeing, but others simply noting what he has to say.
And these are just the people who attended the event, or those who didn’t want to attend but wanted to show their dissent. A significant number of people didn’t attend, and will read about what happened and form their own opinion based on these opinions.
The key thing to note is the number of filters that all the content is going through. That is why it is so important that we question all that we hear in terms of accuracy and reliability. Being able to do that is a key part of what is called being media literate, which means applying critical thinking skills to mass media to be a more responsible citizen.
Some would look at the protest and would align with the protesters simply because of the literal content of their message, without questioning further. In other words, the “why” of the protest can be temporarily sidelined. "Our goal tonight is ultimately for Penn to stop bringing racist a**holes to speak on campus," a protester said.
Instead of blindly aligning with such claims by assuming their accuracy, I advocate questioning them before deciding what one agrees with. Actually investigating this statement would lead to the understanding that an executive agency that is following guidelines set by Congress cannot work on bias.
We tend to so often default to conventional wisdom. But, it is very important to evaluate popular beliefs before aligning with them and ask ourselves, how much of that conventional wisdom is all convention, and no wisdom? And at what cost? It is essential to do that especially in times when news around us can be so polarizing that mere exposure to some platforms can mislead us to make false assumptions and beliefs.
In a letter to all readers, Daily Pennsylvanian President Isabella Simonetti expressed how important asking the right questions has been for her throughout her life. Penn students would do well to take Isabella's advice. As voters of today, we must question more in order to avoid being misled or misinformed.
TEJASWI BHAVARAJU is a College first-year from India, studying Mathematical Economics and Cinema Studies. His email address is email@example.com.
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