Letter to the editor: We must learn to discuss the merits of ideas in a civil way

Maarten Meinders

I’m responding to the letter titled, “Those going on about critical race theory are not very educated.” Interestingly, the author started by listing her credentials. Fine. But as I read on, I was distressed by her incessant use of ad hominem attacks.

Therefore, before proceeding, I need to list my own credentials to establish that I am neither ignorant nor uneducated: I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech (summa cum laude) and have worked 37 years in research and development. I hold two U.S. patents. I do admit that I have visited the Statue of Liberty only once and cede that I cannot compete with the eight visits listed in her credentials, nor did my ancestors come here on the Mayflower.

So let’s address her ad hominem attacks. Ad hominem is defined as “appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect” and “an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.”

Case in point: the title of her letter. Then: “People talking about Marxism and communism have no possible idea what they are talking about.” Really? Next, people who don’t hold her viewpoint “are not very educated and should keep their opinions to themselves.” What can I say? Lastly, she says, “I’m also guessing (critical race theory critics) would rather have white neighbors and friends.” How did she know?

But seriously, let me suggest that we learn to discuss the merits of ideas in a civil way, acknowledging that, to quote “The Friends of Voltaire,“ “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” For her to state that others may not “inflict their ignorance” on her sounds somewhat elitist doesn’t it?

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