Brian Rosenberg was right: Why we should reject Santorum

By Maggie Molter

Danny Surman, in his dissent to Brian Rosenberg published in the most recent issue of The Mac Weekly, presented a viewpoint that, in my view, should not stand uncontested. Firstly, Mr. Surman takes issue with President Rosenberg’s “cherry-picking,” referring to the president’s dismissal of two specific statements of Santorum’s. Mr. Surman asserts that a more comprehensive argument is required to “present a sweeping indictment of the candidate as a whole.” However, it is clear from President Rosenberg’s essay that systematically deconstructing Santorum’s full set of political beliefs was not his intention; he instead addressed only the issues he believed threatened the institution he was defending. I believe the two examples Rosenberg cited are, in themselves, sufficient cause to speak out against Santorum, “dealbreakers” in the pursuit of a presidency. No further evidence is needed. We absolutely cannot, in 21st century America, give serious presidential consideration to a man who honestly believes climate change to be based on “phony studies” and the nation’s institutions of higher learning to be “indoctrination mills.” But admittedly, if we can transcend Santorum’s negatively-charged word choice in the phrase “indoctrination mills,” it is, as Mr. Surman points out, interesting to contemplate the bias we may possess as members of the Macalester community and academia in general. However, Mr. Surman’s argument is confusing and contradictory. He seems to endorse an open discourse that would allow Santorum’s views to be taken seriously, but attacks Rosenberg for recognizing that Santorum’s views threaten the existence of any open discourse in the first place. He appears to be advocating for an openness to close-mindedness. I agree with Mr. Surman when he says, “no matter how open you are to new ideas, you are educated and informed by your background and environment.” Everyone clearly has biases based on past experiences. However, it is the mission of the liberal arts college and the institution of education in general to lead an individual to acknowledge, and in some cases fight against, his own biases, not to indulge them. Mr. Surman’s essay seems to be condoning a blind acceptance of one’s own worldview, or at least insinuating that we should give Rick Santorum credit for “sticking to his guns.” Yes, the most respectable leaders and politicians are often those with strong convictions and unwavering dedication to certain ideals, but because his convictions and ideals are so absurd, Santorum cannot possibly be allowed to achieve a respectable position in today’s society. Mr. Surman seems to disagree: “I cannot condemn Rick Santorum for drawing a conclusion on climate change that emerged from his own worldview in good faith.” Here, my disagreement with Mr. Surman deepens, extending much farther than a difference in opinion regarding a certain political candidate. By his logic, any viewpoint that an individual holds “in good faith” as a result of background and environment is valid and cannot be condemned. This logic is fundamentally wrong. Though our world is filled with vastly differing cultures, opinions, and values, there are fundamental truths of humanity that must be upheld in any and all valid sets of beliefs. Under absolutely no circumstance is genocide acceptable. Being “brought up” in a racist household is not an excuse for continuing hatred. The obvious indoctrination that occurred in Germany during WWII does not validate the atrocities of the Holocaust. It is not my intention to compare Santorum’s campaign to the Holocaust; I simply mean to emphasize that situations do exist in which a value judgment is not only permissible, but imperative. In some contexts, “right” and “wrong” are not merely subjective opinion, but objective fact. And in this particular case, Santorum’s views on climate change and higher education are not merely contradictory to the mission of Macalester—they are, simply put, wrong, and should, as President Rosenberg observed, immediately disqualify him from any serious consideration for a presidential candidacy. refresh –>